[Review] The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey (Peter Jackson, 2012)

Original title: The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey

Director: Peter Jackson
Actors: Andy Serkis , Cate Blanchett , Christopher Lee , Elijah Wood , Hugo Weaving , Ian Holm , Ian McKellen , James Nesbitt , Ken Stott , Martin Freeman , Richard Armitage
Genre: Adventure , Fantasy
Cinema release date: December 12, 2012
Distributor: Warner Bros. France
Note: 4.5 / 5 – Great movie
Reviewed by: Nicolas Gilli


In AN UNEXPECTED JOURNEY, Bilbo Sacquet seeks to take back the lost kingdom of the Dwarves of Erebor, conquered by the fearsome dragon Smaug. While he accidentally crosses paths with the magician Gandalf the Gray, Bilbo joins a gang of 13 dwarfs whose leader is none other than the legendary warrior Thorin Écu-de-Chêne.

Their journey takes them to the heart of the Wild Country, where they will have to face Goblins, Orcs, murderous Ouargues, Giant Spiders, Metamorphs and Wizards…

Although they are destined to set course for the East and the desert lands of Mont Solitaire, they must first escape the Gobelins tunnels, where Bilbo meets the creature that will forever change the course of his life: Gollum.

It is there that with Gollum, on the shores of an underground lake, the modest Bilbo Sacquet not only finds himself demonstrating unexpected courage and intelligence but also manages to get hold of the “precious “Gollum ring which conceals hidden powers…

This simple gold ring is linked to the fate of Middle-earth, without Bilbo suspecting it yet…


As expected as feared, this first episode of Peter Jackson’s new trilogy, The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, never disappoints.

The director has lost none of his splendor for his return to the world of the medium and is sufficiently skillful to satisfy the lover of his trilogy-monster of the early 2000s as much as the spectator eager for adventure and heroism. 

First melancholic, the film operates an impressive rise which leads him towards the very definition of the term “epic”. The king is back.

A little over 10 years ago, a little New Zealand genius who had already created a few marvels tried the impossible on his side of the world, free to move, to transform the pillar of heroic fantasy literature into a film. In 3 years, 3 films, some 10:30 am of a colossal work and The Lord of the Rings by JRR Tolkien came to life on screen.

Peter jackson delivered one of these films as we see only one per decade, with a little luck, laying the new foundations of heroic fantasy in cinema and multiplying the treasures of staging. 

A gigantism with which he gladly reconnects 10 years later in a film as blindly adulated as deeply hated even before the first images appear. Heroic fantasy implies a total absence of cynicism in the creator as in the spectator because the genre is based on a total adhesion to a universe constructed from scratch. 

So what was valid for The Lord of the Rings the rest for The Hobbit, the universe is the same, the treatment is very similar, and the tone is much lighter. 

Suffice to say that the refractory to the first trilogy can go their way while the others can expect to live an unprecedented cinema experience, playing as much in the film itself as in the nostalgic relationship to the Lord of the Rings and this experience emotional rare over three years. 

Where The Lord of the Rings immediately adopted a very somber tone, closely linked to the responsibility placed on the hero’s shoulders in a world on the brink of conflagration, The Hobbitevolves on lighter notes. 

Except that if the novel was originally addressed to children (and those of Tolkien in priority), the film opted for a very adult adventure based on mythological figures. 

The adventure imposed on Bilbo against his will is nothing more than a flamboyant initiatory quest for a hero to meet his own nature and a world with ancient traditions. 

Modern cowardice against the heroism of another time, the starting point of a great adventure. Aware of stratospheric expectations, Peter Jacksonis not one to play with the frustration of the spectator, except in his science of the cliffhanger which drives crazy.

Thus, he immediately delivers a vision of apocalypse during his prologue in the form of a flashback on the attack on Smaug taking possession of Erebor.

He treats the dragon-like a divine punishment falling on the souls gnawed by greed and sowing death, already adopting an aerial and twirling scene from Smaug’s point of view.

Intelligently, he hides the beast, of which only a vague silhouette and a few details can be distinguished, applying precisely the sacrosanct Spielbergian strategy which consists of creating fear of the monster without showing it.

This prologue serves both to create a tangible, gigantic threat but also proves necessary to create the stakes of the future quest of the dwarves.

Once this is donePeter Jackson speaks directly to the spectator from 10 years ago in order to introduce his story, and what could be better than finding the Comté during the preparations for Bilbo’s birthday, with Frodo? By thus tickling the nostalgic fiber of the public, he ensures his back while navigating on well-known terrain, and can afford a luxury to which few are entitled: take his time in his exhibition.

Some will no doubt see it as an apology for emptiness but it is nevertheless essential that The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey precisely captures the nature of Bilbo before sending him on this adventure.

And all this exposure, a strange emotional elevator which passes from the laughter (the handling of the burlesque humor remains a big asset of Peter Jackson) to tears (the powerful song of Thorin), playing on the breaks in tone until producing a variation of the song of the dishes of Merlin the enchanter, has no other purpose, beyond the need to ask the dramatic stakes of the story, than to paint a portrait of the hero.

We are at Peter Jackson’s house and everything goes through the combination of actors/staging, and he thus illustrates a rebellious being, little inclined to the effect of surprise, and above all very attached to his den.

This is an essential detail because the evolution of Bilbo will go through the choice of passing on the quest of the dwarves to find their land before his natural desire to return to his own.

At the start, everything is just excitement of the adventure (see how Peter Jackson films the emptiness left after the departure of the dwarves as if it lacked the essential in the immediate existence of Bilbo) before becoming true heroic learning.

The Hobbit: An unexpected journey, therefore, takes its time to seal this reunion between the spectator and this universe, and it is undoubtedly the most beautiful of the justifications for the fact of splitting the book, quite short, into three films beyond all otherwise legitimate economic impulse.

It did not take less to integrate the middle earth again, especially since this time, 60 years with the quest for Frodo, the subject is apparently less universal.

Nicolas Gilli

Hi, I'm Nicholas Gilli, I'm a blogger who is very much interested in blogging about film-making gadgets. I have experience as a cinematographer in the film industry for more than 15 years. My blogs would comprise of articles about film making gadgets and guides on how to use them. Even if you are a beginner you will learn a lot about cinematography here. Happy reading.

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