Movie Review: The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey

The most unexpected thing about Peter Jackson’s The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey (C-) is what a letdown it is after his famous Middle Earth trilogy that came before it. If the Lord of the Rings novels were each dense books distilled into what amounts to a mini-series of episodic wonders, The Hobbit is a light paperback prequel stretched out into a three-part tedium. What else accounts for the first hour of this film being used for an unnecessary tacked-on framing device about Bilbo Baggins’ birthday party followed by an extended dinner party with a bunch of dwarves singing a song? By the time the underwhelming protagonist is introduced at his rightful age and played by Martin Freeman, the film has long since lost its ability to kickstart the thrills. This time around, the effects look like overproduced video games. There are simply too many characters winding through too many caverns for the eye to focus in on anything distinctive that looks at all remarkable or interesting. Instead of a cliffhanger that teases the thrills ahead, the ending prompts the question, “did this really need to be three films?”