Peter Jackson returns to Middle Earth in The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, which follows Bilbo Baggins, an "ordinary" hobbit, who is swept up into an epic adventure revolving around the Dwarf clan reclaiming their lost Kindgom of Erebor. The film begins with Gandalf the Grey approaching Bilbo out of the blue to join him on this quest. Bilbo is incredibly reluctant, though he eventually agrees to go, in which he is accompanied by thirteen dwarves, led by Thorin Oakenshield, the heir to the Kindgom of Erebory. Without question, Peter Jackson's The Hobbit will always draw comparisons to the LOTRs trilogy and while the comparison is obvious, I'm not entirely sure it is a fair comparison. At the beginning of the film Jackson even seems to want to remind the viewer of the LOTR trilogy, showing Frodo (Elijah Wood with a cameo) at home with the elderly Bilbo before the viewer is transported 60 years into the past to tell the tale. It's a nice, simply way to grab the viewer and throw them back into this world but it certainly invokes more comparisons and criticism because of it. The Hobbit is simply a much smaller story than the LOTR, though Jackson infuses this film with tons of spectacle. For me the biggest problem with The Hobbit was simply that I didn't feel as invested in the characters. Thorin Oakenshield is by far the most interesting character in the film, a headstrong man who wants revenge against his father's killer, yet deep down feels he has been a complete failure to his people, who have no home. While the LOTR films had Aragon, Frodo, Sam, etc, I personally didn't feel very invested in the characters outside of Thorin. The Hobbit is also far more playful and lighthearted than the LOTR films, and while it certainty was entertaining in stretches, it ultimately made the dramatic beats far less compelling. This film just seems to lack the emotional weight and danger which the LOTR films did and I'm not sure why. It could be simply that Jackson is going through the motions this time around, but it's really hard to say without seeing the next two pieces of The Hobbit. That all being said, The Hobbit is no slouch in epic adventure sequences either, and there are quite a few beautifully realized sequences of CGI playtime, particularly the sequence involving the "rock giants" and the Goblin escape towards the end of the film. Peter Jackson's The Hobbit is an epic adventure that certainly lacks the emotional weight and stakes of the LOTR films, but it is getting far more negative buzz then it deserves.
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