REVIEW: The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey

I once read that the worst thing about being an actor is all of the waiting around for something to happen; having watched The Hobbit I completely understand that feeling. […]


two starsI once read that the worst thing about being an actor is all of the waiting around for something to happen; having watched The Hobbit I completely understand that feeling. The only thing unexpected about this journey is that it actually begins.

"Don't make me sit through it again!"

“Don’t make me sit through it again!”

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey is the first of a trilogy serving as a humdrum prequel to the magnificent Lord of the Rings trilogy. Unlike The Lord of the Rings series which was based upon three different books, this new series is only based upon one relatively short book. Originally producers were planning for it to be made into two films before it was decided to milk the series for all it’s worth and stretch the 310 page book into another trilogy.

The adventure begins with the dwarf race being run out of their mountain kingdom of Erebor by a Dragon named Smaug with a penchant for all things golden. They seek the help of Gandalf the Grey who points them in the direction of one Bilbo Baggins. Bilbo reluctantly joins Gandalf and the thirteen far too merry dwarves on their journey, employed as a burglar to reclaim their Fort Knoxian kingdom of opulence by defeating the mighty dragon Smaug.

Unfortunately we barely see Smaug in this film. The chief antagonist of the film is not the mighty dragon as you would expect, it is a large Orc named Azog with a hand that even Jeremy Beadle would have gasped at. What we do get a lot of though is seemingly sluggish, listless wandering and climbing through arid terrain. The film trudges along with the teasing but ultimately false promise of an exciting finale. Whilst our latest fellowship occasionally encounter some very aesthetically challenged orcs, larcenous Trolls (with the obligatory nose full of snot) and a whole host of odious goblins.

The Great Goblin and 'Napoleon Bonaparte'

The Great Goblin and ‘Napoleon Bonaparte’ have similar chin issues.

As it is based on only the first seven chapters of the novel there is a lack of peril for the main characters, we know they survive because there’s two more films to come. There is a stark contrast between what is at stake here and what was at stake in The Lord of the Rings.

In the Lord of the Rings, Middle Earth was on the verge of being taken over by the Dark Lord Sauron, whereas in The Hobbit, the only thing at stake is the possibility that thirteen annoying Scottish accented dwarves remain homeless. Not to mention the fact that we do not know enough about almost all of the dwarfs to be bothered to see if they survive, or find a new home.

The action scenes are sparse and forgettable, incomparable to those seen in The Lord of the Rings. As for the acting, McKellen as Gandalf commands every scene and looks to have fun doing so whilst Freeman is a good fit for a young Bilbo Baggins. If you are expecting anything similar to The Lord of the Rings, don’t, this is drastically inferior.

The film isn’t completely terrible, there are entertaining moments, but certainly not enough when you consider the sheer duration of this self-indulgent and simply insipid piece of film-making.