Thursday, December 27, 2012

77 Days Till GaryCon! A Quick Review of The Hobbit, An Unexpected Journey

I am probably the last person on the blogosphere the be doing a movie review, especially of this one. My only experience with Tolkien's work is the Rankin/Bass animated version of The Hobbit. I have never read the books nor seen the Lord of the Rings movie trilogy that preceded this film. As a result, I'll be reviewing this movie on it's own merits rather than as a comparison to the book.

The premise for those that don't know goes as follows. Bilbo Baggins is a hobbit living in the hobbit village of Bag End with a rather quiet, if not boring, life. One day he is visited by Gandalf the Grey, a wizard and family friend that wants Bilbo to come along with him on an adventure. Despite his initial refusal, Bilbo finds himself the reluctant host to Gandalf and a party of twelve dwarves led by Thorin Oakenshield, the heir to the sacked kingdom of Erebor. The dwarves plan to retake their kingdom, which was overrun by the dragon Smaug long ago. Since there is no direct way to enter the kingdom now, the plan is for Bilbo to act as the group's 'burglar' and find a way to sneak in.

Despite his initial misgivings, Bilbo goes along with Gandalf and the dwarves on their adventure. Being unsuited for combat, Bilbo survives the various encounters in the movie with his wits. Though this is not apparent to his traveling companions at first. Along the way Bilbo picks up a few magical items (including a certain ring) that help him on his journey.

The movie is fast-paced and carries both a good measure of humor and action. This is fitting given it's setting as a high fantasy adventure. The action scenes are well done and give the dwarves plenty of opportunity show their individual strengths. The villains (yes plural) are interesting and compelling. From the trolls that attempt to make a meal of the heroes to the orc leader Azog, sworn enemy of Thorin, we have reason to believe that these beings are threats to the heroes, even if it's for a short time.

The pacing on the movie is excellent. The running time is listed at 2 hours 50 minutes, yet seems to breeze by rather quickly. My brother and I were shocked when the movie ended, and had to refer to our watches to confirm that three hours did indeed pass. Even the non-action scenes served some purpose, though fans of the books and original movie trilogy may find them unessecary.

Overall, I am giving a "highly recommended" to The Hobbit, An Unexpected Journey. It provides a great story with plenty of laughs and thrills, and definitely leaves you waiting in anticipation for the next film. Or in my case, a desire to head to the bookstore and finally get around to reading the book.

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