It took some time for Oscar-winning director Peter Jackson to return to Middle Earth, but the wait was very much worth it. The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey
starts off by playing strongly to its links to the previous adaptation of J.R.R. Tolkien's Lord Of The Rings
trilogy, before setting off on an adventure of its own.
The first of three films based on The Hobbit, An Unexpected Journey isn't a fast film to get going, but it does spent quality time introducing its key characters. Most moviegoers are more than familiar with Sir Ian McKellen's Gandalf of course, but the collection of dwarves and Martin Freeman's take on Bilbo Baggins are all brought together, and the adventure ensues. It's a journey that's punctuated by terrifically orchestrated action sequences, a swirling score, and lavish production design.
Furthermore, The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey has one or two real standout moments contained within its running time, not least when we finally get reunited with Gollum. The sequence where Bilbo Baggins and Gollum come face to face is as good as anything Jackson put on screen in the Lord Of The Rings films. And while The Hobbit doesn't quite capture the magic of the earlier trilogy often enough, there's a lot here to enjoy, and plenty left to look forward to. It's beautifully, beautifully presented on disc, too. --Jon Foster
The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey is the first chapter in Peter Jackson's new epic trilogy set in Middle-Earth 60 years before J.R.R. Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings saga. Follow Bilbo Baggins as he's swept into a quest to reclaim the lost Dwarf Kingdom of Erebor, long ago conquered by the dragon Smaug. Approached by the wizard Gandalf the Grey, Bilbo finds himself joining a company of thirteen dwarves led by the legendary warrior Thorin Oakenshield. Their journey will take them through treacherous lands swarming with Trolls, Goblins, Orcs and deadly Wargs. They must escape the goblin tunnels, where Bilbo meets the creature Gollum who will change his life forever. Alone with Gollum on the shores of an underground lake, the unassuming Bilbo Baggins not only discovers guile and courage that surprise him, he also gains possession of Gollum's "precious" ring that holds unexpected and useful qualities, tied to the fate of all Middle-Earth. Several key talent members from The Lord of the Rings trilogy reprise their roles, along with exciting new cast members.