The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey: Movie Review
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The Lord of the Rings director Peter Jackson's cinematic take on J.R.R. Tolkien's first classic, The Hobbit, hits theaters today. This first installment in Jackson's new trilogy is the start of Bilbo Baggins' story, the prequel to his nephew Frodo's journey into Mordor to destroy the cursed ring of power.
Familiar faces return alongside a cast of new ones, with Martin Freeman (Sherlock), as young Bilbo and Richard Armitage (Captain America: The First Avenger), as princely dwarf Thorin Oakenshield. Rated PG-13, this adaptation of Tolkien's children's book is not a kid-friendly movie. However, older audiences will be thrilled with its epic adventure.
THE MOVIE IN A MINUTE
Bilbo Baggins leads a comfortable and happy life in the Shire until wizard Gandalf the Grey shows up on his doorstep to invite him on an adventure. Reluctant at first, Bilbo joins Gandalf and a band of 13 dwarves, lead by dwarf warrior Thorin Oakenshield, on a quest to reclaim their homeland, the Lonely Mountain, which is now overrun by a fearsome dragon named Smaug. Unsure if he'll ever return home, Bilbo continues on the quest despite the constant threat of danger as evil forces hunt them.
THE GOOD AND BAD IN THE HOBBIT: AN UNEXPECTED JOURNEY
Assuming this movie is unworthy of your time because of its wizards and magic would be a mistake. The Hobbit is one of the greatest stories written by a devout man of faith. Its fantastical story is deep with impacting storylines and spiritual themes that have the potential to reach inside and outside of the Church.
Though hobbits, goblins and fierce evil warriors called orcs rule the film, human nature is at the center of Bilbo's story. Greed, pride and resentment are pitted against forgiveness, loyalty and courage. These themes permeate this rich parable stressing the differences between right and wrong, good and evil.
Adding context derived from The Return of the King's appendices, Jackson offers moviegoers a complete look at the beginning of Bilbo's tale. Though having watched The Lord of the Rings trilogy does help in watching The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, it's not necessary. Jackson does a solid job introducing Bilbo's story and how it leads to Frodo's expedition through Middle Earth.
“From the smallest beginnings come the greatest legends.”
That's a befitting tagline for Bilbo's adventure with Gandalf and his new dwarf friends. Coming off of the highly successful trilogy The Lord of the Rings, Jackson had the monumental task of making The Hobbit just as enjoyable and accessable as his other blockbusters. The award-winning filmmaker succeeds. With a brilliant score by Oscar-winning composer Howard Shore, the cast engages you from the film's first moments to the credits. Martin Freeman gives just the right amount of comedy and drama to his role as Bilbo. His cave scene with the incredibly talented Andy Serkis as Gollum is a highlight of the film. Richard Armitage embodies Thorin, and it's his elaborate back-story that intensifies the film's urgency and drama. Sir Ian McKellen returns as Gandalf, along with Elijah Wood (for a moment) as Frodo, Hugo Weaving as Lord Elrond and Cate Blanchett as Lady Galadriel.
Rated PG-13 for extended sequences of intense fantasy action violence and frightening images, this film is not appropriate for younger audiences. Also, many of the characters smoke “pipeweed” and drink ale as well. Though The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey has more of a comedic, adventuresome tone than its apocalyptic sequel, it does have a fair number of battle scenes, including a few instances where non-human heads are severed.
IN THE END
The beginning of Bilbo's adventure as shown in The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey is sure to meet any Tolkien fan's high expectations. However, caution is advised for parents of young children, as some of the fighting scenes are too graphic for them; hence the PG-13 rating.
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