‘THE HOBBIT: AN UNEXPECTED JOURNEY’
Please feel free to comment on my review.
Off to the Lonely Mountain – The Adventure Begins
“In a hole in the ground, there lived a Hobbit…”
‘The Lord of the Rings’ film trilogy is one of my favourites! So it’s no surprise that I was looking forward to returning to Middle-Earth in Peter Jackson’s new movie trilogy of ‘The Hobbit’. 2003 was happy period for me with ‘The Lord of the Rings’. That movie trilogy gave me many nostalgic memories.
I read ‘The Hobbit’ book by J.R.R. Tolkien back in 2006. This was so I could read ‘The Lord of the Rings’ books. I enjoyed reading ‘The Hobbit’ as a book, but it was a while since I could recall any of it to see the films. Imagine my surprise when I discovered the book would be adapted as a film trilogy.
I wondered how one book could be adapted into three-film story. I would have preferred ‘The Hobbit’ as a single movie instead of three films. But Peter Jackson and his filmmaking team could do wonders with being so passionate and inventive in the world of Middle-Earth. It was all very exciting.
‘The Hobbit’ is set before ‘The Lord of the Rings’ trilogy and it’s all about Bilbo Baggins. This actually Bilbo’s story of having an adventure away from the Shire with joining Gandalf and the dwarves to fight the orcs; goblins; wargs and coming up against Smaug the Dragon. Oh…and he also gets a ring.
‘The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey’ was released on DVD and Blu-ray in 2013. I first purchased the 5-disc extended edition of the film on DVD. This had new extra footage and 9 hours of special features. My parents and I now have the film as part of ‘The Hobbit’/’The Lord of the Rings’ 30-disc set on Blu-ray.
When I first saw the movie at the cinema back in December 2012, I loved the opening prologue scene narrated by Ian Holm as Bilbo. He writes about dwarves, Erebor and Smaug in his red book. It was also great to see Elijah Wood return as Frodo Baggins at the beginning of the film with old Bilbo.
Martin Freeman (from ‘Sherlock’) stars as Bilbo Baggins, the hero of the story. Bilbo of course is a hobbit who lives in the Shire. Hobbits are peace-loving folk and they don’t go seeking for adventures and danger. They mostly live homely lives in rural areas. Bilbo Baggins fits that description succinctly.
In the story, Bilbo lives in Bag End, his hobbit-hole in Hobbiton in the Shire. Bilbo lives peacefully and contentedly in Bag-End. Like all hobbits, he doesn’t want any adventures. But he meets the wizard Gandalf the Grey whom he knew as a little lad and his home soon gets invaded by thirteen dwarves.
Ian McKellen returns as Gandalf the Grey in ‘The Hobbit’ film trilogy. Gandalf meets Bilbo when he offers him the chance to join him on an adventure with the thirteen dwarves. But Bilbo is very reluctant to join him. He’s lived most of his life in the Shire and has not considered leaving his home.
The quest that Gandalf has asked Bilbo to join him and the dwarves on is this. The dwarves are seeking to reclaim their lost home, the Lonely Mountain called Erebor. It’s currently occupied by the fiery dragon called Smaug. Gandalf has chosen Bilbo to be the ‘burglar’ to get inside the Lonely Mountain.
There’s clearly more focus on dwarves in ‘The Hobbit’ film trilogy compared to the ‘LOTR’ trilogy. This is due to there being thirteen dwarves featured in the film trilogy and they are the Company of Thorin. From watching these movies at the cinema, it was pretty challenging to tell who was who. 😀
The leader of the company is Richard Armitage as Thorin Oakenshield. I’ve seen Richard Armintage in the 2006 BBC TV drama serial ‘North & South’. In ‘The Hobbit’, Thorin is a battle-hardened prince who won’t rest till he and his company reclaim Erebor. He’s sceptical about Bilbo and he doesn’t trust elves.
In ‘The Hobbit’, Thorin has two nephews. They’re Dean O’Gorman as Fili and Aidan Turner as Kili. Both are brothers of course as well as fighters among Thorin’s Company. They come across as pretty young and reckless, but they’re fiercely loyal to Thorin when they embark on this great quest to Erebor.
There’s Ken Stott as Balin and Graham McTavish as Dwalin, who are also brothers in ‘The Hobbit’ film trilogy. Balin is a wise dwarf and this is the one who would later die in Moria according the first ‘LOTR’ film ‘The Fellowship of the Ring’. 😦 Dwalin also seems to be a very loyal warrior in Thorin’s Company.
There’s also William Kicher as Bifur; James Nesbitt as Bofur and Stephen Hunter as Bombur. These three dwarves are cousins of Thorin in ‘The Hobbit’. Bifur only speaks dwarvish, Bofur is direct and funny, and Bombur is fat and dopey. I find Bofur to be the most developed of the three cousins in these movies.
There’s also Mark Hadlow as Dori; Jed Brophy (who played different characters in the ‘LOTR’ films) as Nori and Adam Brown as Ori. These three dwarves are brothers in ‘The Hobbit’. Dori happens to be classy and caring, Nori happens to be crafty and evasive, and Ori happens to be the youngest one of the Company of Thorin.
And there’s John Gallen as Óin and Peter Hambleton as Glóin. They’re also brothers in ‘The Hobbit’. Óin is the physician among the Company of Thorin whilst Glóin is the firemaker of the company. Glóin also happens to be the father of Gimli in the ‘LOTR’. I’m surprised Glóin didn’t stand out more.
Eventually, Bilbo soon agrees to join Gandalf and the dwarves on their mission to Erebor. He leaves the Shire behind him to have an exciting time, going to places he’s never been to and facing terrible monsters. He grows to learn how having an adventure outside his home isn’t always the smoothest.
In this film, Bilbo and the company get to go to the Trollshaw Forest where they confront the three stone trolls called Tom, Bert and William. They want to eat the dwarves as well as Bilbo, but Gandalf soon turns them into stone. This sets things up for what’s in the ‘LOTR’ film ‘The Fellowship of the Ring’.
The movie also introduces Sylvester McCoy as Radagast the Brown, a fellow wizard friend of Gandalf’s. Sylvester is well-known for playing the Seventh Doctor in ‘Doctor Who’! Radagast is a wizard like Gandalf, although he’s more interested in the birds and the animals than other things in life.
As the movie progresses, it turns out the Company of Thorin are in great danger. They’re being hunted by orcs and their warg scouts that are preventing them achieving their quest. The orc leader is Azog the Defiler who commands every orc to hunt the dwarves and he wants to kill Thorin.
Very soon, Gandalf, Bilbo and the dwarves visit Rivendell, which is a refuge of the elves close to the Misty Mountains. The Company of Thorin receives help for their quest to Erebor from Hugo Weaving as Elrond, the ruler of Rivendell. They also meet the elves of Rivendell who are beautiful and graceful.
In the extended version of the movie, there’s a nice scene of Bilbo seeing more of Rivendell. I enjoyed it when Bilbo got to have a conversation with Elrond as he considers staying in Rivendell. This sets things up nicely for when Bilbo does actually decide to stay in Rivendell in the ‘LOTR’ films.
I also enjoyed it when Gandalf meets up with the White Council in Rivendell. As well as Elrond, there’s Cate Blanchett as Galadriel and Christopher Lee as Saruman. The four of them discuss the dwarves’ quest to Erebor as well as the Necromancer, a new threat from the fortress of Dol Guldur.
It was great to see Cate Blanchett as Galadriel in the movie. Galadriel is the lady of the elven kingdom called Lothlórien. In ‘The Hobbit’ movies, she has an interesting relationship with Gandalf. They share a telepathic communication with each other. This is especially during the White Council scene.
Elrond also has an interesting friendship with Gandalf in ‘The Hobbit’ films. Elrond becomes sceptical of the quest to Erebor taken by Gandalf and the dwarves. Pretty soon, Elrond, Galadriel and Saruman are surprised when Gandalf reveals to them of this terrible evil reawakening in Middle-Earth.
It was a nice surprise to see Christopher Lee as Saruman in the movie. By this point, Saruman is a good, wise wizard. This is before he becomes an enemy in the ‘LOTR’ films. However, he disapproves of Radagast the Brown because of him eating mushrooms. He also believes power is very important.
Eventually, the Company of Thorin and Bilbo leave Rivendell unawares whilst the White Council scene goes on. They continue their journey up the Misty Mountains and soon fall into a trap. The dwarves get captured by these horrible goblins living in the Misty Mountains, led by the Goblin King.
The Goblin King is pretty hideous in the film. In the extended version of the movie, the Goblin King likes to sing a song. It turns out to be pretty terrible indeed. 😀 He recognises who Thorin is and is very determined to keep the dwarves in their custody before handing them over to Azog the Defiler.
Meanwhile, Bilbo manages to sneak away without the goblins seeing him. He soon falls down into the depths of the mountains with one goblin though and eventually meets up with Andy Serkis as Gollum. Gollum is this wretched creature who says ‘precious’ a lot and he wants to eat Bilbo whole.
Beforehand, Bilbo picked up a gold ring on the way. He hides it from Gollum when he meets him. Very soon, Bilbo gets into a game of riddles with Gollum, which I enjoyed watching. This is so he can find the way out of the mountains by Gollum. Bilbo cheats by asking, “What have I got in my pocket?”
Thankfully Bilbo wins the game. But when Gollum deduces that Bilbo has his ‘precious’ ring in his pocket, he chases after him to get it back. It became tense when Bilbo got chased by Gollum. Thankfully, Bilbo uses the ring to make himself invisible in order to escape from Gollum and get out of the mountains.
Back with the dwarves, they’re eventually saved by Gandalf when he turns up. Gandalf and the dwarves make their escape through Goblin Town. The escape scene through Goblin Town was pretty exciting to watch, especially when Gandalf and the dwarves are battling their way through the evil goblins.
Bilbo thankfully manages to re-join Gandalf and the dwarves after escaping Gollum. But it’s soon ‘out of the frying pan and into the fire’ when the orcs led by Azog the Defiler come along to kill Thorin and his kind. It’s a very non-stop action-packed climax for the first ‘Hobbit’ film in the trilogy.
The orcs have their wargs, which are ferocious beasts that are a cross between a wolf; a hyena and a bear. They’re pretty ferocious when they’re chasing after Gandalf; Bilbo and the dwarves. This is especially towards the end of the film once our heroes climb up the trees to get away from the orcs.
As I said, Azog the Defiler wants the head of Thorin Oakenshield. It also transpires Thorin has a score to settle with Azog. This concerns his family during a battle in Moria from long ago. Soon, Thorin gets beaten when he attempts to take on Azog during mortal combat at the end. Things don’t look good.
However, hope is not lost. Bilbo comes to the rescue and saves Thorin from being killed by Azog and the orcs. I found it amazing that Bilbo would be so brave to save Thorin. Very soon, the eagles, summoned by Gandalf, come to the rescue and they take him, the dwarves and Bilbo Baggins away.
The first film ends with the Company of Thorin back together again. Bilbo gains the respect he deserves from Thorin Oakenshield. The company soon look to the east and they see the Lonely Mountain of Erebor before them. The quest continues. But have they really left the worst behind…?
The special features for ‘The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey’ in ‘The Hobbit’/’The Lord of the Rings’ 30-disc Blu-ray set are as follows. On Disc 1, there’s the extended edition of ‘The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey’. There’s also the filmmakers’ audio commentary with director/writer/producer Peter Jackson and writer/co-producer Philippa Boyens. There’s also the ‘New Zealand: Home of Middle-Earth’ behind-the-scenes featurette.
On Disc 2, there are special features from the original theatrical Blu-ray release. This includes the ‘New Zealand: Home of Middle-Earth’ behind-the-scenes featurette once again; the 10 production videos/video blogs; 6 trailers for the movie and 3 game trailers.
On Disc 3, there are ‘The Appendices Part 7: A Long-Expected Journey: The Chronicles of the Hobbit – Part 1’. These cover the making of ‘The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey’ from book to screen, including plenty of documentaries. There’s an introduction by Peter Jackson who explains what goes on in these appendices for ‘The Hobbit’ film trilogy. There’s also the opening; ‘The Journey Back to Middle-Earth’, ‘Riddles in the Dark – Gollum’s Cave’, ‘An Unexpected Party – Bag End’, ‘Roast Mutton – Trollshaw Forest’, ‘Bastion of the Greenwood – Rhosgobel’, ‘A Short Rest – Rivendell & London’, ‘Over Hill… – The Misty Mountains’, ‘…Under Hill – Goblin Town’, ‘Out of the Frying Pan… – The Forest Ledge’, ‘Return to Hobbiton – The Shire’, ‘The Epic of Scene 88 – Strath Taieri’, ‘The Battle of Moria – Azanulbizar’, ‘Edge of the Wilderland – Pick Ups and the Carrock’, ‘Home Is Behind, The World Ahead’ and the credits.
On Disc 4, there are ‘The Appendices Part 8: Return to Middle-Earth’. They focus on the characters and places in ‘The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey’. There’s ‘The Company of Thorin’ which contains six documentaries including ‘Assembling the Dwarves’, ‘Thorin, Fili & Kili’, ‘Balin & Dwalin’, ‘Óin and Glóin’, ‘Dori, Nori and Ori’ and ‘Bifur, Bofur and Bombur’. There’s the ‘Mr. Baggins: The 14th Member’ documentary which focuses on Bilbo Baggins and Martin Freeman who plays him. There’s the ‘Durin’s Folk: Creating the Dwarves’ documentary which focuses on the visualisation of the dwarves in ‘The Hobbit’ film trilogy, including Thorin’s Company and the kingdom of Erebor. And there’s ‘The Peoples and Denizens of Middle-Earth’ which has four documentaries including ‘The Stone Trolls’, ‘Radagast the Brown’, ‘Goblins’, and ‘Azog the Defiler’. There’s also a documentary called ‘The Songs of the Hobbit’ which looks into the songs performed during ‘The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey’ including the two versions of the ‘Song of the Lonely Mountain’. There’s also the section called ‘Realms of the Third Age: From Bag End to Goblin Town’ which contains the documentaries on ‘Hobbiton’, ‘Rhosgobel’, ‘Rivendell’, ‘The Misty Mountains’ and ‘Goblin Town’. The disc ends with the credits.
‘The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey’ is a good beginning to ‘The Hobbit’ film trilogy. In no way, does this trilogy match to the greatness featured in ‘The Lord of the Rings’ films, but this was a very nostalgic and intriguing return to Middle-Earth. I did enjoy seeing the first film twice at the cinema in December 2012.
I did wonder what was going to happen next and how Bilbo Baggins, Gandalf the Grey, Thorin Oakenshield and the dwarves would reach Erebor; fight Smaug the Dragon and get the dwarves’ treasure back. I would have to wait and see, anticipating and feeling the excitement of the next film in the trilogy.
‘The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey’ rating – 9/10
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