I grew up with hobbits, goblins, elves, and dwarves. Early in life I had the chance to see the classic Hobbit animated film, a movie which still holds a special place in my heart. Ever since the final credits rolled on Peter Jackson’s 2003 version of Return of the King I have deeply desired to see The Hobbit get the feature film treatment. In anticipation of this film I have watched The Lord of the Rings trilogy in its entirety twice in the last month. I was excited for tonight. So how did The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey hold up against my nearly lifelong expectations?
Thematically An Unexpected Journey sets a familiar tone for fans of Peter Jackson’s previous forays into Middle Earth, at least at the outset of the film. Fans of the written fiction who expect to find a more light-hearted approach need not fret, this movie does not stray far from its roots. There are embellishments, alterations, and frequent expoundings upon but all serve to enhance the story being told.
The tale itself is one that instantly feels incredibly familiar, and yet fresh. The cinematography is what you might expect from a journey to Middle-Earth; full of wide shots and stretching landscapes. What you might not expect is all of the color. Where The Lord of the Rings trilogy was frequently washed in grayish drab color, An Unexpected Journey rarely gets lost in greyscale. The special effects were top notch, although I chose to view the film in 2D for my initial viewing. My biggest delights in the film were the soundtrack and the frequent nods to the written fiction. For the former there are familiar tunes and to the latter it put a smile on my face every time.
This is a well adapted tale, that at nearly three hours long, never felt slow or dry. It is a grand adventure that somehow manages to continue the legacy for Jackson’s interpretation of Middle-Earth while preceding that which has come before. All in all The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey was almost exactly what I expected it to be; a charming fun adventure full of both nostalgia and suspense for what’s to come. It feels good to spend time in Middle-Earth again.