The hobbit: an unexpected journey

The first chapter of Peter Jackson"s prequel trilogy is a strong introduction lớn a main character who is all but abandoned by the subsequent films.

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It almost goes without saying that expanding The Hobbit into a trilogy was a mistake, and by all accounts the production was chaotic. Guillermo del Toro had developed the project for years before departing, & his exit put a time crunch on Peter Jackson lớn redesign the entire production shortly before filming began. Shooting without a completed script is generally not a good idea, particularly if it's one of the most expensive productions in history that also requires extensive visual effects work. To vày so while also deciding at the last minute to lớn make a two-part story into a trilogy is downright disastrous, and Jackson later admitted he was “winging it” most of the time.

It’s easy to danh mục the issues these films have: shooting in a high frame rate was a gamble that didn’t pay off, the overreliance on CGI made the creatures look cartoony, và despite the excessive runtime, few characters had any depth. However, the film's success was limited from the beginning, as the simplicity of J.R.R. Tolkien’s original novel doesn’t justify the same epic adventure of The Lord of the Rings. Certainly there are elements of the original novel that retroactively help foreshadow Jackson’s trilogy, including the first appearance of Gollum (Andy Serkis), & Gandalf’s (Ian McKellen) search for Sauron’s origins were included in Tolkien’s appendices. However, The Hobbit itself is a story about a mild-mannered homebody who gets caught up in a treasure hunt.

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It’s almost unfair to điện thoại tư vấn The Hobbit trilogy an adaptation of the 1937 novel, because in actuality it’s just a Lord of the Rings prequel that awkwardly foreshadows a more exciting adventure, undercutting its own story in the process. The dwarves’ quest to retake their homeland from Smaug has little stakes, because we know the infinitely greater threat of Sauron is just on the horizon. The second chapter The Desolation of Smaug is often cited as the trilogy’s high point because it comes the closest to capturing the tone of the Lord of the Rings trilogy, but it's a film where Bilbo (Martin Freeman) is basically a supporting character. Of the trilogy, only the first film An Unexpected Journey actually makes use of Bilbo’s quality perspective.

Image via Warner Bros.
Bilbo is not his nephew Frodo (Elijah Wood). He doesn’t leap at the sense of adventure, nor does he seek out new companions; even within the isolated world of The Shire, he’s relatively secluded from the other Hobbits. An Unexpected Journey plays up this “fish out of water” element as Bilbo is recruited for a quest he has no stake in, & Freeman perfectly captures Bilbo’s uncomfortability & awkwardness. The framing device of the elder Bilbo (Ian Holm) recounting his adventures to Frodo highlights the differences between the two. Compared lớn Frodo’s wide-eyed enthusiasm, Bilbo is reserved và even contemptuous at points, only opening up once he sees what life outside his narrow worldview actually looks like.

Replicating a similar structure to The Fellowship of the Rings actually benefits An Unexpected Journey because The Shire is integral khổng lồ both stories. Before going on their adventures, Frodo & Bilbo both need to be living in an environment of innocence where the most dramatic occurrence is a squabble between families over các buổi tiệc nhỏ invitations. An Unexpected Journey luxuriates in The Shire và takes its time exploring how the Dwarves disrupt Bilbo’s routine, establishing a naivete that will be weathered by his adventure.

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The similar structure also helps highlight the differences between the two Hobbits’ relationship with Gandalf. The bond that Lord of the Rings establishes through Gandalf’s return khổng lồ The Shire isn’t present here, and seeing the elder wizard playfully tease Bilbo by bringing the chaotic Dwarves is a fun way lớn get Bilbo out of his comfort zone. Gandalf the Grey is more mischievous than when he became the authoritative “The White” in The Two Towers. Freeman và McKellen have fun banter before they’re burdened by the responsibilities of the quest.

Although it was frequently criticized for the wackier comedic elements, An Unexpected Journey is a children’s story so it makes sense to have a lighter touch. Tolkien’s original novel was aimed at children & didn’t bear the same intensity that The Lord of the Rings did. There’s physical comedy from the Dwarves running rampant within Bilbo’s kitchen và toilet humor coming from goofy Trolls. The second two films took a more serious approach (the extended edition of The Battle of the Five Armies was even Rated-R for its graphic violence), but An Unexpected Journey retains its fairy tale-like quality. Jackson treats many of these creatures with playfulness: it makes sense for the Goblin King lớn be an eccentric first threat before the graver menace of Smaug is introduced.

Image via Warner Bros.
The strongest tie between The Hobbit & Lord of the Rings is the scene in which Bilbo receives the ring from Gollum (Andy Serkis), something Tolkien himself revised in later editions of the novel in order khổng lồ tie them closer together. While it has connotations for the fate of the One Ring, the scene in An Unexpected Journey helps highlight Bilbo’s character growth. The game of riddles with Gollum shows Bilbo’s inventiveness, & his aptitude for storytelling which Gandalf mocked early on saves him in a dire situation. Bilbo’s decision to lớn spare Gollum’s life reminds the viewer that despite his newfound resourcefulness, the adventure hasn’t changed his soft heart. In a fleeting look, Bilbo recognizes a mistreated soul within Gollum without knowing he was once a creature not dissimilar from a Hobbit; it's a brilliantly acted moment between Freeman & Serkis.

The weakest parts of An Unexpected Journey are those that stray from Bilbo’s perspective. The conflict between Thorin and the Orc chief Azog (Manu Bennett) was an underdeveloped storyline throughout the trilogy. The Dwarves’ desire to lớn return trang chủ is constantly undercut when the films divert & start introducing more Lord of the Rings characters, but the final conflict with the Orcs in An Unexpected Journey works because it shows Bilbo’s merit within the quest. Thorin’s ambition gets the better of him, and Bilbo’s willingness to lớn take on Azog shows just how much he’s grown since his diminutive introduction. It’s a great moment of development for both characters: Thorin is humbled & recants his harsh early words about the Hobbit, and Bilbo realizes he’s become invested in helping the Dwarves find a home as comforting as the Shire is lớn him. It functions perfectly as the middle point in a two-part adventure, as it was originally intended to be.

The Hobbit films are largely underwhelming, but there’s merit in all three. Desolation of Smaug features some jaw dropping spectacle & incredible motion capture work from Benedict Cumberbatch, và The Battle of the Five Armies is genuinely weird thanks to lớn grotesque creature feature elements reminiscent of Jackson’s early horror work like Bad Taste, Meet the Feebles, and Braindead. The two sequels are a collection of fun scenes and callbacks that never coalesce into a cohesive narrative, but An Unexpected Journey actually remembers who is telling the story. Ironically lost within his own trilogy, Bilbo’s individuality is only the focus of the opening chapter; a story that’s also referred lớn as There and Back Again at least gets the first half right.

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