The Hobbit review – An Unexpected Journey
I watched this movie with my 16 year old daughter, so I asked for her insightful impressions. What follows is a joint review.
Bilbo Baggins is a hobbit, a halfling – shorter than a man, but swift and stout. He prides himself in his well-ordered and comfortable life in the Shire, a bucolic paradise where absolutely nothing unexpected happens…ever. But buried deep within Bilbo’s psyche is a seed of greatness that will never germinate in the comfy confines of his homely hobbit hole.
What he needs is an adventure. Enter a wizard, 12 dwarves, and a quest to a far off land to battle a fire-breathing dragon. “That’ll do it.” The Bilbo Baggins that returns (if he returns) will not be the same hobbit that left on this unexpected journey.
As usual in these epic Peter Jackson films, the gorgeous scenery (shot mostly in New Zealand) and the staggering special effects combine to steal the show.
Character development, though present, is slight. Instead, the frenetic battle scenes are what propel the story. This is an action movie.
Since Tolkien’s The Hobbit records only a handful of such battles, the screenwriters mined the treasure trove of his other tales of Middle Earth – most notably the The Silmarillion – to provide a more engaging back story, and enough fodder to weave three movies out of this one book.
The Hobbit succeeds because it is about Bilbo. The dwarves are too numerous and mostly forgettable (unlike Dopey, Sleepy, Doc, Grumpy, and company). The primary antagonist – a big, bad, blue?! orc – lacks any gravitas. Bilbo (convincingly played by Martin Freeman) grows in character throughout the story. Yes, he is a nice enough chap when we first meet him; but by movie’s end, he is also the sort of chap you would want fighting beside you against all odds.
Bilbo also grows in his motivation for taking part in the journey. At first, he felt that he might be missing out if he did not go, but soon he is fully engaged with helping the dwarves recover their rightful home. His is a journey from being self-focused to others-focused.
Bilbo is an everyman, which is why the wizard Gandalf likes him so much. “Saruman [another wizard] believes that it is only great power that can hold evil in check. That is not what I’ve found. I found it is the small things, everyday deeds of ordinary folk, that keeps the darkness at bay. Simple acts of kindness and love. Why Bilbo Baggins? Perhaps it is because I’m afraid, and he gives me courage.”
For Tolkien fans, this movie features some momentous events. The discovery of the “one ring” and Bilbo’s amazing act of mercy reverberate through the the entire “Lord of the Rings” saga. “True courage is about knowing not when to take a life, but when to spare one.”
4 out of 5 unexpected adventures
WHY The Hobbit REVIEW?
My daughter suggested that we go see this movie with some of her friends late one night after their church youth group. Being a Tolkien fan, I eagerly assented.
(based on The Hobbit review)
(based on The Hobbit review)
On the shore of an underground lake, Bilbo comes face-to-face with a creature twisted, isolated, and deteriorated by his obsession and paranoia over a powerful ring. Well known to audiences from The Lord of the Rings trilogy, Gollum is a hobbit who became so enamored by the ring that he killed for it and used its power for personal gain—a power that transformed him internally and externally.
“We [Hobbits] are plain quiet folk and have no use for adventures,” Bilbo explains. “Nasty disturbing uncomfortable things! Make you late for dinner!” Yet something inside Bilbo is torn. He loves the safety, comfort, and familiarity of The Shire, but there is an internal conflict with his yearning for adventure. Eventually, he chooses adventure over security. He leaves his home for the unknown of the larger—scarier—world.
As in the Lord of the Rings films, Peter Jackson’s first Hobbit adaptation highlights strife and tensions between Tolkien’s fantasy races—especially dwarves and elves. It’s explained here that the dwarves’ grudge against the elves dates back to when the dwarves were in need and felt deserted by the elves. Understandably hurt and angered, the dwarves’ have not forgotten the treatment, and it has resulted in mistrust, prejudice, and hatred for the elves.
Have you ever read the entire Lord of the Rings saga (including The Silmarillion)?
(The Hobbit review followup question)