“The Hobbit” Movie Review

We walked out of the theater after seeing Les Miserables, ate our packed lunch in the car, and strolled over to Barnes & Noble to sing Jean Valjean’s praises over pumpkin spice lattes. Then we headed back to see The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey.

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I have been a Tolkien fan for exactly ten years this month. I was ten, about to be eleven, when I first picked up The Hobbit. Folks, this was my childhood–and therefore seeing The Hobbit was one of the biggest deja vu moments in my life!

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The Hobbit, the prequel of The Lord of the Rings (LOTR), is the story of Bilbo Baggins, a very respectable hobbit who finds himself swept up into an adventure he neither planned nor asked for. He is selected by the wizard Gandalf to join an expedition of Dwarves, who plan on reclaiming their home mountain from the dragon Smaug. Bilbo will go along as their “burglar,” or rather, their spy and also (rather conveniently) their cook.

Hobbits delight in their cozy homes, neat little gardens, and six plentiful meals. They are not adventurous–nay, they even despise adventures and anyone who actually enjoys them. Bilbo is a little different, though. He is a Baggins, but he is also half-Took on his mother’s side–and the Tooks have a flair for the exciting and dramatic. (See also: Pippin Took in LOTR.) Although he initially rejects the idea of joining Gandalf and the Dwarves, something drives him on in spite of the possibility he may never return to his beloved homeland, the Shire . . .

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I give The Hobbit five stars. There was no objectionable content, it was excellently made/casted/acted, the action/battle scenes were flawless (if a little prolonged), the music was amazing . . . in short, it was great. I would NOT recommend seeing it AT ALL, however, if you’re not familiar with LOTR. There are so many allusions/references to things in the last three movies that simply won’t make sense if you haven’t at least brushed up on your Tolkien knowledge. Let me explain in a rather round-about way.

Overall, I thought the film was faithful to the book insofar as the basic plot is concerned. The thing about it, though, is that director Peter Jackson is taking one book and making it into three movies. The first Hobbit movie takes up only the first four or five chapters of the book. Everything is more drawn out/elaborated upon, but Jackson has also pulled in elements of the bigger, broader story as it relates to Bilbo’s tale. This could prove confusing to people who aren’t familiar with Tolkien’s books or the previously-made films.

It’s also darker than the book, which reads more like a Narnia story than a LOTR epic. In my opinion, this made it feel much more like a LOTR movie, and therefore an excellent prequel. (In other words, it won’t suffer the fate of the Star Wars prequels, which, I’ve heard, do not mesh well with the Original Trilogy.) If you’re expecting it to be as light-hearted as the book, though, you’ll be disappointed.

These changes also meant that we had a chance to reunite with some characters who don’t feature in the book, but who (according to LOTR and the rest of Tolkien’s extensive material) were very busy in the affairs of Middle-Earth at the time of Bilbo’s adventures.

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Bilbo Baggins (played by the wonderful Martin Freeman) is absolutely positively CUTE–and I mean that in the best possible way, not as a silly airheaded fangirl who squeals and squeaks over who she thinks is “cute” when she really means “good-lookin’.” When I say “Bilbo Baggins is cute,” I’m thinking in terms of big sister looking at a precious toddler and crying, “Oh, he’s so cute!”

In spite of (or perhaps because of) his cuddliness, Martin Freeman is THE Hobbit. He puts Elijah Wood’s wimpy boring non-climactic portrayal of Frodo Baggins to shame. He’s set in his ways; he’s very good-natured, but can be cross when his house is turned topsy-turvy, when he’s hungry, or when he’s at his wit’s end. But he’s also very clever, loyal, and has a delightful sense of humor.

And his facial expressions are to die for.

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See?

Bilbo also feels like he has something to prove to Thorin Oakenshield, the heir of the Dwarven throne. I reckon I’d feel like I had something to prove to Thorin, too. He’s pretty formidable.

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Thorin is extremely haughty, extremely egotistic, extremely proud of his heritage, and extremely contemptuous of Bilbo’s honest attempts to be a good “burglar.” He is also played by Richard Armitage. Big points here in majestic awesomeness. Apparently Armitage is well-known as the dashing Mr. John Thornton in North and South, a BBC miniseries based on the book by Elizabeth Gaskell. WE, however, only know him as the Nazi assassin who bit down a cyanide pill after being caught by Steve Rogers in Captain America. But I digress.

Gandalf in The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey

GANDALF IS BACK!!!!!!!!! ‘Twas like reuniting with an old grandpa whom you haven’t seen in AGES. I almost jumped out of my seat with delight.

When I first saw him I thought Ian McKellen looked much older (ten years have passed since we last saw him, after all) but that impression quickly wore off as soon as he said, “I am Gandalf, and Gandalf means . . . me.” (*big happy sigh*) Oh Gandalf, Gandalf, how I love you. Everything always works out as long as you’re with all my favorite characters.

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GOLLUM IS BACK!!!!!!! Although I suppose we won’t see him in the next two movies (*sniff sob sniff*). The computer animation guys did a fantastic job of making him look younger in this film. We also got an excellent foreshadowing of the events to come: Bilbo finds Gollum’s “precioussssss,” AKA his Ring. Unbeknownst to both of them, of course, this Ring is far more important than either of them suspect–and Bilbo finds himself unable to kill Gollum when he has the chance. Some greater power is holding him back, for some great purpose . . .

Gollum was, of course, as funny as ever, even while still being a sinister creature. There were even a few moments where, I confess, I thought he was being pretty darn cute.

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My sister Carolyn thinks I’m weird.

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ELROND AND GALADRIEL ARE BACK!!!!!!! (*cue happy dance*) Are they real immortal Elves?! Neither of them seem to have aged a bit. And I was so very glad to see Elrond being friendly, even slightly humorous. He always seemed so glum in LOTR.

Galadriel was gorgeous as ever and even more ethereal, if that can be possible. It was during a conversation between the Elven-Queen and Gandalf that we heard the best line in the movie. Everyone is confused as to why Gandalf chose Bilbo to join the adventure, and Galadriel confronts him about it.

Galadriel: Why the [hobbit]?

Gandalf: I don’t know. Saruman believes it is only great power that can hold evil in check, but that is not what I have found. I’ve found it is the small everyday deeds of ordinary folk that keep the darkness at bay… small acts of kindness, and love. Why Bilbo Baggins? Perhaps it is because I am afraid… and he gives me courage. 

“The small everyday deeds of ordinary folk . . .” That is a rather encouraging truth, is it not?

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I want to comment on one more character before I end this review. This is Radagast, a “wizard” similar to Gandalf. He doesn’t make an appearance in the book, but he’s one of those characters brought in to expand the story and tie in LOTR.

Radagast lives in the Mirkwood forest, and the first time we see him, he’s distraught. His beautiful woodland is being poisoned, and he has no idea what’s causing the deaths of trees and even his pet animals . . . until he realizes: witchcraft.

J.R.R. Tolkien took great pains to distinguish between black magic and what he called “the arts” of Gandalf and the Elves. Whereas Gandalf, Radagast, or Galadriel are given inherent powers from God (“Iluvatar”)–and indeed, Gandalf and Radagast are supposed to be angelic beings–the villains use sorcery, “dark magic.” Radagast realizes it is an encroaching sorcerer who’s poisoning his home–the first hints of the growing power of an enemy known in The Hobbit as “The Necromancer.” There is a scene in which Radagast uses his divine, angelic power to drive out the evil presence, at least for a time, before he warns Gandalf about what’s happening.

I will offer SPOILERS, only because I know it’ll help people make sense of it all. The Necromancer and the Dark Lord Sauron are one and the same. What you’re seeing in The Hobbit is Sauron’s satanic power creeping over Middle-Earth, building up his strength for the climactic battle in The Return of the King.

Oh, and the Necromancer, that shadowy figure you saw in that one wee scene? He was played by Benedict Cumberbatch, who ALSO voices the dragon Smaug in the next movie. Y’know, Benedict Cumberbatch: William Pitt in Amazing Grace, Sherlock Holmes in the BBC show? Yeah, him. Which means Benedict Cumberbatch (Sherlock Holmes) and Martin Freeman (John Watson in the same show) will be playing Smaug and Bilbo.

There. Now stew on that for a little while 😉

All in all, it was a great movie and left me in immense disappointment that we won’t get another movie until December. I can’t wait to see Part 2, The Desolation of Smaug.

And you know, Peter Jackson is really mean to end it the way he did. The last thing you see is the Dwarves’ captured gold–piles and piles of it–and then it suddenly shifts–shakes–and you hear a low, menacing growl. The growl of the Dragon.

And then the camera zooms in to a mass of scales, and you see THIS:

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And I suppose ’twas on purpose, Mr. Peter Jackson, that you made that eye look JUST like the Eye of Sauron?! You are cruel, CRUEL, to delay until Christmas!!!

But I like you very much. You have made four excellent films and, in my opinion, you are very faithful to dear Mr. Tolkien’s vision. And I am sure The Desolation of Smaug will be another well-deserved blockbuster 😉

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16 thoughts on ““The Hobbit” Movie Review

  1. I LOVE your review! The Hobbit was my favorite of the LOTR books, and I loved the portrayal in movie form! It thrills me that you knew about the connection between BBC’s Sherlock and The Hobbit. I cannot wait for Bilbo vs. Smaug in the next movie… the irony!
    Although I have not read the book, my Mom and I are in love with the movie adaptation of Elizabeth Gaskell’s “North and South!” It’s a great one. (Along with Cranford, of course. 🙂 ) It’s (North and South) available on Netflix, if I’m not mistaken…

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    1. Hello! And thank you so much for your comment! I was so thrilled to get it…and I just checked out your blog as well…and realized you follow me on Pinterest!!! Okay, I’ll have to go back and see if I’m already following you or not, and if not, remedy that right away! I just love connecting with other like-minded girls 😀 😀 😀

      I haven’t seen “Sherlock,” but so many of my friends love it. I’ll be laughing right along with them at Bilbo vs. Smaug! And I want to see “North and South” so so SO much. It definitely looks like my kind of show.

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  2. Bravo, Maribeth! I agreed with everything you said. I LOVED the collage of Martin Freeman’s expressions! I have seen him as Watson in “Sherlock”, and he is an absolutely fantastic, incredible actor in that one, as well. (I don’t really care for the series, but I absolutely LOVE Cumberbatch and Freeman… And I love Cumberbatch as William Pitt in Amazing Grace!!) After “The Hobbit”, Freeman has risen to the top in the list of my favorite actors, second only to Robert Downey Jr.. He captured the real “hobbitness” of the hobbit more than any other hobbit in LOTR, in my opinion. (Not saying the other hobbits aren’t good! You know how much I adore Lord of the Rings!!) And I totally agree with you about Gollum being almost cute! 😀 I loved the way he practically giggles in delight when Bilbo guesses his riddle. “Oh, let’s have another one, eh?” 😀

    In short, I loved it so much that I went to go see The Hobbit three times in three weeks. I’m still absolutely in awe and shock at how amazingly perfect Peter Jackson and all the actors got the story that I’ve loved since I was a little girl! And by the way, the soundtrack is to die for. I got it for Christmas and have listened to it almost every day since! Great job summing up the movie, Maribeth! Capturing that much awesomeness in one post is no easy task. 😉

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    1. Three times in three weeks–goodness gracious!!! 😉 It was certainly a wonderful film. My sis Emily is now reading the book aloud to us in the afternoons…and it’s just delightful! It’s so funny to watch Mom and the little ones, who have never read it; even Ben (who is eight now) is thoroughly enjoying it, and listening intently. I think we’re all hoping Emily with go on to read LOTR to us. ‘Twould be no small feat but I think she’s up to it 😉

      I’ll also have you know that reading a Sherlock Holmes book is one of my little goals for 2013. TJ frequents the library occasionally, now that he has a car, so next time he goes I think I’ll ask him to pick up a book for me. I hear far too many good things about Mr. Holmes to ignore him any longer! 😀

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      1. That’s so much fun that Emily is reading the book to you aloud! My Dad did it recently, too. Oh, that would be awesome if she continues with LOTR. Like you said, it wouldn’t be easy, but I’m sure she could do it! 😀 Reading aloud is one of the most fun things to do as a family!

        Yay! I’m so excited that you’re going to read some of the Sherlock books! Holmes is one of my favorite characters in all of literature (second only to Dym!). I started with The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes, and went on from there. It would probably be more logical, though, to start with The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, because that one comes first. 😉 (Just as a side note, I did not enjoy The Sign of the Four, The Casebook of Sherlock Holmes, or The Valley of Fear. I wouldn’t recommend you starting with those or you might get turned off. The other books are AWESOME, though! ) Have fun with The Hobbit and Mr. Holmes! Sounds like you’re starting this year out on the right foot. 🙂

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  3. Fabulous review! I have never actually read The Hobbit. I started reading it and never finished, (one of my many bad habits, when it comes to reading books) but that will be one of the many books I read this year. Actually, I need to read it before I see the film.

    I didn’t even notice that the Nazi assassin in Captain America was Richard Armitage! I’ve also seen him in another film, but I can’t remember which film that was.

    I can’t wait to see Galadriel in this film, she’s my favorite! Elrond is great too! I just love the Elves!

    Thanks for the post! It was great!

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    1. You’re welcome!! The Hobbit is such a delightful book…far more light-hearted than the LOTR books…like I commented earlier, my sister is reading it aloud to us and we are having an AWESOME time with it! I didn’t realize the Nazi assassin was Richard Armitage, either, until Em pointed it out to me. The Elves were wonderful in the movie…you got a really good, detailed glimpse of Rivendell this time, and found out that they’re vegetarian! The Dwarves turned their noses up at “green food” at one point. ‘Twas so funny!

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      1. I love it when someone read aloud like that. My sister would do that when we were little, I think I’ll make her do it sometime. LOL It’s great to hear that you all are having such an awesome time! Hey, the Elves are vegetarian, like me!! Maybe that’s the reason I love them so much! Haha

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  4. Loved the review!

    I’m not a huge LOTR geek (that’s my brother), but I enjoyed The Hobbit *immensely*. I think for me it helped that I didn’t read the book before, because then I wasn’t comparing everything like my brother was, and I was able to enjoy the film having no idea what was supposed to happen next.

    I went into it wanting to see Martin Freeman and Richard Armitage, and ended up loving it in its own right. It’s definitely my favorite of the series so far a) because there’s hardly any Frodo – yaayyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!, b) I enjoyed everyone in thier roles, c)there’s hardly any Frodo c) I enjoyed the pacing of this film d) Gollum, e) hardly any…well, you get the idea. 😀

    Seeing as Frodo (blech, ugh, please-fall-into-the-fire-yourself-and-rid-us-of-you-thank-you) was a major turn-off for the trilogy (although Aragorn made up for it ;)), I enjoyed this one so much more. Plus as you know I’m a huge Sherlock fan and that added all kinds of love (although I was rather displeased that we never got to hear Benedict Cumberbatch *speak* minus the Necromancer roaring bit…how many years do we have to wait for that?!) – cannot WAIT for Bilbo vs. Smaug!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! But Martin was ADORABLE. I’ve converted my siblings to Sherlock since seeing the Hobbit and my sister has become a huge Martin/Watson fan, so now she’s like, I HAVE TO SEE WATSON AGAIN! 😉 Anyway, he was amazing.

    And Gollum was all kinds of adorable. LOVED him sooo much in the trilogy…one of the things that got me through it 😉 and loved seeing him again! Definitely LOL’d on his scenes…and got this horrible feeling when poor Bilbo picked up the ring!

    And Maribeth. You. Have. To. See. North. And. South. REALLY. It’s just….WRONG…that you haven’t yet. Get thee wherever you have to go to see it. PRONTO. Really, absolutely MUST see it. Anyway. LOVED LOVED LOVED Richard Armitage here…absolutely brilliant Thorin. Sigh…

    So yes. This was the first LOTR film I actually *loved* and will willingly see again many times…and pooooooooor Gandalf IS getting old (although I shall always, always think of him as Chauvelin, as my beloved TSP82 was my first exposure to Ian McKellan ;)) but I enjoyed it very much and can’t wait to see the next film! A WHOLE YEAR! That was another bummer…we saw the LOTR trilogy back-to-back when a friend let us borrow their DVDs…so there was this sense of GAH, we can’t just pop the next DVD in!!! Sadness. 😉

    And WHAT is it about Starbucks right by theatres? Because my friend and I went to Starbucks after seeing Les Mis, too. 😀

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    1. Oh my goodness, loved your comment so much! Giggled right through the whole thing 😉 I’m able to relate to your feeling of not knowing what happens next, because I actually hadn’t read it in a long time so I’d forgotten various events (or sequences of events). Now that my sister is reading it aloud to us I’m getting my memory sharpened for the next two movies.

      I know I KNOW I need to see “North and South”!!!! I watched a scene on Pinterest the other day…a very Lizzy/Darcy-esque proposal scene! Hmm, what I saw led me to believe *that* proposal didn’t any better than Darcy’s first attempt…but Mr. Thornton is pretty awesome, and I know he and Margaret (that’s her name, right?) get together–BUT HOW?! Alas–but I shall either 1) get the book or 2) ask for the DVD for my birthday 😀

      Okay, my first exposure to Ian McKellen WAS Gandalf, but you can imagine my reaction when I found out he played CHAUVELIN, of all people! ‘Twas like seeing Gregory Peck play Captain Ahab after you’ve loved him as Atticus Finch for as long as you can remember–it was simply wrong for him to play a villain 😉 As far as Frodo is concerned…in his defense he’s a much better character in the book, so he could’ve been very much improved upon in the movie. But as you said, Aragorn made up for it, haha!! I confess, when I was younger I had a rather (*ahem*) embarrassing affection for the King of Gondor. Thankfully I’ve moved beyond that, though I’m not ashamed to say that I still consider him one of the greatest, noblest heroes ever written or portrayed on film 🙂

      I’m so looking forward to “The Desolation of Smaug” and “Here and Back Again.” I’m interested to see how they’re going to bring it all together, I can’t wait to hear Sherlock/Watson/Smaug/Bilbo have their little “discussion,” and I’m eager to see more LOTR references. Aaaaaaaand it’s a great excuse to go to Starbucks, LOL…and next time I’m trying what my brother got: eggnog latte! Yummmmm 😉

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  5. Hi,

    I found your review of The Hobbit really interesting to read. I had the opposite reaction to it than you did. I did not like it at all and won’t be seeing the upcoming sequels. I read The Hobbit book for the first time several months before the movie came out in December. I enjoyed the book and would probably read it again. I just purchased the audio version of it but have not listened to it yet.

    I thought that the movie was scary and not appropriate for children at all. The battles scenes were too long and filled with over the top violence. I also think that three movies is too many. The book is a fast read so I was wondering how Peter Jackson was able to get three movies out of it. Two movies would have been perfect but I know that making money is a big part of making The Hobbit a trilogy.

    I loved Martin Freeman as Bilbo Bagins and Richard Armitage as Thorin. It was perfect casting for those roles. I loved the Misty Mountain song and the special effects are fabulous. It is just that overall I did not care for the movie. To me it seemed more of a testament to high technology than being true to Tolkien’s book. I can understand why the Tolkien estate is not thrilled with Peter Jackson. I do give PJ much applause and respect for his talents as a filmmaker though. From that perspective the movie is great, but to me from the standpoint of the book it was way over the top and turned into an adult only film.

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  6. Fellow Christian Conservative, Anglophile, and Tolkien fan…I’m so glad your grandmother told me about your blog!!

    I was one of those LOTR geeks who read all the appendices and The Silmarillion, so I very much enjoyed all the extra information Peter Jackson wove into The Hobbit. Also, Martin Freeman has become one of my most favorite actors ever. They could not have chosen a better Bilbo!

    After reading this review, I’m going to rewatch the movie so I can enjoy everything alllll over again.

    And I just read your warning. “Greedo treatment”–LOL!!

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    1. Okay, that’s settled…fellow Christian Conservative, Anglophile, and Tolkien Fan, you and I need to start firin’ up the emails! LOL!

      Oh my goodness, I read all the appendices and the Silmarillion, too…I even studied Elvish for a little while (*blush*). I was a little maniacal about it. Now that I’m older, I simply love LOTR for all the beautiful lessons. It has even encouraged me in my Christian walk in some respects. I love Martin Freeman, too. I haven’t even seen “Sherlock” but I’m going to be giggling so hard when Benedict–uh, I mean, Smaug–and Bilbo start the riddles.

      “Greedo treatment,” hehehe…I came up with that after someone started trolling me back in the days when this blog was confined mostly to politics. I haven’t had too many trolls since but I figure it’s a good idea to give folks fair warning 😉

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  7. Okay I stumbled across your blog when googling about Doctor Who worldview since my friend and I have to write a paper on a TV show/movie’s worldview, and we were thinking about doing DW 🙂 And now I’m going to explore all over your blog! So you haven’t seen North and South??? It’s sooo good! Richard is amazing in it! I also love him as Guy of Gisbourne in BBC’s Robin Hood 🙂
    I love your blog!
    -mal 🙂

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    1. Haha! What an awesome way to stumble across a blog! I hope my article was helpful in some way. Doctor Who still makes me laugh.

      Actually, I HAVE seen North & South now…I hadn’t when I first wrote this, but my sister got it for her birthday and we enjoyed it. Richard Armitage is a great actor! I haven’t technically seen him as Guy of Gisborne, but I did see pictures of him in that role and cast him as a supporting character in my novel 😀

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