Review: The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey

Last night I sank into my cinema seat prepared to be bored.  I had been told I would be.  Reviewers had said so on the radio and in the papers.  The great machinery of publicity had come to its verdict – I was doomed.

Turned out I wasn’t. I enjoyed a world-shifting three hours of adventure.

The plot follows the trials of a small group of dwarves as they prepare to wrench back their homeland, the Middle Earth kingdom of Erebor from the dragon, Smaug.  Gandalf the wizard, and Bilbo Baggins the hobbit,  accompany the dwarves.

The risk averse Bilbo is played by Martin Freeman. His hobbit is a doubt-ridden anti-hero – worried, clever, frightened, thoroughly English, and ordinary.

Gandalf, of course, is the top trump.  His eyes, Ian McKellen’s eyes, are the unhurried pale blue of a wizard who can see through souls. Unpredictable and testing he often leaves dwarves and audience dangling long enough to learn something before he steps in to save them.

The film’s hard-as-nails hero, Thorin Oakenshield, is played by Richard Armitage.  His courage is legendary, of the rush-in-and-let-them-have-it variety, that leaves plenty for Bilbo, Gandalf and the others to tidy up.

Then there is Gollum – a huge-eyed, skeletal, child amphibian of a creature.  Andy Serkis brings Gollum up close to our worst nightmares then snatches him back, turns him petulant and precocious. He is 3D and imagination stretched to its sinews.

These are the characters that lead us deep towards honour and homeland in a fantasy of action and humour. Their company made Peter Jackson’s film a treat of entertainment. I enjoyed it all.

As for getting bored – James Bond can leave me feeling far more weary than Bilbo Baggins ever does.

Copyright Georgie Knaggs & The Phraser 2018

 

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