The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey - review

The Hobbit
The Hobbit

Having recently read Tolkien’s The Hobbit to my son, I was interested to find out how director Peter Jackson would conjure up some of those magical literary images for the big screen.

Jackson, who rocked the cinema world with The Lord of the Rings trilogy, was essentially tasked with coming up with something just as special using the story’s less celebrated precursor.

No easy feat, and I for one was expecting something a bit less “epic” with The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey.

Written in 1937, The Hobbit tells the tale of homely hobbit Bilbo Baggins, who is whisked away into a world of goblins, orcs, trolls, giant spiders and treasure by a band of dwarves and a wizard.

The dragon Smaug is basking in the Dwarves’ stolen treasure within The Lonely Mountain, and Gandalf considers Bilbo the perfect “burglar” to help the dwarves retrieve it.

Every generation has grown up with the story, a children’s classic across the world, with many locally feeling a certain amount of ownership given Tolkien’s connection with Lancashire.

We went to see the film in 3D at The Vue in Lancaster, at a cost of about £9.50 a ticket.

The 3D aspect caused a slight headache at times, but was well worth it on the whole.

With a 12A rating, this ruled out us taking our son, so we had to keep the expedition quiet, which was a shame.

The rating was appropriate though, with plenty of beheadings, slayings, dastardly actions, evil monsters and a fair amount of grit.

Unlike The Lord of the Rings, The Hobbit was co-written by producer and director Guillermo Del Toro (Pan’s Labyrinth, The Orphanage, Hellboy), who was originally chosen to direct the films.

The result? Epic. The film surpassed everything I expected. What the book alluded to or mentioned at times was whipped up into new and amazing scenes, and the humour of the original was spot on as well.

Characters are strong and plentiful, Gandalf’s fellow wizard Radagast (and his “rabbit huskies”) being an hilarious addition, and British actor Martin Freeman took on Bilbo very well indeed.

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey is the best film I’ve seen in quite a while, if not ever (it’ll need to weather a bit first) and this short review can in no way do justice to what is a beautifully made, richly painted visual treat that stays with the viewer and re-enters the mind for weeks after.

All I can say is go and see it.

The second part of this trilogy, The Desolation of Smaug is out later this year, and the third, There and Back Again, in 2014.

Nick Lakin