Bilbo Baggins (Martin Freeman) is a hobbit, who like most hobbits, enjoys a quiet peaceful life in the Shire. Suddenly he's approached by Gandalf (Ian McKellen), the wizard and is asked to come on an adventure. Bilbo is extremely hesitant, but Gandalf returns later that night with thirteen boisterous dwarves led by the honorable Thorin Oakenshield (Richard Armitage). They explain that their quest is to reclaim their home, "The Lonely Mountain" from a dangerous dragon named Smaug. Bilbo is still hesitant but is soon persuaded. Along his journey he encounters elves, sorcerers, mountain trolls, and orcs. He also comes across a creature named Gollum (Andy Serkis) that is in possession of a treasure that will change the course of Middle Earth.
What Worked - Peter Jackson's visual scope of The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey is completely mesmerizing. Shots of the New Zealand's countryside are vast and sweeping. It feels as if you never left the ancient land of Middle Earth. So now about the actors. In my opinion, the three characters that really stood out to me were Bilbo Baggins, Gandalf the Grey, and Gollum. Bilbo played wonderfully by Martin Freeman, at the beginning comes off as a whiny annoying character, but he soon becomes endearing and you can't help but root for him. Ian McKellen returns to reprise his role as Gandalf, and at this point I can't even picture anyone else being Gandalf. Ian McKellen completely owns this role and does another fantastic job with his character. Andy Circus returns as Gollum, in what is arguably the best sequence in the whole movie. It's the scene where Bilbo plays life-and-death game of riddles with Gollum. It's vastly entertaining, sprinkled with bits of humor and nail biting moments. You can just tell Peter Jackson and his team put a lot of thought and energy in the sequence to get it just right. Moving on to the costumes particularly with the 12 dwarves. They do a wonderful job at visually distinguishing each individual dwarf from one another. And if that's not enough to convince you to go see The Hobbit, than read on. We finally get our first glimpse of a woman dwarf. I can't tell you how often I've wondered how a female dwarf would look. Surprisingly not ugly.
What Didn't Work - The beginning is horribly paced. It takes almost a good 40 minutes to an hour before Bilbo actually leaves to go on his adventure. It would have been fine if there were more meaningful dialogue or crucial moments, but the majority of it just felt like filler. For example, there's a whole scene that's supposed to take place just moments before The Fellowship of the Ring series. Frodo played by Elijah Wood along with Ian Holm who plays Bilbo from the original Lord of the Rings series have a brief scene. The scene itself is fine, but it just felt unnecessary to the story and would've been better suited for the extended editions. It was also very apparent that Ian Holm has gotten older, and the makeup crew tried to make him look a bit younger. But in my opinion I thought he looked like an old man with a baby face, it was creepy. I know I may be nitpicking, but it was distracting for me. Remember how I said that visually the dwarves were distinguishable from each other, well the same can't be said about their personalities. You're never really given an opportunity to get to know or care for most of the dwarves. Now I can imagine how difficult it must be for the Hobbit team to develop all thirteen dwarves' characters. But come on, I'm not even sure that half of the dwarves had speaking lines. At most we're able to get to know four of the dwarves. I'm hoping that in the extended editions and the next two movies we'll get to know these characters a bit more.
48 fps - Now to be clear I didn't see the movie in the 48 frames per second. The theater I went to go see it in told me it was, but it obviously wasn't. After hearing numerous complaints along with very few praises, here is my opinion that doesn't really count. Peter Jackson, why would you experiment on such a beloved series. You don't even know if the audience will like it. I mean I can appreciate trying new things, but why not try it on a smaller film that no one cares about and then listen to the audience response. It just seemed like a stupid and risky decision. Again my opinion on this doesn't really count since I didn't see the movie in this version.
Overall - The Hobbit : An Unexpected Journey has a bit of a misfire around the beginning. But after you get through that hiccup, it becomes a roaring adventure, full of spectacle, humor and plenty of action. It's a good start to a trilogy, but not as strong or emotionally gripping as the beginning of the Lord of the Rings trilogy. I would highly recommend seeing it in theaters, and I can't wait to see what we have in store in the sequel, The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug.
A quote from movie -
Thorin Oakenshield - Forgive me for doubting you.
Bilbo Baggins - No, it's fine. I would have doubted me too.
So what did you think? Was the hobbit disappointing or did you like it? Let me know.