Tuesday, January 1, 2013

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey - A Magnificent Start

When The Return of the King came out, the conclusion of Peter Jackson’s adaptation of J.R.R. Tolkien The Lord of the Rings, it concluded an epic tale. Due to rights issues, The Hobbit was not part of the initial adaptation, even though it was the story that really started the tale. Things changed, as they frequently do, and before we knew it, Peter Jackson has brought us the first part of his adaptation of The Hobbit.

But it isn’t just the story from The Hobbit. Tolkien included a huge amount of related information that fills in the gaps in the story in the appendices at the end of The Lord of the Rings. The saga now unfolding is of the finding of the One Ring and the events that lead up to The Lord of the Rings. At the core is the story of Bilbo Baggins and how Gandalf roped him into his great adventure with the dwarves.

What must be clear to everyone who sees this film is that The Hobbit is not The Lord of the Rings. The Hobbit was written nearly 20 years earlier and was a simple adventure. Anyone expecting something that feels exactly like The Lord of the Rings will be disappointed. That said, it is the same world, the same races, and a few of the same characters. Where The Lord of the Rings was frightening and intense from early on, The Hobbit starts off fun and full of adventure and the danger only shows up in bits and pieces along the way, growing as they get closer to their destination.

As usual, Jackson did a fantastic job. He has again skillfully mined the appendices of The Lord of the Rings to expand the story. This time out, there wasn’t a lot added to the story. The Hobbit is has a lot of story packed in it and it was very faithfully brought to the screen. Jackson has again shown his mastery of Tolkien’s world and given us another gem. The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey has an aura of fun and joviality that mirrors the book, yet behind it are the roots of the darkness that in time will lead to the story of Frodo and the One Ring. A definite must see for those who loved the previous films, love the book, or just plain love fantasy.

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