If you are wondering as to why I am writing this review three day’s after it’s Blu-ray/DVD launch release, my best answer would be that I actually wanted to watch The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey a couple of times as well as check out all the bonus features for the film to give director Peter Jackson’s latest return to J. R. R. Tolkien’s Middle Earth my full attention. When the original trilogy concluded with Return of the King in 2003, movie lovers across the world hailed it as one of the best trilogies of all time. Peter Jackson not only marvelously brought author J. R. R. Tolkien’s Lord Of The Rings characters and story to life, but he also cinematically brought the world of Middle Earth to our living rooms with gorgeous cinematography back drop locations with a masterpiece orchestra soundtrack.
Ten years have passed since that last film in the trilogy, and after watching The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, all I can say would be (to quote some Frodo’s last words from Return Of The King)… “It’s good to be home.”
After a fun tie in to the original trilogy, the film begins 60 years before the timeline of the 1999 The Fellowship of the Ring when we meet a young Bilbo Baggins (Martin Freeman) who is quite content living his life in the comfy Shire smoking his pipe weed and watching the sunset on his front porch bench…until fate steps in one morning and comes across a stranger named Gandalf The Grey (Ian McKellen) who not only changes the fate of this small hobbit,but quite possibly the fate of the entire Middle Earth decades down the road.I really want to point out that the Academy Award for Best Make Up was truly deserved here.Considering that actor Ian McKellen (Pencil in another fantastic performance as Gandalf) has aged several years since he last put on the wizard robe in Return of the King, truly looks as if he hasn’t aged one day. I really started to enjoy Martin Freeman‘s portrayal as a young Bilbo in the first half hour of the film during a hilarious scene when thirteen unexpected dwarf visitors begin to show up at his home with Gandalf and begin eating all of Bilbo‘s food. Easily one of my favorite scenes of the film.
Moving along that same night, Bilbo meets the Prince of Moria, Thorin Oakenshield (awesomely played I might add by Richard Armitage) who greets Bilbo with one of my favorite opening lines…”Tell me young hobbit…what is your weapon of choice…axe or sword“? Along with Gandalf and the rest of the dwarfs begin to invite Bilbo for a chance to go on an “adventure,” to return to the home of the Dwarves: Bombur, Dwalin, Kíli, Fíli, Nori, Dori, Ori, Glóin, Oin, Bifur, Bofur and Balin…The Lonely Mountain which has been taken by the deadly and rare fire-breathing dragon known as Smaug and retake their home. As always, I won’t spoil the plot details for those who have yet to see this film. What I can say however, is you are in for a fun ride of watching their journey through Middle Earth as they are hunted by the Dwarf King Slayer Azog, passage to Rivendell, surviving a very well done CGI battle between two stone giants in the Misty Mountians, an underground Goblin City within the mountain, and a very cool treat of actually seeing how Bilbo came into possession of the one ring to rule them all before the films final credits.
This is not a complaint, but I must say that this film’s villain and the stakes of the journey are not as scary or as suspenseful as the original trilogy. This is not a fault. This film could not have been any better than it already is. Only problem is after saving the entire land of Middle Earth and putting a stop once and for all to the Dark Lord Sauron in the original trilogy, this journey just doesn’t feel as climatic. That being said, this is a great film and truly one of the best blu-rays I’ve seen. Right up there with The Avengers, The Dark Knight, and Star Wars Revenge Of The Sith in terms of screen quality and sound. As for the special features…there’s a lot for the die-hard fans to get their “geek” on, but nothing we haven’t already come to expect in most Blu-rays. Lots of trailers, game trailers, and some interesting documentaries on the production, costumes, and location filming.
For simply allowing me to return to the magical land of Middle Earth and being a masterpiece of story telling, I give Peter Jackson’s The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey 4 out of 4 Cobra Chinese Stars!