‘The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey’ Review

Published 1 year ago by , Updated December 17th, 2012 at 8:49 am,

Martin Freeman Bilbo The Hobbit The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey Review

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey is the first installment in Peter Jackson’s new Middle-earth trilogy – once again based on the beloved fantasy world created by author J.R.R. Tolkien. After director Guillermo del Toro left the project, Jackson returned to the director’s chair and expanded the would-be film series – originally conceived as a two-part adaptation of The Hobbit storyline – into a full-on Lord of the Rings prequel trilogy.

While the plot of Part 1, An Unexpected Journey, and Part 2, The Desolation of Smaug, offer a relatively straightforward storyline, the mystery surrounding Part 3, There and Back Again, has left many fans wondering if Jackson and New Line Cinema sacrificed a quality Hobbit adaptation in favor of a third opportunity for box office earnings.

There and Back Again is set for release in summer 2014, so it’ll be awhile before we can definitively weigh in on that trilogy decision; however, if The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey is any indication of what’s to come, Lord of the Rings faithfuls have reason to be hopeful that the director will create another captivating round of adventures in Middle-earth. An Unexpected Journey does not match the scale established in Lord of the Rings, but there are still plenty of eye-popping visuals, enchanting action set-pieces, and intriguing character cameos, to prevent the film from being the underwhelming (and cheesy) experience that some skeptics were anticipating. In fact, the more intimate storyline, centered around reluctant/adventure-loving hobbit Bilbo Baggins (Martin Freeman), his thirteen dwarf companions, and the renowned Gandalf the Grey (Ian McKellen), often outshines similar plot beats from The Fellowship of the Ring.

Richard Armitage The Hobbit The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey Review

Thorin Oakenshield (Richard Armitage), son of Thráin, son of Thrór, ready to reclaim the Lonely Mountain.

In The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, a pre-Lord of the Rings Bilbo Baggins has abandoned his thirst for adventure in favor of a safe and comfortable life in The Shire. For years, Bilbo has preferred the quiet of Bag End, his Hobbit-hole, a well-stocked pantry, and the warmth of his fireplace to the beauty and terrors of the lands beyond his home – until Gandalf the Grey knocks on his door.

The wizard invites the hobbit on a quest to help a band of dwarves retake their homeland, The Lonely Mountain, from a ruthless and dangerous dragon, Smaug. Unwilling to resist the chance for adventure, Bilbo agrees to accompany the group, which is led by Thorin Oakenshield (Richard Armitage), heir to the King Under the Mountain crown. The company faces challenge after challenge, and – unbeknownst to even the wise Gandalf – bears first witness to a dangerous sequence of events that will haunt the next generation of hobbits, dwarves, elves, and men.

Unsurprisingly, there are several similarities between An Unexpected Journey and The Fellowship of the Ring, most notably the core premise (a ragtag group of heroes on a life-or-death quest through the wilds of Middle-earth); however, Jackson’s latest installment is differentiated by a number of smart filmmaking choices and solid character dynamics that were present in the Tolkien source material – especially the multifaceted Bilbo Baggins.

Ian McKellan Gandalf The Hobbit Movie The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey Review

Kili, Bifur, Gandalf, Dwalin, Dori, and Bilbo in ‘The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey’

Freeman gives a sharp and charming performance as the brave hobbit – adding nuance to a role that draws stark contrast to Elijah Wood’s turn as Frodo (who enjoys an especially light-hearted cameo return). Unlike the Lord of the Rings protagonist, Bilbo revels in his adventure – even when he’s in over his head – with a solid balance of wit, humor, and bravery that translates into genuinely entertaining (as well as emotionally impactful) scenes. Even though the tone of The Hobbit novel is a bit lighter compared to Lord of the Rings, the film version of Bilbo easily fits into Jackson’s darker overarching movie universe – which should be a relief to viewers that were put-off by the rowdy dwarf antics that have dominated the movie adaptation’s marketing.

In fact, the dwarves successfully walk a very fine line between jolly goofballs and downright tough-as-nails warriors. Many of their respective combat sequences aren’t just exciting, they include unique action beats that are especially impressive when you take into consideration the blend of camera tricks, CGI, and practical prosthetics used to make onscreen interactions look believable when dwarf, goblin, hobbit, and wizard parts all collide in battle. A flashback sequence that establishes Thorin as the leader of the dwarf company is especially impressive, and could rival fan-favorite battles from Return of the King – cementing the character as one of the toughest brawlers in Middle-earth.

Several subtle (and some not-so subtle) changes lead to tense and exciting action sequences, complete with imaginative visual spectacle, helping to ratchet up the relatively modest Hobbit source material storyline – and produce a film experience that matches the thrill and breadth of the original film trilogy. That said, franchise fans will also appreciate many iconic character moments in An Unexpected Journey – notably the fateful game of riddles between Bilbo and Gollum (Andy Serkis). Jackson manages to provide even the quietest scenes with weight – as certain developments carry impact far beyond the short-term Hobbit-centric storyline.

Gollum Andy Serkis The Hobbit Movie The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey Review

Gollum (Andy Serkis), Sméagol, ‘Riddles in the Dark’ fanatic.

Unfortunately, not all of the Hobbit/Lord of the Rings bridging serves the story at hand – resulting in a lengthy film (169 minutes) that contains a few overlong or disjointed scenes. All of the Lord of the Rings foreshadowing is interesting, but at times it undercuts the importance of the current objective (Smaug and the Lonely Mountain). It’s clear that The Hobbit story could have likely been told in two films and, as a result, viewers will probably be mixed on the success of the bridging scenes in An Unexpected Journey, The Desolation of Smaug, as well as There and Back Again; however, the extra content hardly undermines the quality of Jackson’s latest effort – even for especially cynical moviegoers.

Adding to the controversy is the director’s choice to shoot in 48 frames-per-second – a format that results in hyper-realistic visuals but, as many filmmakers argue, is so true-to-life that it can actually be a distraction – depriving filmgoers of immersion. We’ve put together a separate editorial discussing the successes and shortcomings of The Hobbit in 48fps but, with regard to a review recommendation, without question the format is worth experiencing – if for no other reason than to form your own opinion (assuming there’s a HFR 3D-ready theater near you). 48fps can be disorienting at first, but An Unexpected Journey makes smart use of the presentation – delivering a number of jaw-dropping visual set pieces. There are plenty of movies that we would not want to see in 48fps and, much like 3D, filmmakers should be smart about when to use and avoid the format, but Jackson’s Hobbit movie is a worthy (and encouraging) trial run.

In the long run, The Hobbit prequels could be weakened by Jackson’s expanded three film plan, but if Part 2 and Part 3 are as enjoyable as An Unexpected Journey, it’ll be hard for moviegoers to complain. The film includes everything that made the original Lord of the Rings trilogy so memorable – action-adventure, charm, humor, and breath-taking fantasy battles. Sure, a few extemporaneous Lord of the Rings elements slow things down and distract from the core Hobbit storyline, but overall, the director has once again presented audiences with a captivating and exciting trip to Middle-earth.

If you’re still on the fence about The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, check out the trailer below:

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Let us know what you thought of the film in the comment section below. If you’ve seen the movie and want to discuss details about the film without worrying about spoiling it for those who haven’t seen it, please head over to our Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey Spoilers Discussion.

For an in-depth discussion of the film by the Screen Rant editors check out our Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey episode of the SR Underground podcast.

Follow me on Twitter @benkendrick for future reviews, as well as movie, TV, and gaming news.

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey is rated PG-13 for extended sequences of intense fantasy action violence, and frightening images. Now playing in 2D, 3D, IMAX, and 48fps theaters.

Our Rating:

4 out of 5
(Excellent)

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TAGS: the hobbit

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  1. just got back from watching it for the first time tonight and absolutely loved it especially the scene with Christopher Lee, Hugo Weaving, Cate Blanchett and Ian Mckellen together. just truly epic

  2. I was disappointed with this movie. Much of the movie was all too reminiscent t of LOR battles scenes, and chase scenes, and also brought to mind the Raiders of the Lost Ark movie with the roller coaster ride in the caves and smacked of a Disney film.
    The cave scene with the orks was too long and unrealistic, too much CGI and too little actual acting and drama. It just didn’t feel real like the LOR movies. Gandalf winked and played the charming old man one too many times. The scene with the eagles was initially lovely but again, too long.

    All in all I was less than impressed. It was ok, but nothing like the first time I saw LORs where I walked away wanting to see the movie again and again (which I have). But this one, I won’t even buy the DVD. Sorry not sure if it was film editor (which was not PJ) or too much del Toro influence but the feel of the movie, the gripping drama, the beauty and believability of the LOR is just not here.

    • Could not disagree more!

      Those were goblins and the goblin king in the cave, not orcs. The orcs are the big mean ones on the grouchy cat-dog things called worgs. I read the book and was captivated by the story as a youngster. The movie more than took me back there, it brought the story to life in a breathtaking and exciting way. While some will undoubtedly ejoy nitpicking apart details just to have something to cry about, personally I could watch the flight of the eagles by itself over and over again.

      I adore The LotR trilogy, but this movie somehow manages to top them. My only complaint is having to wait a year for the next one. This one seemed to end a little abruptly in a way that left you going…”no no wait! you can’t end it there!”

      Bravo Mr. Jackson, its good to see you back in your element!

      • Uh. No. The Orcs are Goblins. Same thing. Read books.

        • Orcs are not goblins in the films. In LOTR and The Hobbit, Jackson makes them distinctively different sub-species.

          • Um…. From My understanding, Orcs and goblins are the same in the books, and the movies. Goblins are smaller Orcs. Thats it. If they were not the same, then Bilbo’s sword Sting would not glow during the scene when Golem drags and kills a “goblin”. When The goblin died, the sword stoped glowing. Biblo said The sword glows when Orcs are around,but did not mention goblins. But that scene proves they are. Orcs and goblins are the same. They even say it in some J.R.R Tolkiens middle earth manifest, or whatever it was.

          • In the movie Gandolf actually says “orcs AND goblins” when he gives Bilbo the sword. The books treat the terms the same. The LOTR & Hobbit movies seem to have them as separated. orcs representative as those assembled into an army where-as Goblins are sort of chaotic and live underground and are squater. (Both movies have the goblins living inside of mountains)

        • You are right. Rob Keyes is wrong!

    • i’m sorry did you say the orc scene in the cave as unrealistic?? i’m sorry cause i could have sworn this was about a magical realm called middle earth not planet earth ahaha there is nothing ralistic about this movie! you half twit! your IQ must be that of the three mountain trolls, if you want realistic go watch braveheart.. or something, i do agree with you on some fight scene’s when the dwarf king rises up and cuts of the pale orc’s hand it was indentical to isildor<– if i got that right.. when he cut the finger of suaron but all and all it was a great movie!!! is there a part 2? thats wha i want to know and no i have never read the books but agian if you want realistic your watching the wrong movie HELLO

      • I think what karen is trying to say is that while we obviously go in accepting the existence of goblins and orcs in the tolkien universe it is hard to accept the gimmicks. when the bridge that the dwarves were on was falling destroying everything in its path while keeping them perfectly parallel with the ground it takes you out of the believability and you go “really?!”. The film had its great moments to be sure but there were simply too many times where i shook my head eg. the domino trees before they got swooped up by the eagles.

        side note: jesus Anthony calm down

        • Karen, Josh – Did you read the books? From your criticism, I’m guessing not. Please read the books, then watch the movie again.

          Also, The Hobbit was originally written as a young adult or children’s book. I’m guessing all children’s books are believable then…

          • The book CAN be read by children. It’s not childish. The humor and playfulness comes more from the narrators dry, polite, and succinct descriptions.

            If you like the movie fine, but there is very little resemblance between the book and this movie. I can’t believe how any halfway reasonable fan of the book, anyone who can claim to have even read it, could use “the book” as an apology for this movie. And that’s what it is: an excuse. An apology.

            And so what if anyone has read the book or not. Seeing a movie isn’t a class at University. One needn’t come prepared, required to have read the text in order to aid understanding of the lecture.

          • I’ve read the books and have to say I was very disappointed by the movie. A lot of the things I like about the book were missing. The original story has been twisted quite a lot to be forced to be prequel to the lord of the rings. Stretching the stories out to fill three three hour films didn’t help either. Although, I found LOTR too fast in comparison to the book, ‘The Hobbit’ could be a bit faster.
            I lost the magic half way through the film. What as left was quite pathetic.

    • I have to agree with you, Karen.

    • I’m right there with you, I wasn’t a huge fan of all the extra story elements they added either, I feel like the whole Pale Orc thing was kinda lame. I also feel like they made Thorin waaaay too much like Aragorn -____-

      • WOW LMAO! Thorin was nothing like Aragorn at all. I’m pretty sure most people would agree. “Waaaaaay to much”? what the hell Lord Of The Rings rip off were you watching!?

  3. I often felt sick during the movie due to the speed of the frames, there were some funny moments but on the whole, admit to being slightly disappointed.

  4. 4.5 stars imo. As good as the old school cartoon if not better. If your a fan of that, WATCH IT! =D

  5. Saw the film yesterday (2D) with VERY low expectations. One, this is not the LOTR book I read every other year. Two, I didn’t know if Mr. Jackson could even equal the Trilogy, much less top it. Prequels in my opinion by and large stink (duh, like you don’t know already that Bilbo, Gandalf and a few others survive no matter how close to death they might appear to be…) and I avoid them. Other than being in the 2nd row, which made for blurry action scenes, the film engaged me and I enjoyed the slower pace that allowed richer character development which often seemed extraneous to the LOTR as there was so much material to cover doing a book a film (and led to many fantastic sections just being cut out). Along those lines, what bugged me most about this film is the same as the LOTR, the addition of extra scenes and characters when there isn’t enough time to deal properly with what is already there! The white orc?!? Killing an Orc once should be enough. It doesn’t need to be resurrected to create more tension. Next time, cut off every appendage you can and feed them to a good dragon so even the Necromancer can’t put it back together. I didn’t get that in this film or all the additional subplots or character additions of the LOTR. That being said, the rest of the plot and more than a few parts of the dialogue are straight out of the book. Bilbo was great, as was Thorin. Very noble and not as falsely conflicted as Aragorn was at times in LOTR. “Fear? I’ll show you how afraid I or my father was of you, you pale freakish spawn of hell!” Ready and waiting for at least the next installment with even anticipation.

  6. I would have much preferred an adaption more faithful to the tone and spirit of the actual Hobbit book (there was far too much injection of Lord of the Rings “super epic” alluding and foreshadowing for that to be the case), but as a film standing on its own merits, it was pretty good. The casting of Thorin and Bilbo was abosolutely superb, and the Bilbo/Gollum scene was everthing it could and should be, the definite highlight of the film. I found the 3D experience to be weak and distracting (blurring during camera pans, poor color). Also, the musical score was used a little to overtly to try and sell emotion that would have been better left to the camera and actors at times. But in spite of my few quibbles, it really was an enjoyable, well made fantasy film. I have a feeling that the Desolation of Smaug will be even better. You have to love those progressively nearer shots of Erebor at the end.

  7. I just saw the movie for the second time. It is superb. The additional material that is not in the book The Hobbit is real Tolkien, not Peter Jackson invention, with one unforgiveable exception. The history of the dwarves, both Smaug’s destruction of Erebor, and the war of the dwarves and orcs for the Mines of Moria, are straight out of Tolkien’s appendices to the Lord of the Rings. They are used as expansion material of course, but it is effective in establishing the hatred between the dwarves and both Smaug and the orcs. The event that establishes Thorin Oakenshield’s mistrust of Elves is effective in explaining the enmity. For those who have read both The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings many times, there are a few legitimate complaints about Jackson introducing events that are not what Tolkien wrote, or not taking full advantage of Tolkien’s story. An example of what Tolkien did not write and Jackson invented is the orcs searching for Thorin and Company. It is unnecessaary to the internal logic of the story even though it adds additional action sequences, which is why it is there of course. An example of not taking full advantage of Tolkien’s story is the sequence with the trolls. Instead of reproducing the banter of the trolls and Bilbo’s word-play with them, and Gandalf’s mimicry of the trolls which kept them arguing amongst themselves until the sun came up, Jackson dismisses the charm of these events and the additional growth of Bilbo as a participant in the adventure and not just baggage. These are small things and the excellence of the whole more than compensates for these lapses in Jackson’s choices. The one Jackson invention that is not minor is Bilbo jumping out of the tree and attacking Azog to save Thorin. Not only is this not Tolkien, it is not Bilbo. He had not grown in that way yet. This is a clear violation of Bilbo’s development of courage in the progress of the events. No excuse for it – a bad Jackson choice. Bilbo is not then, and never is, a warrior. At the Battle of the Five Armies his contribution is the Arkenstone, not swordplay. It is the one time in the movie that Bilbo rings false, and it is Jackson’s choice and he is wrong.

  8. I went to see The Hobbit with a friend who had neither read any of the books nor had he ever seen any of the previous movies, but has been a fan of special effects for many years. On the other hand, I too had never seen any of the previous movies, but I have read the Hobbit and the Ring trilogy a number of times and know what takes place in them quite well. We both understand that a movie is not a book, and that the best books and movies begin by creating depth in both characters and atmosphere.

    We went to the movie to be entertained and we certainly got our money’s worth.

  9. From some of the reviews, I was worried about being disappointed. But that certainly wasn’t the case. The film held true to the light-hearted, fun spirit of the original Hobbit, while adding in extra scenes mentioned in the book that readers aren’t present for, since the book closely follows only Bilbo, as well as tons of references and scenes from Tolkien’s other writings, in particular the appendices in TLOTR.

  10. well, either our cinema in NZ wasnt able to show “The Hobbit” in 3d and that was the reason it looked so rough cut, or it was just the fact that it was rough cut? “The Hobbit” was not good or pleasant viewing visually, too much dark too much light, too flicky and too much of a ‘plasticky’look,this coupled with the stilted performances of some of the lead cast (Frodo, Galadriel and Elrond and the Elf maidens playing the harp for a start, like not sure what they were supposed to be there for?) afraid it gave it that “havent got time to go over it again,but what the heck?” “Lets just get it out there!” look. Maybe that is because Peter Jackson did not have as much of a free hand as he had with One Line Cinema, maybe has something to do with orders from Warner Bros to do things their way? After all, the Prime Minister John Key, changed the law re.actors in NZ to make sure the film went there with all the right tax breaks for that film company. Sure hope I am proved wrong and the other two films regain the majesty that Lord of the Rings had…theres still time for improvement…hopefully!!

  11. It’s absolute nonsense that the 48 frames-per-second would be in any way a bad thing. I immediately felt that this was easily the best 3D quality that I have ever seen. You hardly noticed any usual 3D clutter and distorted visuals that have so far been in every 3D movie I have watched. Why would you be less immersed if it looks more like real life? There is no logic in this as the extra detail makes the overall experience will of course be even more immersing.

  12. I just saw it for the third time. It is a great movie, as were the three Lord of the Rings movies, and like them “The Hobbit An Unexpected Journey” has differences from the books. The tricky thing about reading Tolkien has always been the vast Middle Earth material he wrote in addition to The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings. There are back-stories and mid-stories and fore-stories throughout the additional writings. I want to believe that Peter Jackson and his team have read a lot of the additional material. It does not excuse the changes they make to the story and a couple of bad choices they make, but it does provide some positive balance to their occasional bad choices. The treatment and tone Jackson gives to Gandalf stopping to see Bilbo at the beginning of the story is dead on, as is the resulting “unexpected party” when the Dwarves show up at Bilbo’s. In the chapter “The Quest for Erebor”in additional maaterial both Gandalf’s meeting with Bilbo on the morning of the unexpected party and the party that night are exactly consistent with the backstory in the additional material written by Tolkien and published by his son Christopher after his death as “Unfinished Tales of Numenor and Middle Earth”. Gandalf fills in some of the blanks leading up to his seemingly chance visit to Bilbo on the morning before the unexpected party. In the movie, Gandalf seems to know more than he is telling Bilbo, and in fact knows a good deal about Bilbo, as Gandalf says it “perhaps more than Mr. Baggins knows about himself”. In the additional material we learn that Gandalf visited Thorin Oakenshield days before he visited Bilbo, and convinced Thorin to form the company of Dwarves, including Bilbo the Hobbit, to go on the adventure to the Lonely Mountain to reclaim the Dwarves treasure and heritage from Smaug. It was all prearranged. Gandalf had a much broader strategy to counter the Necromancer, who he knew was Sauron rebuilding his strength. The Dwarves retaking of the Lonely Mountain was just one part of Gandalf’s broader strategy. When the Dwarves arrived at Bilbo’s Hobbit hole thay already know Gandalf has arranged for Bilbo to accompany them, and Thorin’s skepticism that Bilbo was a useful companion was already in his mind before he arrived for the unexpected party. Gandalf promised to give Thorin both the map and the key if Thorin would agree to lead the Dwarves on the quest and take Bilbo as one of the group. The map and the key were the inducements Gandalf offered to Thorin for taking Bilbo with them. If Jackson and his team read this additional material, then the tone they set for Gandalf’s meeting with Bilbo that morning was exactly right – Gandalf was not randomly looking for someone to go on an adventure, he had already chosen Bilbo and was there to maneuver him into it. The same goes for tone of the unexpected party. Thorin had already been “paid” with the map and the promised key for taking the Hobbit with them, and the late evening discussion in hushed tones about the adventure was theatre for Bilbo’s benefit. Still, when Jackson gets tone and events like these right, consistent with Tolkien’s backstories in the voluminous Middle Earth writings, it is disappointing that in other choices he not only diverges from Tolkien but changes fundamental Tolkien in ways that are just plain wrong. Understanding that it is “just a movie” and Jackson has to use his judgment to sell as many tickets as he can, the balance between the things he gets exactly right and those he choose to change exactly wrong has to be lived with. The movie is great with good things and not-so-good. The good far outweighs the not-so-good.

  13. A movie is not a book, and a book is not a movie. Adapting a book for the screen is what they did with ‘Harry Potter’ or ‘Chronicles of Narnia.’ A few scenes are omitted, a few lines are made up, Dudley’s hair is black instead of blond, that sort of thing. What Jackson and Boyens did is caricature, pointless fabrication, and senseless sensationalization. As an example of the latter, take the goblin caves. The Jackson/Boyens version evokes *nothing* of the dark, often narrow, and winding feel you get from the book; theirs seems to be a magnification of what they produced as Moria in LOTR. In fact, much of what they do in ‘Hobbit’ is mere magnification of what they did in LOTR, bread and circuses for the masses.

    • I agree with you. I remember when Fellowship came out everyone was talking about how the screenplay managed to capture a complicated book. The Hobbit is a transitivity. And I don’t see how any “purist” could defend it.

      • Thank you! I don’t think I could take another “what a great movie!” review. The whole point of ‘bread and circuses’ is that they keep people from seeing how much better things *could* be. I’m reminded of a line from ‘Jurassic Park,’ which I will shamelessly paraphrase for this movie: They were too busy trying to figure out whether they *could* change things for the screen that they didn’t stop to ask themselves whether they *should*.

        • I have to think most of these people are going to come to their senses sooner or later, however stubbornly or painfully. Will anybody be talking about this movie in ten years? It will be a footnote next to LOTR.

          • Sadly, I’m afraid it will be all too easy to equate box office success with artistic success.

            • I think people know the difference, and I’m predicting that a lot of them will figure this out over time. I must have seen FOTR a half dozen times in theaters, and then watched it again and again. I’ve watched it with people who had no interest in seeing it and they were always floored.

              The Hobbit, on the other hand, is a big bright shiny balloon that has already begun to leak air. Keep reading comments. More and more you’ll see people saying they’ve seen it again, and that the more they watch it the more problems they see with it. I predict.

              • You might be right. I had a conversation with my 9 y.o. nephew on New Year’s day. He had just seen the movie, after having read the book. He wasn’t happy with the liberties taken by the movie. I myself would have fewer objections, had they changed the titled; it’s not, really, ‘The Hobbit’ (certainly not Tolkien’s, anyway). It should be called ‘A very unexpected adventure, being Peter Jackson’s steroidal version, based very loosely on Tolkien’s characters and concept.’

                • I think the movie’s key flaw is that it strives to leave nothing to the viewer’s imagination. Whereas Tolkien brilliantly relied on the reader’s imagination, Jackson tries, misguidedly it seems to me, to connect all the dots and fill in all the gaps, magnifying things to bigger-than-life proportions, and in this way loses contact both with the story and with the viewer (at least, with this viewer). Even the decision to film in HD, etc, etc seems to be a reflection of his desire to leave nothing to the imagination. Maybe it’s just me, but it seems to me that the best stories touch us so deeply and move us so profoundly precisely because they know how to leave something to our own, personal imagination.

                  • On further reflection, I think the film’s key flaw is hubris: thinking that the book could be improved upon, or needed to be improved upon, by changing key elements of plot and character. Put differently, the hubris lies in Jackson and Boyens thinking they are better storytellers than Tolkien himself.

                    • Marvin, I completely agree! The scenes I was most excited to see in the film were the goblins attacking the ponies and dwarves in the dark, and the forest being lit on fire at the end. These scenes were beautiful and terrifying in the book, but stale and kitschy in the film because of how much was changed. Where’s my screaming horses being attacked by an unknown assailant in what seemed to be a safe cave? Where’s my cackling singing goblins delighting in our company being roasted alive?

                      Just do it like Tolkien did it!

                    • If they’d made only one movie (2.5 to 3 hours) that moved along but was epic and fun I could forgive a lot of changes. I’m not against changes. The Pale Orc actually provided (make that “could have provided”) some momentum. I might not like every change but I’ll be okay if it’s a good movie.

                      As it is, it is just a bad movie. The things I disliked the most were that they didn’t have Gandalf fooling the Trolls by imitating and throwing his voice, and the overplayed intro of the ring with huge close-ups, etc. Also I could have done without Gandalf using the moths to call the eagles. Couldn’t they have explained that they owed him one but didn’t want to go near where men are? But I’m not going to blame these things for how bad the movie is.

                      The scenes just lingered and there seemed no effort to edit and combine things. I was thinking about how awful that scene was where Gandalf presents the key. Nothing said, just a long shot of the key. Why?? In the book Thorin accusingly asks why he was only now getting the map and key, which wove the backstory into the narrative (briefly of course. LOTR movie NEEDED the intro, but it was brief. The Hobbit’s intro is too long and superfluous to boot). So many scenes could be cut. So many could be rewritten and reshot with less film (I guess pixels are free, so shoot away).

                      As for Tolkien, much of the enjoyment of the Hobbit comes from it’s brisk, understated tone (and the singular perspective of Bilbo). In that I will agree that they are not capturing the book.

                    • Oh, and have you noticed that since the intro of LOTR (which was needed and worked) that there are a lot of bad movies that use that, probably in hopes of getting a pavlovian response from audience who liked LOTR. But far and away movies that start with a tacked on intro are bad movies. This is almost a rule. The Hobbit could have easily told the backstory (and much less of it) with dialoge and some flashbacks.

                      I have to say that though that I was dying to know who nailed the “party business only” sign to the fence (never in a million years would have guessed it was Frodo. Before this I thought he was a pretty nonconsequential character. Not now though).

                    • “I make movies for myself. I’m not somebody that has a great deal of interest in what the world wants to see.” (Peter Jackson, cited in Rolling Stone’s “Hobbit” Collector’s Edition.)

                      That explains a lot.

                    • That’s such a cop-out and pure BS. It does say a lot though. I’m sorry but his movies are generally very much geared towards the audience and telling a story. He wouldn’t have achieved the amount of success he has if that weren’t the case. What is he now? Some experimental avant garde film-maker? That comment is a huge “red flag.” He knows he made (or is making) a turkey.

                    • That’s priceless. Thanks.

  14. Peter Jackson has invented a new category of “bad.” Forget the George Lucas comparisons, Jackson is firmly in Ed Wood territory. It looked like the actors got into costume, the camera was turned on, and they started working with the first draft of the script. I saw it in the HFR which truly must be seen to not be believed (the fact that they chose to use this untested new format, for no reason that might serve the movie [quite the opposite], is just another sign of what a jumbled mess of a production this is). No description I’ve heard of HFR does it justice. It does make it look like a TV show on the Sci-fi channel. The costumes look like costumes. The sets look like sets, etc. It also has the eerie effect of making it look like a live play. Actually it looks more like a live actors workshop, where the actors are playing around “finding the characters.” The screenplay is an unedited monstrosity. The whole movie could easily have been parred down to one hour or less, leaving plenty of room for supplemental material and the occasional flourish.

    This is nothing like the first LOTR. With that movie every scene, every word of dialogue, every decision to speed things up or slow things down ultimately served the story, the movie. The Hobbit is a joke, and a very bad one. It plays out like you are watching a bunch of connected episodes of a take-it-or-leave-it (the latter if you have any taste) Saturday morning live action/CGI TV show.

    I do think he almost found his footing in the last five minutes, but the previous 2 hours and 45 minutes are a slog. I suppose that’s why so many “positive” reviews say basically that this movie was long and boring, “but he managed to set up the future installments.” Ah, hope springs eternal. I believe there were similar reviews of the first Godfather movie (that’s sarcasm).

    The HFR is a trip though. I’m glad I saw it that way. What a mess.

    • Great comments! Made me chuckle in agreement.

    • It’s ‘Plan 9, From Middle Earth’!

  15. Was not impressed at all, I didn’t know if I was watching Glee or the sci fi channel the HD was amazing but the movie itself seemed geared towards a younger age group 5-12 maybe that’s why it has such a great review.

  16. Brilliant structure, well made. 5 stars

  17. The Hobbit is better than any of them, possibly even The Two Towers.

  18. OMG! Sheep! Bahhhhhhh! Can no one just go and watch a movie to enjoy it for what it is instead of expecting a letter perfect copy of a book? I stopped doing that after ABC so royally screwed up an absolutely perfect book with their horrific version of ‘It’. These days, I try not to read a book before I see a movie. I admit, it’s been many years since I last read ‘The Hobbit’ — I read it to my son when he was around 6 or 7, and he turns 43 in a few days — but I don’t think P.J. and CO did such a bad job. I found the movie very enjoyable, because I wasn’t looking for things to be wrong in it. I just welcomed it as another visit to Middle Earth. Perhaps some of the critics here should do the same.

    • You make a good point. Maybe it would have helped those of us hoping to see ‘The Hobbit’ on screen if PJ and Co. had called it that – ‘Another Visit to Middle Earth.’ Might have been more intellectually honest, anyway.

  19. Despite hearing what the critics had to say, I enjoyed The Hobbit. The first hour was a bit bland, but once the adventure started, it was great.

  20. I loved it. It expanded on small events to make the story even more interesting I also liked the beginning which put it in perspective as the Lord of the Rings was produced forst.

  21. This movie is epic! Hopefully part 2 keeps the pace and story as well, I don’t think Part 3 will have a problem, but part 2 being the middle of the trilogy, it tends to get a little bit boring mid-way through the trilogy (The Two towers for example, good but the most boring out of all 3 LotRs).

  22. have not read the books,but i have seen all the movies and now i think the first hobbit movie has answered a lot of puzzles from the lord of the rings.excellent viewing cannot wait for next!

  23. Very good movie (not great) but good .

  24. What is wrong with everyone? This movie is fantastic! “Oh its not EXACTLY like the book so lets bash it til it bleeds on the carpet!”…. No just no…. I love the book, I love the movie, I love the Lord Of The Rings trilogy more…. But you need to look at this movie for what it is, a interpretation of one of the best books (aside from LOTR) ever created! It will not be perfect! I rate it a 4.6 out of 5!

  25. Oh come on guys (and girls) … what is it about your 25% of fantasy fans that whenever a prequel trilogy comes out you start moaning and whining about how they ripped up your best chldhood/cinema experience so far. Most of these “critics” here write so much rubbish!
    For example the suggestion that narrative of the book “The Hobbit” cannot be improved upon. Of course it can, Tolkien revised the narrative of the Hobbit himself after he started on his LOTR trilogy. During his entire life he has been adding, changing and reconsidering legend and lore of Middle Earth. But if a filmmaker, who clearly has read enough Tolkien to be awarded the artistic freedom of interpretation, does exactly what he is supposed to do: Interpret; then suddenly the whining starts.
    I am also rather sick & tired of all these “continuity nazi’s” whether it is in Starwars or in LOTR/Hobbit. If you claim Goblins & Orcs are different species then the glowing of Sting in the presence of Goblins is a mistake? Honestly? You mean the Elves would be as pityful as you lot in designing a magic weapon that has extremely sensitive ethnicity properties?

    Maybe instead of reading LOTR every year you should do some wider reading in the world of Myth and Legend and come to the realization that Myth and Legends live by re-telling, including re-telling in alternate intepretations, with alternate narrative elements and alternate plots. Legends & Lore that has been “canonized” is dead and often no longer recognizable as epic or mythical. Because “canonization” is an activity only very bording and unimaginative beings engage in.

    So there you go: cherish your “childhood memories” of the “one and true LOTR” or of the “One and Only StarWars” for with an attitude like this your life may be long and prosperous but is in actuality already over! You have more sense of Accounting than of Myth, you may “know it all” about the books but you have sucked in none of their wisdom.

    • Nice that you can express your own opinion without dismissing others’.

      • Besides, Tolkien had license to work and re-work his own creation, and knew a thing or two about myths, legends, sagas, and philiology. I’m not quite sure what expertise or genius gives Peter Jackson that right, but I can say he is no Tolkien.

    • You are the man frank!!!! Brilliant

  26. This was an AMAZING movie!!!! I loved it! Can’t wait for part two to come out…December 13, 2013. Will be the first person at the movies to see it!

  27. Here’s a question for you: if The Hobbit was so great, why didn’t it receive any significant Academy Award nominations? It didn’t get any best picture or director nods because it was not a great film. Jackson just rehashes all the things that made LOTR so special, but he muddies it with humor better suited to a Dreamworks animated film (ie. the snot nosed trolls ha ha).
    He tries to make Thorin into an tortured soul a la Aragorn, but it’s boring and laughable imo. I actually refused to see the film a second time with a friend, because I didn’t want to waste another 3 hours of my life or any more money on this crap

  28. Kind of depressing to realize that the DVD is about to come out, and I have virtually zero desire to buy a copy.

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