The journey is more important than the destination, or at least that’s what New Zealand filmmaker Peter Jackson would have us believe, if The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey (trailer), the latest feature from the director behind “The Lord of the Rings” fantasy film trilogy, all based on the writings of J. R. R. Tolkien, is anything to go by.
And while it is known that travellers have a certain propensity to exaggerate the tales they tell, one begins to wonder if Bilbo Baggins (Martin Freeman), a Hobbit, is among their ranks, as he recalls events of 60 years prior, given the numerous mishaps that befall him, and a band of Dwarves he once found himself on the road with.
Reluctantly leaving his comfortable life in the Shire, a domain of Middle-earth, at the behest of Gandalf (Ian McKellen), a wizard, Baggins agrees to help Dwarf prince, Thorin (Richard Armitage), reclaim Lonely Mountain, the seat of his late father’s kingdom, before the Dwarves were run out years earlier by Smaug the dragon.
The trek is by no means straightforward, and along the way Baggins, Gandalf, and their companions, frequently find their lives threatened variously by Trolls, Orcs, Wargs, and Goblins. Baggins, having become separated from the group at one point, also encounters Gollum (Andy Serkis), while pocketing a mysterious gold ring he finds.
Like what is at first a rather limp traveller’s tale, the storyteller has considerably augmented the first instalment of “The Hobbit” films, hoping a few people will take notice of it. Certainly Baggins and his friends lurch from close shave to tight spot, but more variation could have been added to what becomes a repetitive, and far too long, spiel.
Granted Jackson is working from relatively scant source material, “The Lord of the Rings” films were adapted from three books totalling more than 1500 pages, while “The Hobbit” is just over 300, but he will need to pull something incredible from the hat if the two yet to come “Hobbit” films are to tell more engaging, memorable, stories.