It was a task so epic that it required not only vision and talent but also courage and passion. It required not only fantasy and myth but also humanity and soul. It required not only a fierce stamp of originality but also required a faithful adaptation of the source. It was a task both exceptionally daring and exceedingly foolish at the same time.
One man, Peter Jackson, was foolish enough to dare. And the world was gifted a masterpiece of art, stunning in size, spectacular in vision, sweeping in scale, grand in emotions and insurmountable in inheritance: The Lord of the Rings (LOTR) Trilogy.
Till now, that is. Nine years after the final part in the LOTR trilogy, The Return of the King, was released, Jackson has taken on a task even more foolish (what is with the man!): to, at the very least, live up to the indelible legacy he created himself, and at the very most, leave behind an even bigger one.
The good news is, The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, the original story of Bilbo Baggins and his adventures with a group of 13 dwarves through perilous mountains, frightening orcs and terrifying dragons that led to him finding the ring, lives up every bit to the majesty and magic of its celebrated predecessor. And the first part of three that form the prequel to LOTR sets in motion for fans of cinema an exciting adventure in itself – of witnessing greatness unfold on the silver screen again.
With the amount of poetry (also known as ‘difficult words’) I’ve used in just the first four paragraphs of this review, it wouldn’t be hard for you to fathom a guess that The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey has me deeply and completely in love, at first sight, with it. But let me be clear: it’s not the body that I’ve been lusting over, it’s the soul that got my heart skipping multiple beats.
Of course, I wouldn’t blame you for admiring the body itself; it is quite gorgeous, I have to admit. Peter “Epic” Jackson, has lovingly recreated those marvellous visuals we sighed over in LOTR, and painstakingly created many more striking ones we’ll long remember. The soaring music, cinematography just the way God intended it, and enduring charm only a cast so full of British talent could provide, keep you glued to your seats. And the action scenes? If I may be a bit primal, OMGTHEYAREAWESOME! And they will keep your testosterone flowing at least till Gangster Squad releases.
But look beyond the action, the SFX, the costumes, makeup, 3D and magic, and you find that just like Jackson’s LOTR trilogy, the real magic actually lies in those glorious little scenes that stay with you long after the dust has settled. The real Hobbit lies in the awkwardness of Bilbo (a career-defining turn by Martin Freeman) as he reluctantly tries to both help and fit in with the dwarves, it lies in the courage of Dwarf King Thorin (the ‘Aragorn’ of The Hobbit, Richard Armitage) as he impulsively takes on an enemy ten times as powerful; it lies in the testing search of the dwarves for their home, it lies in the climax where Bilbo finds his courage and it lies in that ten minute game of riddles between Gollum (the masterful Andy Serkis) and Bilbo that is everything cinema was intended to be.
So ignore the whining about the length and the criticism about its format and go watch the movie, because in the words of the wise Gandalf (Ian McKellan), the power of the real Hobbit lies, “not in great but in the small moments of kindness and love, that keep the darkness at bay.”