I watched The Hobbit: An unexpected Journey with my Dad and my little brother last week. It's kind of a bad way to learn we should look up a movie rating before taking a seven-year-old to see it. It was PG-13, not G.
Nonetheless no one can deny that Peter Jackson has again accomplished a masterpiece. The Hobbit had all the fine qualities that its predecessors had, along with the pleasure of seeing a few familiar faces that we thought we'd never see again—Frodo, thumbs in his overalls and just a mite taller than we remember, Galadriel who brings serenity and wisdom to the craziness of Middle Earth, Gollum (whether we wanted to see him again or not) and, of course, old Bilbo Baggins. The only flaw is that he's old, whereas he's supposed to never grow a day older—still, he doesn't look like it's the eve of his eleventy-first birthday as he narrates the story of his first adventure.
We could complain that the movie is an inaccurate representation of the book, but if we did find this a problem we should have expected it, knowing what The Lord of the Ring movies were like. Only The Fellowship of the Ring parallels exactly with its book, and even then they leave out Tom Bombadil as completely irrelevant (he sort of is, you must admit). Peter Jackson tries desperately in The Hobbit to bring back the epic battles and dark plotline that The Lord of the Rings carried so well, whereas Tolkien meant The Hobbit to be light and merry: twelve dwarves and a little hobbit going to slay a dragon. When Tolkien wrote The Hobbit, however, he wrote it as a prelude to The Lord of the Rings. Jackson made this movie as an appendix. Thus scenes like Gandalf, Galadriel, Saruman and Elrond sitting around a table worrying their heads off about wolves on the west side of the mountains, and the Brown finding spiders around his hut and the necromancer in a ruinous city, we see strong ties between this movie and its predecessor. The book The Hobbit doesn’t point to The Lord of the Rings, although the Lord of the Rings has its roots deep in this jovial little tale.
At points the movie draws on and makes the audience a bit squirmy in their seats, but between these dull moments come action-packed chases and battles, exceptional graphics, and the hilarious antics of the Dwarves.
The Hobbit brings some new thematic elements in as well, giving the plot some finer points. The Dwarf Thorin seems a miniature version of Aragon (literally); he, like Aragon, is a lost prince returning to his kingdom; he is noble, handsome, mysterious, and if a dwarf could be a teenage heartthrob Thorin could manage it. His mortal enemy is a one-armed orc seeking revenge from the house of Thor. Meanwhile Gandalf is pressed by the reappearance of the necromancer, and the jovial tale takes a dramatic turn for the best, bringing it up to the Lord of the Rings standards in almost every way. With the exceptionally good acting Martin Freeman as the young and stiff Bilbo Baggins, we are lead step by step on the journey of a life time, and are left longing for the release of The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug next December.