As I’m holidaying in New Zealand, the land of Middle-Earth, I had the delightful privilege of seeing the first Hobbit movie ahead of the rest of my country. On the evening of the 12th of December, we piled eagerly into a cinema that was showing The Hobbit in multiple theatres simultaneously. I was excited.
Sir Peter Jackson has not lost his magical touch.
The Hobbit is a long movie, but it doesn’t feel long. The pacing is absolutely wonderful. From the first minute I felt entirely engrossed in the story, whilst a little part of me wondered what was going to happen next and another little part of me hoped that the movie wouldn’t end for a while yet.
The adaptation is fairly faithful to the book, from what I can remember (which is not much, unfortunately) though I believe a few imaginative liberties were taken with the storyline of Radagast and the Necromancer (do correct me if I’m wrong; my Middle-Earth knowledge is hazy at best).
The fight scenes are wonderfully choreographed; special effects are universally impressive; the monsters are deliciously disgusting. Comedy and poignancy are perfectly inserted into the drama: the riddle scene with Bilbo and Gollum is a real treat. Fans of the Rings movies will enjoy seeing familiar faces and even scenes.
Martin Freeman is well cast as the bumbling Bilbo (our LOTR Rover guide smartly informed us that a “bilbo” is an old English word for a small sword!). I’ve always enjoyed Freeman’s performances (Watson in BBC’s recent Sherlock TV series; Arthur Dent in the Hitchhiker’s movie) and his understated comedic timing.
Credits to special effects for reducing the 6 foot 2 Richard Armitage (Robin Hood, North and South, Spooks) to a 140cm-ish dwarf king. His character was perhaps a little two-dimensional; but I suppose he had twelve other dwarves to share screen time with.
All in all, An Unexpected Journey maintains the epic, magical, slightly sentimental but altogether fantastic atmosphere of the LOTR series. Plus, you get to see an magnificent array of braided beards. I just wonder: it’s a short book; I hope they have enough content to keep the next two movies at an equally exciting pace.