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Dec 292014

Part Eight ~ Closing Thoughts and a Mordor Star Rating

In this portion of the Mordor Review of The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, I will give my concluding thoughts on the film and deliver a final grade and a star rating.

In Part One of Mordor’s Review of The Hobbit: AUJ, I gave a brief overview of the film. I touched on many areas of The Hobbit: AUJ where I feel it shined and other areas was where I feel it failed. In Part Eight of this review we will offer a quick wrap-up and post a few closing thoughts about the first film in The Hobbit trilogy.

Please go HERE to our Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey Review Page for all eight parts of the Mordor Review!

Let’s begin Part Eight of our review of The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey with a quick overview.

Before we get started, I must admit that I have written this part of the review much later than the first seven parts. At this stage I have seen both The Desolation of Smaug and The Battle of the Five Armies, which gives me a perspective I didn’t have when writing the first of these reviews. I included a Closing Thoughts and a Star Rating as part of my review of The Desolation of Smaug and so decided  that I ought to retroactively  add one to An Unexpected Journey also. So here it is…

The first installment of Peter Jackson’s The Hobbit trilogy came with extremely high expectations, that were almost impossible to meet. That, in combination with the visual problems inherent in the new HFR technology and the fact that the first film was only three months away from release, before it was decided to turn it into a trilogy of films rather than just two. I almost wish they had waited another year before releasing the first film to give the filmmakers more time. The plot holes and strained narrative flow of this first film felt awkward at times and some of the CGI showed how rushed the first film was. These issues along with the notion that The Lord of the Rings films had already received so many accolades and praise, that it almost guaranteed a negative reception for The Hobbit from critics and reviewers.


The one thing you can count on in Hollywood is that an ingenue directors will be placed on a pedestal if they create a really great film and will in turn get knocked off their pedestal almost as quickly as they were placed there. Peter Jackson create three great films and the films won seventeen out of thirty Academy Award nominations. I’m sure in Hollywood, some felt this was just too much of a good thing. There was apparently a pent up need to throw rocks at Middle-earth… and when Peter Jackson took on The Hobbit project, it gave them just opportunity they were looking for.

Now, this is not to say that this film doesn’t have problems. Too much reliance on CGI over practical effects was a big mistake. It was the practical effects in The Lord of the Rings films that grounded the world in reality. Somewhere along the way Peter Jackson forgot this. In addition, the last minute switch from two to three films created a bumpy start for the trilogy and gave ammunition to the haters. That said, it’s my opinion that of the three films, The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey contains the greatest essence of Tolkien writings in its narrative. Many have complained that the film is meandering, long winded and takes forever to get to the action. I disagree. I love almost all of the time spent in Bag End and The Shire, but I am a fan of Tolkien and can never get enough. For the most part, in my opinion the changes made in first film, over Tolkien’s writing were an improvement as far as making a good film is concerned, and for this reason I’m giving this film higher marks, where other might give it a lower score.

The Tolkien Purist vs The Action Movie Fan…

As I have stated many times over the course of these reviews, I am of two minds and two hearts about these films.

One part of me is the Tolkien Purist who wants to see on film what Tolkien wrote… and if not exactly what he wrote in words, then at least seeing the narrative stay within the spirit of Tolkien’s words as much as possible. Peter Jackson did this for the most part in the first trilogy, but there are still moments when I cringe at the choices made by the filmmakers (the odd change about Gandalf’s desire to enter Moria, the often silly antics of Merry and Pippin, and the terrible looking wargs in The Two Towers!), but the overall, the essence of Tolkien’s writing is definitely felt in these films. In The Hobbit trilogy there is often a sense that small written passages have become a wild thrill ride more akin to a theme park then to Tolkien’s words.

And yet there is the other side of me that enjoys seeing a great action flick, filled with monsters, mayhem and over the top action that Peter Jackson is so good at bringing to the big screen. He also never forgets to give us the small moments when the characters take in all of the terrible and wonderful things happening to them.

The Extended Edition…

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey Extended Edition for the most part did not affect how I felt about this film. There was only an additional 15 minutes of added footage and for the most part it could have been left out. The exception to this, is the conversations between Gandalf and Elrond on their way to the White Council meeting and the additions to that scene. That and the extended shots in the Erebor Prologue showing the gems of Thranduil being withheld. It made his reaction after the dragon came much more understandable. I wish these scenes had made it into the theatrical version.

However, my overall feeling about the extended edition  scenes is that they could easily have been left out!

Now for the Final Verdict…

So, how will I grade this film? As the Tolkien Purist? Or as a fan of Peter Jackson’s thrill ride films with a heart? I suppose it will naturally have to be a mix of both!

The Tolkien Purist gives this film a B+ and yet the Action Film Lover has to give the movie a C for is slow beginning. So, the final Grade for The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey is rounded out to a B- for this first film in the trilogy. You may agree and you may not… but there it is! Feel free to comment below!

Final GRADE B-

Now for my Star Rating… out of Five Stars I’m giving this film a 4 Star rating… though I must say this one was a close shave. It was right on the border of getting three Stars, but it was the Riddle in the Dark scene between Bilbo and Gollum the made this movie shine, it was near perfection. I was also impressed with the Battle of the Pines at the end of the film and the confrontation between Thorin and Azog! That and the wonderful look at parts of Bag End we didn’t get to see in the first trilogy and the scene of Gandalf giving Bilbo Sting outside of the Troll cave.

Final Rating ~ 4 STARS 

Well, here is is at last, the final Mordor assessment of The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey.

Please go HERE to our Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey Review Page for all eight parts of the Mordor Review!


 December 29, 2014  Posted by at 7:23 pm
  • TheMadTitan

    Well I guess I liked AUJ more than you did lol. I give it 5/5, and it gets an A+ from an action movie perspective from me and an A- from the Tolkien fan in me. Thank you for posting this though, it’s always interesting to hear your thoughts on these films!

  • Random Musings

    After watching the EE of this film recently I must say it’s getting better with each subsequent viewing (this is my third of the EE). It goes without saying that it’s not as good as any of the LOTR EE but that would be true of nearly all films. Also the changes to the books are becoming less noticeable as I’m drawn into the story a lot more.
    I’d give it a 4/5 and A-.