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

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey Reviews

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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.
½ March 19, 2018
So here we are, back in Middle-Earth. With a brand new tale, adventure and journey. But this time, I'm a little disappointed. With a slow pace, discombobulated story and hardly any correlation to the books, Peter Jackson ruins everything J.R.R. Tolkien's great book stood for. But yet, great acting and visuals still make this adaptation pretty good. But like most sequel/prequels this one doesn't live up to any of its predecessors.
March 14, 2018
The Hobbit An Unexpected Journey brings you back to the majestic Middle Earth! A really entertaining fantasy adventure!
½ March 10, 2018
I went to this movie with very low expectations, for one, I believe the original LOTR triology, was real a let down. I'll never understand the lovefest with those films, yeah they were nothing more than decent movies at best. Also, this movie seemed to be getting seriously mixed reviews. Critics saying the movie was way too long, bloated, and a total waste of time. That's some serious criticism, I even heard a very respectable reviewer, called The Hobbit a utter piece of shit. Those were his exact words, so I was very doubtful I was even going to enjoy this. But I decided to go with my gut feeling and ignore the naysayers, I'm so glad I did.

This is easily the best film Jackson's done since the 90's, I totally enjoyed this film, from beginning to end. The Hobbit brought me back to my childhood, yes, I grew up on the book and cartoon. So I was hoping this film would live up to my standards I had set, well Mr.Jackson, you have my seal of approval. And to think I almost totally wrote you off and thought you were never return to your glory days, of making good movies.

I honestly think this film succeeds where the other LOTR films failed. Granted, The Hobbit is more of a children fantasy book than LOTR, Though Jackson added more violence to film, than what was ever in the book. Which worked and I had no problem with it. The Hobbit is also more lighthearted and homurous than LOTR, which makes more fun. The special effects here, are very very good. I felt really immersed into the realm of Middle-Earth, the acting here is also great.

Everyone that return from the original movies, seemed so pleased to be back for these new films. I originally questioned why Jackson would make The Hobbit into a triology, since the book is shorter than any of LOTR books. The Hobbit is like a 300 page book, where the other books are 1,000 pages a piece. I really don't mind doing a triology after seeing this, though one film would have been fine with me.

I say ignore the critics here, the fans know what their talking about. The Hobbit is one my favorites of the year, so glad to finally see Jackson's making quality films again, even if he's not getting the prasie he deserves for it. The Hobbit comes highly recommended and I can't wait for the next two installments! could a prequel triology honestly be better than the original? I might the only person right now, saying yes it can! And so far, so good!
March 5, 2018
Although the movie runs through a snail pace and the beginning is really boring and uninspiring, the movie still has the fantasy film magic and great characters to keep you wholly enjoyed.
February 28, 2018
I liked this movie, it was slower paced the LOTR but it allowed for more story telling and more time to build up to events instead of constant running from scene to scene. Well worth the watch
February 24, 2018
It was good enough to watch.
½ February 18, 2018
Visually stunning and narratively satisfying. The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey throws you right back in the universe of J.R.R. Tolkien.
½ February 16, 2018
while it isn't as special as TLOTR. The Hobbit still manages to provide deep and interesting life to The Middle-Earth's hoping for a SOM Movie...
½ February 14, 2018
This movie sucked! Nothing like the first 3. Couldn't wait for it to be over!
½ February 8, 2018
A visually spectacular movie, with great performances, but with some pacing problems
February 4, 2018
An Unexpected Journey is a worthy entry in the Middle-earth saga. Even though it takes a while to get the adventure started the lengthy build-up is necessary if you don't know this timeless tale. Of the trilogy this one is the most beautifully shot. The colors are vibrant and the locations are breathtaking. Also, Martin Freeman absolutely nails it as Bilbo. He should've gotten a Best Actor nomination.
January 29, 2018
great start to the franchise they nailed it better than lotr
January 25, 2018
Beatiful and loyal movie!
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