In the land of New Zealand, in the heart of Wingnut Studios, director Peter Jackson forged in secret a master film; and in this movie, he poured his brilliance, his detail, and his will that would change pop culture forever. Thus describes the one trilogy to rule them all: The Lord of the Rings. Based on the work of JRR Tolkien, Lord of the Rings made the cinematic leap back in 2001, and the trilogy had a successful 3 year run to say the least. The Lord of the Rings turned haters into believers and fans into…happier fans. 11 years have passed, and though one story has ended, another has begun. This day marks the beginning of the story that started it all: The Hobbit. The tale of Bilbo Baggins hits the big screen with a new trilogy starting off with The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey. With the prequel trilogy now set, can An Unexpected Journey bring us back to Middle Earth or should have the adventure ended in 2003?
An Unexpected Journey starts Bilbo Baggins’ (Martin Freeman) adventure to The Lonely Mountain as he joins the wizard Gandalf (Ian McKellan) and a company of Dwarves to reclaim the kingdom Erebor from the dragon known as Smaug. The start of their journey is not an easy one as Bilbo and the others encounters the likes of Trolls and Orcs. The adventure leads Bilbo to find a mysterious ring that has a bigger part to play then the Hobbit will ever suspect.
The film's plot has a sense of adventure to it. Even with journey's slow start, I could not help but be intrigue all the way through this film, This beginning not only helps elaborate what we can expect from the rest of the trilogy, but it also ties in elements from The Lord of the Rings, such as featuring Sauron in the film’s subplot. Fans may object to this idea as the only thing that should connect the two stories, aside from characters, is Bilbo finding the ring. However in this case, we are dealing with a movie, so it is only natural that the prequel references its successor in some kind of way. Besides, the prelude for Lord of the Rings helps define Gandalf’s story. Aside from its prequel qualities, the story to An Unexpected Journey is enlightening and compels with its adventurous nature.
Along with the story is an ensemble full of newcomers and reprisals. Though Ian Holm is in the film, the role of Bilbo Baggins is taken up by Martin Freeman. Freeman does a fantastic job as Mr. Baggins by bringing charisma to the reluctant Hobbit. Another new face is Richard Armitage as Thorin Oakenshield who, despite playing a familiar kind of character, gives a three dimensional performance as the dwarf leader. To list off the other dwarves would take too long. To put it simply the company of dwarves were entertaining and each character stood out in their own; making for a great supporting cast
As usual, Ian McKellen does an outstanding job as Gandalf, but McKellan was just one of the reprisal from The Lord of the Rings cast. Some of cast returns are meant to be in the story; such as Hugo Weaving as Elrond and Andy Serkis as Gollum. However others had no real purpose of being there; such as Christopher Lee and Elijah Wood. If you can look past that fact then the likes of Cate Blantchett and Elijah Wood were great to see again as they help round out this fantasy ensemble.
Last and certainly not least is the technical element that brings us into Middle Earth. Thanks to the previous trilogy, fans and moviegoers should expect much from this element; and An Unexpected Journey is no exception. When going through this prequel, there is more cg used for the film oppose to the other adventures. This was done either because of the film's 3D or because it was just easier for the filmmakers; but whichever it was, the effects still worked for the film. The movie gives us stunning visuals. From the motion capture work to just the locations, there is always something to behold when New Zealand is transformed into this fantasy world. Despite that some things may be distracting, the technical aspects help create the magic for this Unexpected Journey, and it works.
You can spend all day comparing this film to The Lord of the Rings Trilogy, but The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey is still an enlightening adventure. Though it run time is long, I was never bored with the film as there were many things to enjoy. Peter Jackson once again delivered another compelling journey to Middle Earth as the tale of Bilbo Baggins gets a definitive start ; and with this chapter finished, we move onward to The Desolation of Smaug.