The Hobbit: An unexpected surprise
by Hae-Lin Cho
Published February 19, 2013
As I stepped into the theater to watch the film adaptation of JRR Tolkein’s “The Hobbit,” or “There and Back Again,” I felt little of the excitement that rifled through the social media sphere about the prequel to Peter Jackson’s famous “The Lord of the Rings” trilogy that I loved so dearly.
After all, who could fill the (metaphoric, since Hobbits go barefoot) shoes of Frodo, Sam, Merry or Pippin?
Apparently, Bilbo Baggins could.
With the support of the brilliant director, Peter Jackson, “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey” provided great visuals, adventure and most importantly, another set of quirky, brave and loveable characters.
Even those who have not seen (or read) “The Lord of the Rings” will appreciate the stunning CGI graphics at work in “The Hobbit.” The scenery of the Elvish settlement of Lord Elrond remain breathtaking, while the underground tunnels of the goblins will make anyone shiver. Although I did not find the goblins as disgustingly horrifying as the orcs in the original trilogy, Gollum returns with a vengeance, even more hauntingly creepy than before.
And no one can deny the clever plot line of “The Hobbit.” In spite of a few key discrepancies with the novel version like the addition of Thorin’s hatred of elves and the bulked role of Azog, the film stays relatively close to the book. All the better because the adventure threatens to leap from the screen. Despite the more mature nature of the film adaptation, the thrills of the novel remain: the trolls and Smaug the dragon.
However, where “The Hobbit” truly shines as a success is in its introduction of a new set of all types of characters to cherish. Who could resist the quirkiness of Ragadast? The beloved fellowship is replaced by an equally loveable set of 13 dwarves and hobbit, Bilbo Baggins. The funny antics of Fili and Kili are reminiscent of Merry and Pippin; the grave, leader-aura of Thorin bring back images of Aragorn.
The acting is also very convincing. All the characters fit their roles extremely well, especially Martin Freeman, who radiates the particular personality of Bilbo Baggins.
These characters are the life of Jackson’s (and Tolkein’s) work. We are drawn to the films because we fear for these characters, laugh with (and at) them, love their mistakes and triumphs and overall experience with them. The pity we feel for Gollum, the thumping in the viewer’s chest as we watch Bilbo charge Azog, the laughter as the dwarves inspect the Elvish vegetables in distaste. The emotions that threaten to overwhelm us really make this film the masterpiece it is.
The only place where “The Hobbit” fell was with its length. At almost three hours long, some with low tolerance for longer movies may suffer through the detailed scenes and explanations.
Overall, no, The Hobbit was not “The Lord of the Rings.” I don’t think anyone in Tolkein’s majestic world can ever take the place of Sam (yes, Samwise Gamgee and not Frodo Baggins) in my heart. But the slight references to the trilogy, the return of several characters like Galadriel, Saruman, Gandalf and a guest appearance from Frodo himself brought back waves of pleasant nostalgia.
Fans of the original trilogy, of Tolkein’s books, of fantasy in general will not be disappointed by “The Hobbit.”
Take it from someone who stepped into the movie theater with the lowest expectations but emerged already anticipating the next film to take me further on my journey there and back.
The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey
2 hours 46 minutes
Rated PG-13 for extended sequences of intense fantasy action violence, and frightening images
Directed by Peter Jackson
With Ian McKellen, Martin Freeman, Richard Armitage, Ken Stott and Graham McTavish
Here is an official trailer of “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey.”
Property of WarnerBroPictures.
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