The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey Reviews

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September 21, 2018
Welcome back to Middle-earth!
Thanks, I hate it.
September 10, 2018
Unable to match the stellar Lord of the Rings movies, this return to Middle Earth can be boring at sometimes, but the performances by Martin Freeman, Ian McKellen, and Richard Armitage manage to save this movie.
September 2, 2018
Harry Potter is over, Disney gave up on Narnia, fans crucified the Percy Jackson movie for its differences from the source material in favour of a Harry Potter knockoff and the other attempts at fantasy like The Golden Compass and Eragon didn't work out. So for those who still enjoy fantasy-literature-based films, Peter Jackson created The Hobbit trilogy for those indifferent to the YA dystopia movies that began with The Hunger Games earlier in 2012. It may not be as great as the Lord of the Rings trilogy and those expecting a direct adaptation - which wasn't an LOTR prequel - will be disappointed big time. But what The Hobbit lacks in epicness, it makes up for with better visuals due to technological improvements over the last decade since Return of the King, great performances, gorgeous cinematography, amazing-looking sets and decent action sequences. One thing this movie does do better than the LOTR trilogy, in my opinion, is the protagonist. Although I don't hate the LOTR trilogy, one problem I had with the movie was that all Frodo did the entire trilogy was get his ass kicked and then saved. While he did have a legitimate excuse, I was a bit bummed out since I prefer more badassery in my protagonists. Bilbo goes through great lengths of character development and manages to actually contribute rather than just stand around waiting for his boyfriend to save him, whether he knows it or not. Aside from that though, The Hobbit doesn't measure up to what made the fantasy genre great again but An Unexpected Journey is far from bad.
August 15, 2018
August 8, 2018
I wanted to like this movie, I really did. the first half-hour was pretty decent, but it all went downhill from there. from hokey CGI to unnecessary plotlines (created purely out of the need to make three movies), this movie (and the ones that follow) is a hot mess. completely overloaded and self-important. i feel bad that Peter Jackson had to make this.
August 6, 2018
Eyecandy, but not quite like the original material.
August 4, 2018
great starting to hobbit
½ July 26, 2018
If adapting a world like Middle-Earth was tough in the first place, the task here was even tougher. Imagining a book with a quite different version of this world whilst balancing with what had already been committed to film, and still providing enough that feels new. The result is a triumphant success on all these levels. Charming through and through, it balances the light tone of the book with the more serious one of the Lord of the Rings books and films, in fact better than Tolkien did. Consequently, it deviates a lot from the source material, although mainly in terms of additions, rather than subtractions or alterations. The new material - concurrent and past events not recounted in the book and elaborations for visual and thematic purposes - only enhance the experience and the story of Bilbo and Middle-Earth. Casting is perfect as always with the series, and returning faces have no loss of impact for their familiarity. It's not always consistently engaging, and the pacing is a bit off, but for the first third of a book the film stands surprisingly well on its own.
½ July 9, 2018
While it is nowhere as brilliant the Lord of the Rings, it manages to stand on its own two feet with spectacular effects and graphics and a return to the Shire, this time, focusing on Bilbo's journey.
July 7, 2018
It's sad to see a favourite book destroyed with the Lord of the Rings treatment - there it worked for me, not here. Totally overblown. It's a shame Peter Jackson had to add lots of stuff to the story. The troll scene was totally destroyed. Peter Jackson has totally missed the tone of the book.
½ July 1, 2018
I am by no means a massive fan of the LOTR trilogy or its prequel books however this quite simply was a masterpiece. Beautiful settings, incredible special effects, charm, drama and the action was intense. The scene between Baggins and Gollum was hair raising stuff. Yes, it is too long, and much has been made out of a relatively short story however in this case i am grateful. We have been served a work of art here. Everything Bilbo Baggins encountered in this film the audience encountered too, I felt his fear and displacement. These massive set pieces throughout the film are each memorable in there own way to make an overall just epic experience.
½ June 18, 2018
The long-awaited prequel to the Lord of the Rings has finally arrived after numerous director changes and expansion into three more Peter Jackson films. The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey begins as we are familiar, in the Shire, specifically in the house of Bilbo Baggins. The style of filmmaking is familiar and equally as seductive as the original Lord trilogy. However, an inherently weaker story in The Hobbit naturally translates into a less interesting film. That isn't to say, however, that the film is bad. It certainly isn't. However, by the end of Fellowship of the Ring, I was endeared to Aragorn, Sam, etc. The cast of dwarves, which is prevalent in The Hobbit, just don't meet with the same appeal. By the third film, I may feel different. However, there were elongated components of this film that could have easily been trimmed, namely the first 45 minutes and some of the battle scenes. I also thought the interaction between Gollum and Bilbo was entirely too long, which leads me to believe that stretching this out to 3 films may be unnecessary. Again, I may feel differently by the end of this trilogy, as I recently watched all three extended Lord films in succession and feel like the trilogy was PERFECT. It's possible I will feel that way by the end of this one, but my gut is telling me I won't. I am looking forward to the next one, though, so that certainly says something.
May 16, 2018
Satisfying start to a new trilogy,good world building..nice characters.epic score
½ April 12, 2018
well-crafted prequel never reaches the heights of 'the lord of the rings' trilogy with a familiar script and regular-looking cgi. but although it's disappointing, the lightweight, episodic journey is still good fantasy and a modest adventure.
½ April 9, 2018
Breathtaking world, so beautiful and captivating that we don't mind the dragging.
April 9, 2018
Peter Jackson brought his well-tried-and-tested Lord of the Rings model to this tale at the beginning of the Hobbit series, and to good effect. The acting is generally strong, the computer-generated graphics set the standard, and New Zealand continues to take one's breath away. I had wondered whether dividing the Hobbit tale into three parts was truly necessary, but Tolkein's work bears the extended treatment. The screenplay suffers, however, from some hackneyed anachronisms, as, for example, when characters say, "Out of the frying pan and into the fire."
Daniel Mumby
Super Reviewer
March 25, 2018
The Lord of the Rings trilogy is such a milestone in fantasy filmmaking that any attempt to re-approach the Tolkien universe was bound to generate anxiety. As more stories about The Hobbit's production came to light, it seemed increasingly unlikely that the end result could ever come close to matching Peter Jackson's original trilogy. An Unexpected Journey is very much a flawed first part, but it is still enjoyable and balances out its flaws with enough nice touches to justify some of its running time.

In returning to Middle Earth, we have to deal with two diametrically opposed feelings. The first is nostalgia for The Lord of the Rings, films which shaped many of our childhoods and which still hold up as a near-perfect trilogy. The danger here is that we could over-praise The Hobbit simply because it feels so good to be back in this beautiful cinematic world; we feel so warmly towards Jackson that almost anything could be offered up and we wouldn't care how good it was in its own right.

The second danger, which flows from the film's production history, is cynicism. We resigned ourselves to Guillermo del Toro's departure on the grounds that Jackson was taking over and we were therefore in safe hands. We raised eyebrows at the 3D and 48 frames per second, doubting their necessity but giving Jackson the benefit of the doubt (neither turned out to be essential). But extending the films into a trilogy has been the straw that broke many a camel's back, and it is now very easy to regard Jackson as a mercenary who has completely lost his storytelling marbles. We might even conclude in light of this that we were all wrong about The Lord of the Rings too.

Both of these viewpoints are, of course, absurd when taken to their respective extremes. On the one hand, the filmmaking culture which produced An Unexpected Journey is very different to the one which took a chance on a seemingly un-filmable trilogy back in the late-1990s. If New Line Cinema was to go for The Hobbit at all, they would look to milk it as much as possible regardless of what Jackson or del Toro wanted. On the other hand, the source material is very different to Tolkien's later work, and so merely expecting more of the same is to deceive oneself.

Being that as it may, one of the big problems with An Unexpected Journey is its tonal uncertainty. Its attempts to recapture the epic scale and spirit of The Lord of the Rings are frequently at odds with the lighter, simpler story of The Hobbit. While Tolkien conceived of The Lord of the Rings as a mythical pre-history, with meaty subtexts about industry and warfare, The Hobbit is at its heart a children's adventure story, a trial run for something bigger and more ambitious.

Jackson's strategy of dealing with this is to consciously integrate the story of The Hobbit into the wider Tolkien continuity. The script adds in elements from The Lord of the Rings Appendices, directly hinting at or passing parallel to scenes that we recognise. We begin with Bilbo as an old man on the day of his birthday party - a scene which ends with Frodo walking down the hill, off to his first meeting with Gandalf in The Fellowship of the Ring. This isn't so much part one of The Hobbit as 'the first volume of the rest of the history of Middle Earth'.

Having familiar characters turning up is a double-edged sword. It gives an impression of the story being part of a seamless whole, something that a del Toro adaptation might not have achieved. And there is something charming about Sir Christopher Lee, Hugo Weaving and Cate Blanchett returning as the characters only they could play.

But there are two problems with this. The smaller problem is that we have older actors playing younger characters; while Galadriel looks the same, neither Elrond nor Saruman are entirely convincing, both looking older and/ or heavier than their later incarnations. The bigger problem is that the more these scenes and characters turn up, the more we respond in a manner which takes us out of the main narrative. We are either irritated by them as a distraction from the actual story of The Hobbit, or are left nostalgically longing for the relative meatiness of The Lord of the Rings in the face of something more childlike and playful.

Whichever way you look at it, An Unexpected Journey is too long and very baggy. Even without its status as the first part of a trilogy, there are whole sections in the first hour-and-a-half that could have been sped up, shortened or cut. There are several moments in which the film mirrors Fellowship, with the goblin fight being akin to the orc battle in Moria, the scaling of the mountain similar to the journey over Caradhras, and of course the similar scenes in Rivendell. But while Fellowship took a little while to reach Rivendell, everything that happened up to then felt weighty and significant, and you couldn't say the same for everything that happens in The Hobbit.

That being said, there is still much about An Unexpected Journey which needs to be celebrated. First and foremost, it is every bit as beautiful and spectacular as The Lord of the Rings, with the only real differences in quality lying in marginal improvements in visual effects. Jackson's eye for composition and the superb attention to detail puts paid to any arguments about the film being entirely an exercise in cashing in. Put bluntly, no cash-grab has ever looked this good.

On a performance level, the film also comes up trumps. Whatever the wavering fortunes of his counterparts, Ian McKellen does convince us that the Gandalf we are seeing is somewhat younger. Sylvester McCoy is typically eccentric as Radagast, and is so enjoyable that it almost doesn't matter that his scenes are largely irrelevant.

Most of all, Martin Freeman excels as Bilbo Baggins, even if the film doesn't centre around him as much as it could or should. In his first few scenes, it can feel like we have wandered back into his take on Arthur Dent, complete with stuttering British politeness and a dressing gown. But once the quest begins he starts to fire, taking the best from Ian Holm's performance and making the character his own.

The best scene in The Hobbit by a country mile is the confrontation between Bilbo and Gollum in the cave. This scene encapsulates the tone that Jackson was aiming for, the subtle improvements in effects and the on-going brilliance of Andy Serkis. It also demonstrates the terrifying tragedy of Gollum as a character, showing him to be capable of great violence but also utterly broken. Serkis described Gollum as an addict in interviews, and as the tense scene wears on we understand clearly what he meant. The way that Gollum changes from fearful to angry, and pathetic to vengeful so quickly breaks our hearts even as we are compelled to run away.

After this scene, The Hobbit plays its final trump card, namely its entertaining battle sequences. Having gone through a slow and plodding 90-odd minutes we are treated to battles with the same energy and invention that Jackson displayed throughout The Lord of the Rings. The monsters are more overtly cartoonish in their grotesque natures, with the goblin king being both gruesome and ridiculous. But whatever else has changed about him, Jackson still know how to construct a battle sequence, using sets and props wisely to create fights that both thrill you and make you laugh.

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey is a film which leaves you wanting more even though all its flaws are in plain sight. While it is far too long and tonally unsure of itself, it contains many of the aspects that made The Lord of the Rings so special, particularly in the visuals and performances. In short, this is a decent beginning, with much room for improvement and just as much to keep us entertained.
March 23, 2018
Not sure why this movie, and really the entire trilogy, gets such a bad rap. Sure, they aren't as good as LOTR but since when has not being as good as LOTR meant that a movie is terrible? Peter Jackson masterfully takes the material from the books and converts it into movie form with admittedly taking a few liberties and a little too much CGI on the way.
½ March 22, 2018
THE HOBBIT is a action film.All the characters have very good make up . The story is very original. And the actors are very good. The special effects are very very good.The film is about one hobitt (Bilbo) and 13 dwarves (Thorin, Fili ,Kili , Dori, Nori, Ori ,Bifur, Bofur, Bombur, Gloin, Oin, Balin and Dwalin) and a wizard (Gandalf).
My favourites characters are Balin and above all ,Gandalf.
There are three films :
-A Unexpected journey.
-The desolation of Smaug.
-The battle of five armies.
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