This was unexpectedly not that great as compared to “The Lord of The Rings” trilogy.

“An Unexpected Journey” takes us 60 years prior to “The Fellowship of The Ring.”  Bilbo Baggins (played by Martin Freeman) gets caught up in a dangerous adventure with the wizard Gandalf (played by Ian McKellen) and a group of dwarves.  The dwarves seek to reclaim their land and the vast treasure within their mountain home that was stolen by a creature named Smaug.  The problem for Freeman, McKellen, and the dwarves is that Smaug is a dragon who can destroy armies faster than a person goes to the bathroom after a very spicy, Indian meal.

The music and special effects in this movie are top notch.  The story and characters…not so much.  Freeman plays a likeable enough character, and I was sympathetic to the problems of the leader dwarf played by Richard Armitage.  If the previous sentence sounds like a compliment to this movie, it is not.  For a movie of this magnitude, I want characters that I will deeply care about at some point in the movie, characters who — if they should die — I would feel a sense of loss.  No such character existed in “An Unexpected Journey.”

This movie also suffers from following at the heels of the great “Lord of The Rings” trilogy.  It’s like driving a Ford Mustang GT after you’ve driven a Porsche 911 Turbo.  Now, if “An Unexpected Journey” came out first, the outcome would be different.  Hopefully the next two parts of “The Hobbit” will be much better.

One reason why this movie wasn’t that great?  The dwarves suck.  I found them annoying, filthy and crude.  But they are brave; and one scene that depicts their bravery in battle is my most memorable, movie moment of “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey.”  That would be the scene when three Ogres capture Freeman, and the dwarves rush in and fight to save their friend.   The Ogres are about ten times the size of a dwarf, but the dwarves fight like crazed Vikings.  As a little guy myself, I always find it inspiring to see other small guys fighting bigger guys when there is no other choice but to fight.

Should you watch this movie?  Of course, especially if you are a fan of the “LOTR” movies.  You’ll get lots of backstory about who Bilbo Baggins was when he was younger, how Bilbo got hold of the sword named “Sting” and the ring of Sauron, why dwarves have beef with Elves, etc.  Just don’t expect this movie to be on the same level with the previous three movies based on Tolkien’s books.

M

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