The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey (2012) Movie Review

Title: The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey.
Version: Extended Cut.
Rated: PG-13.
Director: Peter Jackson.
Screenplay: Fran Walsh, Philippa Boyens, Peter Jackson & Guillermo del Toro.
Release Date: December 14th, 2012.
Runtime: 3h02min.
Genre(s): Adventure, Fantasy.
Cast: Ian McKellen, Martin Freeman, Richard Armitage, Ken Slott, Graham McTavish, William Kircher, James Nesbitt, Stephen Hunter, Dean O’Gorman, Aidan Turner, and many more!
Budget: $200-315 Million.
My Overall Rating:

Rating: 3 out of 5.

It’s easy to take for granted the place we call home. Once rooted in the routine of a peaceful life, surrounded by the things and people we love, the world beyond the frontiers of our home seems inexistent, completely impertinent to our happiness. It is only once we step out of the confines of our home and set off on an adventure outside our comfort zone that we are reminded of our home, of the peace and quiet we used to love, and of what we’re fighting for with all our might to one day return to this place we desperately desire. But what is life without a place you can call home? Based on writer J.R.R. Tolkien’s classic novel The Hobbit, originally published in 1937, director Peter Jackson revisits the world of Middle-earth with the first of a trilogy that tells a story set sixty years prior to the events of his critically-acclaimed cult classic The Lord of the Rings trilogy and presents the hobbit Bilbo Baggins’s legendary adventure alongside fellow companions in search of a home.

What is The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey (2012) about? In the Shire, Bilbo Baggins is visited by the wizard Gandalf the Grey who deceptively organizes a dinner for Thorin Oakenshield and his 12 dwarf companions at his home. Unveiled on that night is their quest to enter the Lonely Mountain and reclaim the dwarves’ home from the dormant dragon Smaug, as well as their desire to recruit Bilbo Baggins as the company’s skilled burglar. Unbeknownst to Thorin, the pale orc Azog and his orcs on wargs are on a hunt for the dwarf leader before he ever reclaims his birthright as king of the Lonely Mountain from Smaug. Traveling onward, the company encounters foes and allies of all kinds, trying to survive the terrors hidden amidst the forest or deep underground, often feeling far from home and battling an invisible force far more terrifying than ever imagined.

(c) The New York Times.

It is such a pleasure to return to this beloved world visually brought to life by director Peter Jackson a decade after his masterful adaptation of The Lord of the Rings. Even more promising is how the core concept behind the novel The Hobbit is that of an adventure larger than life itself, and if properly executed and translated onto the big screen, could inspire in all people, little and tall, a sense of exploration that promotes growth and confidence in one’s self. Fans of the original novel, however, will find themselves disappointed in this adaptation that foils the greater ideas for a much more Holywoodian epic fantasy adventure, retaining some of the central events of the books, but shoehorning far-too-many brand-new, uninspiring, and irrelevant ideas that unnecessarily destroy the story’s pacing, offering a three-hour long extended cut quickly feeling exceedingly long for no good reason whatsoever. With key themes around belonging and having a home, the story also often ends up overshadowing Bilbo Baggins’s character maturation, hiding him away behind all the action, in favor of Thorin Oakenshield’s hate-fuelled journey to acceptance and belief in the help of those around him.

Putting aside the numerous changes to the original story, on top of all the additional subplots integrated into the movie, the characters partaking in this adventure are charismatic with their own unique voices. With each and every one of them, viewers are treated with a lovely company, each of them distinguishable by their individual personalities and skills. Bilbo Baggins (Martin Freeman), Gandalf the Grey (Ian McKellen), and Thorin Oakenshield (Richard Armitage) serve as the central figures of this adventure and play their respective roles delightfully, ultimately also complimentary to the dynamic chemistry of the company. However, it is worth noting that the one character that truly steals the show in a key prequel moment in the movie, which also explains to viewers how things led to the events in The Lord of the Rings, is Andy Serkis’s absolutely brilliant motion-captured portrayal of Gollum. That being said, this first movie of the trilogy also offers some exciting enemies beautifully animated through CGI, from trolls to goblins.

(c) Letterboxd.

If there’s one department where director Peter Jackson exceeds expectations it is with the visual effects. To achieve the epic fantasy adventure undertones of this movie, he brings to life glorious and gorgeous scenic shots of numerous regions within Middle-earth that Bilbo and his friends end up traveling to. From the mountainside to the underground goblin civilization, there’s something absolutely mesmerizing, at times overwhelming, with these visual achievements. While the more sluggish moments of the movie are far too numerous, once the action begins, things get hectically frenetic and chaotic, offering an engaging and immersive experience despite the more narrative flaws of this tale. The musical score, once more led by the legendary Howard Shore, is a nostalgic emotional stimulant throughout the movie, sometimes reusing theme songs a bit too much without purpose, but still always satisfying beyond what words could describe for any fans of Peter Jackson Middle-earth movies.

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey (2012) is a visual and technical spectacle with charming characters setting off on an epic adventure featuring a bloated narrative inevitably suffering in terms of pacing and irrelevance.

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey (2012) is available for purchase and on select streaming services.

Have you read The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien?
Have you seen The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey (2012)? Will you?
What did you think about it?
Share your thoughts with me!


33 thoughts on “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey (2012) Movie Review

  1. Sadly, I was one of the folks you mention who was disappointed by this adaptation. Not only did this one movie feel overly long and bloated and full of add-ons that gave more the feel of Pirates of the Caribbean than Middle-earth, but they had to stretch the story out to 3 entire movies, all overly long. I agree, though, it was nice seeing some of the great visuals. They did fantastic jobs with scenery, makeup, CGI and music. But overall, I just felt let down. And though I watched this in the theater, I went a very long time before I bothered watching the final two movies, skipping the theaters and waiting long past the time they were available on DVD/streaming, and even now I’ve largely forgotten them, which is fine because I have plenty of great memories and imagined scenery created after reading the novel several times, and there’s always the incredible adaptations of The Lord of the Rings.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I totally agree with you, Todd, and I don’t even blame you for waiting that long before checking out the final two movies in the trilogy. I dread what I’m in for but am still excited to check them out. I’m hoping that the action alone will keep me in a good mood as I take on the extended cuts of those two movies too.


  2. Fab review Lashaan! I haven’t seen this, but do remember my husband and son being disappointed with how they were stretched the book out over 3 films. They also didn’t like the added Father Christmas character! I’m not keen on Martin Freeman so definitely can’t see my self watching it. 😂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hahaha it’s insane how he managed to squeeze out 3 movies out of one small book! There was no way they were going to work in his favour. Not even Martin Freeman as Watson in the Sherlock series? I thought he was brilliant there and, honestly, that’s all hahahah I haven’t seen him in anything else that really made him stand out.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. ~sticks fingers in ears

    lalalalalalaalalalalalaallalalalaala I can’t hear you.

    yeah, not a fan of the whole Orc vs Thorin thing Jackson decided to use. I can never un-watch these though, so I have to accept that they exist, much like covid….

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I agree with you that the pacing of this one (and the two following movies) is far from perfect, but the sheer joy of being once again back in Middle Earth surpassed every other consideration, and I loved being taken there once more. The interactions between Bilbo and the dwarves, each with his own distinct personality, were for me the best moments in the movie… 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I really enjoyed your thoughtful, fair-minded review, Lashaan. Himself and I both LOVED the original Lord of the Rings film trilogy – but we’re utterly split over this one. I have enjoyed The Hobbit trilogy – while I acknowledge that some of the storylines were extraneous to the original plot, I felt Jackson still conveyed the spirit and feel of the world. But Himself loathes all 3 films, finding them bloated parodies of the original story.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much for your kind words, Sarah! I do understand what you mean about the spirit and feel of the world and it’s honestly what makes me appreciate this. I just wish it hadn’t invented all those unnecessary plot lines and stuck to max 2 movies for The Hobbit. Thank you so much for reading! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  6. I loved The Lord of the Rings trilogy, but the Hobbit trilogy was only ok. The one book had no business being adapted into three movies. And what was the deal with good-looking dwarfs? While I liked looking at Kíli, his romance with the new elf charcater Tauriel was absurd.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Amazing review, Lashaan! I knew you will be fine with this. It isn’t a total disaster. I was fine with the length as Bollywood movies are never shorter than 3 hrs so I was used to it. I agree visuals were mind-blowing. It’s the reason I enjoyed the movie but it’s been a long time and I read books after watching movies but I wish to reread books and watch movies again and see how I feel now.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. I do believe that, with even one more year of pre-production, this whole trilogy could have been much bigger. The problem is, this entire trilogy was rushed for a number of reasons, with too many studio mandates holding back what Peter Jackson wanted for this trilogy.
    Overall the first two movies are fine, but they’re nothing special. The third one is a complete, utter mess that feels unfinished on multiple levels. Also unlike the Lord of the Rings trilogy, the extended cuts don’t really add much. If anything, Battle of the Five Armies’ extended cut only adds stupidity and enough increased blood and gore to be the only movie in Peter Jackson’s Middle-Earth saga to be rated R.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I read that Peter Jackson was handed over the mantle after del Toro had to quit the project, so I can totally see how things could’ve gone completely different had he had full control from the beginning and with more time too.

      I was quite surprised to learn from you that the extended cut of the third movie is actually rated R. That’s insane. How does a book originally targeting children end up like that is beyond me. I look forward to finally seeing the second and third movie for the first time ever.


      1. That’s pretty much what happened. Peter Jackson had to start the whole trilogy from scratch, not to mention various studio mandates forced him to change things that should not have been changed.

        For example, there’s a love triangle involving a female elf in the second and third movie that Jackson didn’t originally plan on, that the studio forced into the movie. It feels, well … forced.

        Jackson also only had 1.5 years of pre-production to turn a single kid’s book into a movie trilogy, while with Lord of the Rings, he had 3 years of pre-production to turn a trilogy of books into a movie trilogy.

        The Hobbit was doomed from the start, and it’s remarkable it turned out as well as it did considering the complete mess the studio forced on Jackson.

        Liked by 1 person

      1. Fair. There are some fairly decent 3-4 hour edits I’ve found that cut out a lot of the movie-only additions. I would say there is definitely a fairly decent adaptation of the book somewhere in this trilogy, as long as you can find it.

        Liked by 1 person

  9. This was a movie that I pretended was Hobbit-esque rather than The Hobbit and enjoyed as such. But, yes, its light years different in enjoyment from Jackson’s LOTR trio for me.

    Enjoyed your thoughts and yes, agree about the scope of his settings.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Yeaa… I was disappointed by this too.
    “shoehorning far-too-many brand-new, uninspiring, and irrelevant ideas that unnecessarily destroy the story’s pacing” << totally agree!!
    Gollum and the dwarves were probably the only things I liked. I get so grumpy when I watch it.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. After the amazing LoTR movies, this was definitely disappointing. Maybe because they have stretched the story out? In any case, I decided not to watch the other two Hobbit movies. Such a shame.

    Liked by 1 person

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