The Hobbit An Unexpected Journey Review

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I promised you a review of The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, so here it is! If you followed my blog last week, you know I spent a few days training for the midnight showing at our local Sundance theater. I bought the tickets COMPLETELY by accident; my brain misplaced the p.m. with a.m. So, there was a fair bit of juggling (and caffeination) involved to ensure that I’d be awake to drive at 3:30 a.m.

The theatre was packed. The lines jammed. There were three or four showings and all were mostly full. I, along with my fellow moviegoers, were caffeinated and totally psyched for this film. Other than a few cues of inappropriate laughter during the previews, all of which were shushed by the more somber folks around them, we were set. And then? It starts. A familiar song. A comfortable character — the version of Bilbo we’ve seen in the Lord of the Rings trilogy. A familiar face. It’s Frodo as we remember him in the beginning.

Pay attention. This scene is important, for this reveals Jackson’s intent. The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey is a true movie prequel. The film (with all its 48 fps glory) comes first, before the book. The Hobbit is reference material, but this is NOT a tried and true mirror of what happened there. The reason why this is a trilogy, is because the story will deepen and darken as time goes on.

But it doesn’t begin that way. And for some, this is why it feels anti-climactic. The events take place 60 years before Fellowship. Sauron has not regained his power — he’s not even close yet. The Nazgul? Don’t exist in the same form. This movie is where it all begins — but it can’t start with the epic journey we know is coming. It has to start somewhere. The One Ring wasn’t found intentionally. It was a freak accident.

I feel that The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey emphasizes what Middle Earth was like before the shadows crept in and took over a corner of the world. This is more high fantasy, more adventure, more day-to-day/hack-and-slash, goblins and orcs and convoluted threats shaped around loss. The real story here isn’t about the One Ring, though that will likely emerge as the films continue, this is about the dwarves, led by Thorin Oakenshield.

I loved the story as it was presented here and feel that we’ll see more “reveals” in true prequel fashion as the trilogy progresses. This is still Middle Earth, and still the same setting responsible for the birth of other fantasy stories, games, etc. Tried and true? No, this is not a direct translation. But I’m okay with that. After all, what movie is? This is still Tolkien; and while it may be accurate (e.g. pulling material from other sources) it’s simply not precise.

I’m not sure I’ll do the midnight showing for the second film, but I’d prefer to see it on the larger screen. It’s a satisfying adventure on its own; I’m curious to see how Jackson will progress the One Ring story arc through the next two films on top of that.

    Mood: Orc Smash!
    Caffeinated Beverages Consumed: At the moment? None.
    Work-Out Minutes Logged Yesterday: SNOWPOCALYPSE SHOVELING
    In My Ears: Buffy. Yep, she’s singing.
    Game Last Played: Dragon Age: Awakenings
    Movie Last Viewed: The Hobbit
    Latest Artistic Project: Holiday gifts
    Latest Release: “The Button” We Are Dust anthology



Monica Valentinelli is a writer, editor, and game developer. Her portfolio includes stories, games, comics, essays, and pop culture books.

In addition to her own worlds, she has worked on a number of different properties including Firefly, Vampire: the Masquerade, Shadowrun, Hunter: the Vigil, Brandon Sanderson’s Mistborn, and Robert E. Howard’s Conan.

Looking for Monica’s books and games that are still in print? Visit Monica Valentinelli on Amazon’s Author Central or a bookstore and game store near you.

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