The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey (♦♦♦♦)

Gandalf appears one fine morning at Bilbo Baggins’ doorstep in the shire to mark his door, unbeknownst to him, and invite rude, mean-looking dwarves to a banquet in Bilbo’s home. The reason? An extraordinary adventure that will lead the dwarves to reclaim the land they were driven away from by Smaug the dragon, and Bilbo to embark on a quest no other hobbit before him has ever been. On their way to Lonely Mountain, Bilbo, Gandalf and the dwarves will encounter many obstacles some of whom are orcs intent on killing them, and trolls with different motives.

If anyone had any doubts that director Peter Jackson had lost his Middle Earth mojo, those doubts have been dissipated with the release of The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey. The magic is back and so are the luscious visual effects and the fantastic creatures that populate a realm only J.R.R. Tolkien could have imagined and only someone with the imagination and creative genius of Peter Jackson can bring to life. The result is breathtaking. I confess I felt transported way more this time around than with The Lord of the Rings Trilogy, not because it is much better, but because I didn’t have the pleasure of watching the latter in a movie theater.

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey is funny, refreshing and thrilling. The New Zealander landscape is breathtaking, evidenced by the aerial views of “Middle Earth”. Even the light effects convey the mood of the story: the land of the Elves is lush, green, luminous and so are the forest where one of the wizards witnesses evil coming his way and the distant view of Lonely Mountain at the end of the film. In contrast, the cave inhabited by Gollum is pitch dark and so are the dwellings of the orcs and trolls.

In summary, The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey sets a great pace for the next two installments to be released in the next two years.