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By KATIE BROWN
After a 10 year hiatus, “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey” welcomes viewers back to the world created by author J. R. R Tolkien, where evil makes its way back into the light through the hands of an unsuspecting hobbit on an unexpected journey.
Peter Jackson, director of the worldwide phenomenon “The Lord of the Rings,” once again succeeds in bringing Middle Earth to life in the trilogy’s prequel, “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey.”
The film begins in a place very familiar to fans of the previous series. It opens on the same day the first “The Lord of the Rings” installment, “The Fellowship of the Ring,” began. “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey” shows an older version of Bilbo Baggins, played by Ian Holm, who also portrayed Bilbo in “The Lord of the Rings” trilogy, writing the story of his adventures in a book to pass down to his nephew, Frodo (Elijah Wood). As Frodo runs off, Bilbo begins to recollect the memories of his first adventure with a diverse group of dwarves and an eccentric wizard.
The film “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey” was told from a different perspective than that of the book authored by Tolkien. The novel recounted the story of Bilbo’s adventures from the eyes of the hobbit himself. The film was expanded to encompass all of the happenings of Middle Earth at the time, not just the plight of Bilbo and his company. In this regard, the film veers from the book. However, as a prequel to “The Lord of the Rings,” the larger scope of the film proves helpful for viewers trying grasp the entire picture of the growth of evil in Middle Earth.
The film still holds to its Tolkien roots, however. Tolkien filled his Middle Earth series with songs and poems performed by different characters. Many such songs were incorporated into the first installment of “The Hobbit” trilogy, providing a familiar comfort to Tolkien fans.
Howard Shore, who composed the award-winning soundtrack for “The Lord of the Rings” series, scores another winner in his composition for “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey.” The composer wrote a new melody based on one of Tolkien’s songs and wove it with “The Lord of the Rings” melodies to create a new score with just enough old to bring back the same feelings of hope and despair conjured by Shore in his
“The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey” also contained some unexpected humor. Fights among dwarves, witty remarks from Gandalf (Ian McKellen), idiotic comments from unintelligent trolls and usually frightened quips from Bilbo provide viewers with several laugh-out-loud moments – a nice addition not found in the film’s predecessors.
The commendable acting of Middle Earth newcomer Martin Freeman as Bilbo Baggins shows another draw to “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey.” His nervous anticipation and careful control occasionally broken by his want to prove himself worthy to be in the company of warriors seems to mirror Bilbo’s literary counterpart. Another newcomer, Richard Armitage as Thorin, the leader of the dwarves, agreeably personifies the war-hardened character who develops a soft spot for the bumbling Bilbo. Moreover, McKellen’s brilliant return as Gandalf is definitely a positive aspect to the film.
Although Tolkien originally wrote the novel for children, the film incorporates additional violent war scenes and intense situations, earning its PG-13 rating.
The storyline, music and acting helps “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey” successfully transport viewers on a riveting journey and has them expectantly awaiting the next installment, due in theaters December 2013.