It’s long, but this first part of the The Hobbit trilogy is worthy of multiple viewings.
By Yong Yung Shin
Comparisons between Peter Jackson’s first installment of the The Hobbit trilogy and his work in The Lord Of The Rings are inevitable, so here you go: An Unexpected Journey falls short only of the high benchmark set by the stupendous The Fellowship Of The Ring, which was, by virtue of the source material, more emotionally charged, with greater character differentiation. With 13 dwarves in The Hobbit, you’ll be forgiven for not being able to keep track of who’s who.
Adapted from J. R. R. Tolkien’s children’s book of the same name, this prequel to LOTR tells of how the adventure-averse hobbit Bilbo Baggins (a perfectly cast Martin Freeman) makes the acquaintance of Gandalf the wizard, who recruits him on an adventure of a lifetime: helping a party of dwarves reclaim their homeland from the ferocious dragon Smaug.
The “adventure”, almost a dirty word in a hobbit’s dictionary, takes Bilbo face-to-face with fearsome orcs and trolls, and it is to Freeman’s credit that one never loses the sense of overwhelming odds the company is pitted against, as his character exudes both endearing innocence and stoutness of heart at each twist and turn.
It also tells of how Bilbo came into possession of the One Ring—yes, the very one that sends his nephew Frodo Baggins on his own quest to Mordor later on in LOTR. The much-anticipated scene where Bilbo meets the wretched creature Gollum (Andy Serkis) imparts an overwhelmingly haunting sense of destiny. Give Andy his award already, you Oscar people!
While the three-hour showtime may not go down well with many casual moviegoers, the seemingly extraneous scenes and dialogue will be a treat for fans. So kudos, Peter Jackson and team, even though you’re mean for making us wait a whole year for the next part. Terribly mean.