I’ve probably mentioned this before, but I’m not a J.R.R. Tolkien fan. I did attempt to read The Hobbit once, and I remember it being fairly short, which was why I was surprised to see they had split it into not two but THREE movies, presumably so they could milk more money from Lord of the Rings fans. For those of you who have not seen/read Lord of the Rings, here is the plot of The Hobbit:
A homebody reluctantly agrees to go on a quest to help a group of dwarves take their mountain home back from a greedy dragon.
It seems like a good plot for a fantasy adventure movie, but if you’re hoping for payoff you’re out of luck. They’ve stretched the story out so much that they barely get close enough to even see the mountain by the end of this movie. So what does happen in The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey? Not a whole hell of a lot.
The movie begins with a completely unnecessary framing device in which old Bilbo Baggins (Ian Holm) sits down to write his memoirs while his nephew Frodo (Elijah Wood) putters about the house talking about party invitations. This is nothing but a bone for the fans, who will recognize Frodo as the hero in the Lord of the Rings.
BILBO: Yes indeed, my boy! Someday you will have an adventure!
ME: But not today, so let’s move it right along.
Eventually they get around to actually showing what Bilbo is writing about: an adventure he had when he was young Bilbo Baggins and he looked like Martin Freeman. Young Bilbo is visited by Gandalf (Ian McKellen) and recruited against his will to be the fourteenth member of a dwarf raiding party whose mission is to sneak in the back door of their former mountain home and kick out the dragon Smaug, whom they hope is gone or asleep or something, since they haven’t heard from it in a while.
Yes, I see here in its letters it mentions something about going to a
dragon convention in someplace called Pern?
There are thirteen dwarves in the party (which, for a movie, is way too many). All of them are effectively interchangeable except for Thorin (Richard Armitage, who is about 90% boot in this role). Thorin is the prince/king of the displaced dwarves and is determined to get their home back. The rest of the dwarves have cutesy names that go in rhyming sets like Santa’s reindeer and are impossible to remember unless you’re a Tolkien nerd.
So there’s Thorin, Borin, Florin, Sporran, Snorin’, Whorin’….
Bilbo doesn’t want to go on an adventure and spends quite a lot of time (read: way too much time) protesting against his recruitment, until all of a sudden he wants to go and we can finally get this show on the road so to speak. For the rest of the movie, they’re traveling from Bilbo’s home in the Shire to the Lonely Mountain, and it looks like a tourism commercial for New Zealand.
Attention nerds! We have mountains!
To keep things from getting too boring, their journey is constantly interrupted by things attacking them. Trolls, giant transformers made out of rock, goblins, and even elves, briefly. They’ll fight for a while to pad the running time (which is not necessary… the movie is like three hours long), and then Gandalf will show up to conveniently rescue them with magic (I guess he was in the bathroom or something).
GANDALF: Jesus Christ, can’t I nip off for a pee without you lot being set upon by monsters?
THORIN: If you can call giant convenient eagles, why the hell are we WALKING to the mountain?
There are also a few plot threads woven in that go nowhere. Thorin’s pissed off at the elves for not helping him out when a dragon stole his homeland. A giant white orc who cut off his grandfather’s head in a battle one time is coming back for Thorin’s head. Galdalf is trying to convince Saruman (Christopher Lee) that they should get involved with the necromancer who’s killing mushrooms and hedgehogs in the forest where his buddy Radagast (Sylvester McCoy) lives. And Bilbo stumbles onto Gollum (Andy Serkis) and steals a magic ring that makes him turn invisible.
Should we steals the movie from the hobbitses, precious?
Despite the fact that it’s about all adult characters, The Hobbit was originally written for children. Peter Jackson tries to portray things seriously so that the movies appeal to the adult Lord of the Rings crowd, giving Thorin a tragic backstory and the thousand yard stare of a warrior with post traumatic stress disorder, but then something silly comes along, like Radagast riding through the forest on a Santa sled pulled by mutant rabbits, and suddenly Middle Earth feels an awful lot like Narnia.
RADAGAST: *pouts* you don’t like my rabbits?
ME: You have bird poop in your hair.
Another thing you might notice, especially if you’re female, is that there are approximately zero girls in this movie. Even in the background. The only vajayjay in the entire thing belongs to Galadriel (Cate Blanchett), who doesn’t even really need to be there because all she does is look pretty and stare into space like her brain accidentally went shopping without her.
GANDALF: Blah blah necromancer blah….
GALADRIEL: One second. I’m having a petit mal seizure.
So what did I think of The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey? Well, it’s nice to look at. There are some semi-interesting tie-backs to The Lord of the Rings. Richard Armitage is still hot (presumably, somewhere under all that hair) and Martin Freeman is still cute. But there are also a lot of convenient saves, it’s annoyingly lacking in women, and there are quite a few parts that are kind of boring. So I would say go if you’re a fan or special effects nerd, but for non-fans and people who like tight writing it will be a letdown.