Don't you just hate spoilers? I do, too. That's why I always try to include warnings. However, I sometimes ramble a bit too much here or there and maybe a few (or many) key plot points slip without me giving proper notice. So I'd like to include a blanket spoiler warning for the weary internet travelers of the world: Here There Be Spoilers. You've been warned.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey

I watched The Lord of the Rings a few months ago for the first time and chose not to blog about them. Mostly because everyone knows about them and doing so would be like reviewing Star Wars. I prefer to review movies I've only recently seen that are either new or are not so well known these days, but every now and then I'll just do whatever the hell catches my fancy. This caught my fancy. 

I borrowed this film from a good friend of mine and decided that I'd tackle it since I did enjoy Peter Jackson's trilogy enough to see what he could do with the backstory. I haven't seen The Desolation of Smaug yet, but I've kind of already pegged my opinion of this trilogy. 

I once read The Hobbit. I stopped pursuing Tolkien's work in high school because my mind wasn't in the right place, but I do remember the world well enough and I'm sure to return to it eventually. The Hobbit is very much a sing-songy children's book and it vastly different in style then the following trilogy of books. The Hobbit was also much shorter at being only 300 pages. Sure, there's a 125 page appendix that J.R.R. Tolkien wrote, but even that isn't enough to equate to three movies with each weighing in at three hours or so. I knew that the moment I first heard about the trilogy of Hobbit movies being made that what we'd get to watch would be Peter Jackson making shit up for about two hours each movie. There's just no other way for the runtimes of these movies to be filled. 

Luckily, Peter Jackson is a talented enough dude so that even though he completely eviscerated and diluted J.R.R. Tolkien's popular children's book he still managed to make this prequel movie a towering success in my eyes. I barely even recognized the book in this movie, but I still found myself appreciating Jackson's cojones at essentially remaking The Lord of the Rings trilogy in the form of a prequel series. Same mood, same vibe, and same kind of action. He even completely changed the book's target audience. 

Tolkien's trilogy was vastly different than his first book. The first book was meant for children while the trilogy was aimed at adults and carried a much heavier tone. The Hobbit as a book is meant to make children smile. Not much different than Dr. Seuss, really. But it is intelligent enough that adults who like literature can enjoy it, too. 

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey is aimed at fans of the first trilogy and sticks to the same formula. This film has an excellent cast and is guided by such capable hands that it is tough to discredit it or dislike it. Yet I still feel that the original book has been abandoned somewhat since its tone was indeed so different than the movies that claim to be based off of it. Its playful atmosphere has been taken away and the endless amount of action scenes added in leave the product unrecognizable. True, Tolkien himself went back and tried to rewrite The Hobbit (a few times, I think) in order to help it match The Lord of the Rings a bit better, but very few of those rewrites really stuck. 

Even when I take that into consideration it is still tough for me to take The Hobbit as a serious adaptation of Tolkien's work, but it is so entertaining in its own right that it is tough to discount this movie's importance on modern day cinema. This new trilogy will be revered as one of the new classics. Peter Jackson will continue to be considered the master of Tolkien's universe even if he isn't even all that true to Tolkien's work. 

Much like Stanley Kubrick's adaptation of The Shining, The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey will be enjoyed by pretty much anyone who hasn't read the book while its popularity will probably baffle most of those that read and love the book.  

I'll give Jackson and this cast credit and even a "Catalog of Greatness" rating. I loved this movie despite being familiar with the book. I'll see if Jackson's skill continues to wow me. His fillers have been pretty good so far and I want to see if he can continue his alterations to Tolkien's work without tripping up. 


  1. My life has been totally uninhobbitable. I have never read these or seen the movies. Someday soon. I'm going to tackle the first movie and we will see where it goes from there.

    1. The Lord of the Rings is well worth watching. Especially if you watch the extended versions. If only for the cast they are worth watching. Christopher Lee and Ian McKellen staring each other down. Andy Serkis as Gollum. Definitely cool stuff. They definitely nailed the casting for all of the movies. The settings are also fantastic and there's enough action in the movies to make them qualify as legit blockbuster action movies on par with the likes of The Avengers.

      I'm not sure I'd call them the greatest films ever made, but they are impressive.