The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey
Hobbits are not adventurers. They prefer gardening. So when 13 dwarves and a wizard show up uninvited for tea at Bilbo Baggins' home, the hobbit is overwhelmed.
The dwarves plan to fight a dragon who took over their homeland. The journey to Lonely Mountain will require courage, expert swordsmanship . . . and a burglar, someone small and quiet who can sneak into the dragon’s lair. The perfect role for a hobbit, if they ever went on adventures.
At first, Bilbo refuses. But deep in his heart, he longs to see strange lands and do things he’s never done before. In a moment of true bravery, for a hobbit, he runs off to join the quest.
In this first of three films, we travel from the comfort of hobbit holes into troll-infested forests, goblin caves and “back” to Rivendell, home of the elves. We also come across a precious ring . . . and its obsessed owner.
The Hobbit exists squarely in a fantasy world—one of “good” and evil magic. Gandalf the wizard transforms pinecones into explosives and battles goblins with his magical staff. Radagast, another wizard, talks to animals. At one point, he brings a hedgehog back to life. An evil sorcerer called the Necromancer rules dead spirits.
Fans of the book might be surprised by the amount of violence in this film. Writer/director Peter Jackson includes two massive battles—Smaug’s attack on a nearby town and a fight between orcs and dwarves. Explosions topple towers, swords and arrows flash across the screen and limbs and heads are chopped off (in a mostly bloodless fashion). At other points, stone giants fling boulders, trolls attempt to roast and eat the dwarves and Gollum kills a goblin for his supper.
The dwarves (and hobbits) love ale and feasting. Meanwhile, the wizards smoke pipes and blow smoke rings. Saruman says that Radagast's love of mushrooms has made him crazy.
Tolkien’s original book, The Hobbit, is considered a children’s story, compared with the intense battles and complicated themes of The Lord of the Rings. But Jackson seems more interested in connecting this story to his successful movie trilogy. The film is indisputably PG-13, due to the intense violence and use of magic.
Purists of the book may frown at some of Jackson’s tinkering, but casual fantasy fans will probably enjoy this inspiring tale of heroism, loyalty and sacrifice . . . and will eagerly await the next chapter.
Technical note: Peter Jackson decided to shoot The Hobbit films at 48 frames per second (twice as many images per second as most movies). Some critics complained that shooting in extreme high-definition hurts the story because you notice the wrong details, such as the actors’ makeup. However, the story itself is so interesting that, whether you think the new technology is amazing or annoying, you’ll probably forget all about frame rates by the time Bilbo and the dwarves leave the Shire.
Copyright © 2012 by Focus on the Family. Used by permission. Clubhousemagazine.com