The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey ★★★★½

I personally think the Lord of the Rings trilogy is the epitome of film-making of the last 10 years. For three consecutive years, I turned myself in a rabid fanboy of everything LOTR, source literature included. I was delighted to find out that Peter Jackson had taken it upon himself to turn the prequel of LOTR, The Hobbit, into a new trilogy. I was a bit sceptical at first, but I have to say, Jackson has done it again. The Hobbit is a marvellous fantasy movie of epic proportions that could only have been made by Jackson and the likes.

In short, I thought The Hobbit was absolutely spectacular. Every single frame, every location and every character has been brought to life with such imagination and love for the source material. The movie looks fantastic from beginning to end. I saw it in HFR 3D and although I found the viewing experience a bit jarring at first, it grew on me very quickly and I was completely accustomed to it after an hour. Everything is smooth and the HFR effect is definitely noticeable during action scenes with a lot of panning movement from the camera. Sometimes I even forgot I was looking at a movie. The 3D was also implemented very well. Subtle at times, but engrossing when it needed to be. Viewing The Hobbit is a mesmerising experience and I was entranced all the way through.

The Hobbit definitely feels different from LOTR. The focus of the story is on the 13 dwarves, Bilbo Baggins and Gandalf who set out on a quest to reclaim a treasure that was taken from the Dwarves by the dragon Smaug, who destroyed their hometown in the process. It is a different scale from that of LOTR, in which entire Middle Earth was at war with Sauron and the fate of every race depended on the outcome of Frodo's journey. However, The Hobbit doesn't feel any less epic. Jackson took some liberty with the source material and added characters that are only present in other Tolkien stories, or he added scenes himself completely. The story takes a lot of time to get going, but I felt that every scene needed to be in the movie and some minor pacing issues aside, the story in The Hobbit is a fantastic ride from start to finish. Seeing some characters reprise their roles from LOTR felt like welcoming an old friend.

Another compliment flies out to Howard Shore, who once again outdid himself with the composition of the soundtrack. It was nice to hear some themes make a welcome return and the new main theme is nothing short of epic and bombastic and it returned a lot of times during the movie, be it in a lot of different renditions. I found the soundtrack to be a bit less memorable than the one in LOTR, but I loved it nonetheless. It even makes for some nice listening outside of the movie. The soundtrack should be an instant buy for anyone who enjoyed the music of Shore in the LOTR films.

All in all I find it hard to fault The Hobbit in any way, shape or form. If I had to name one negative remark about the movie it would have to be that I think that the fellowship of Dwarves could have been fleshed out better. We only really get to know Thorin Oakenshield. It is even hard to remember the names of the other 12 dwarves, they are mostly just along for the ride. I massively enjoyed myself during the entire duration of the movie. I felt something I hadn't felt since The Retun of the King in 2003 - a sense of utter bewilderment, amazed by the things that are shown to you on screen. A feeling of adventure that marks the years of our youth. The Hobbit is an accomplishment of rare proportions and I will be there next year for The Desolation of Smaug and the year after that for There and Back Again. I absolutely can't wait.