The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey is a 2012 epic high fantasy adventure film directed by Peter Jackson from a screenplay by Fran Walsh, Philippa Boyens, Jackson, and Guillermo del Toro, based on the 1937 novel The Hobbit by J. R. R. Tolkien. It is the first installment in The Hobbit trilogy, acting as a prequel to Jackson’s The Lord of the Rings trilogy.
The story is set in Middle-earth sixty years before the main events of The Lord of the Rings and portions of the film are adapted from the appendices to Tolkien’s The Return of the King. An Unexpected Journey tells the tale of Bilbo Baggins (Martin Freeman), who is convinced by the wizard Gandalf (Ian McKellen) to accompany thirteen Dwarves, led by Thorin Oakenshield (Richard Armitage), on a quest to reclaim the Lonely Mountain from the dragon Smaug. The ensemble cast also includes Ken Stott, Cate Blanchett, Ian Holm, Christopher Lee, Hugo Weaving, James Nesbitt, Elijah Wood, and Andy Serkis, and features Sylvester McCoy, Barry Humphries, and Manu Bennett.
An Unexpected Journey premiered in Wellington on 28 November 2012, and was then released on 12 December in New Zealand and on 14 December in the United States, by Warner Bros. Pictures. It was almost nine years after the release of The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King. The film received mixed reviews from critics and grossed over $1.017 billion at the box office, making it the fourth highest-grossing film of 2012. The film received numerous accolades; at the 85th Academy Awards, it was nominated for Best Production Design, Best Makeup and Hairstyling, and Best Visual Effects.
Two sequels, The Desolation of Smaug and The Battle of the Five Armies, followed in 2013 and 2014, respectively.
A film adaptation of J. R. R. Tolkien’s novel The Hobbit (1937) was in development for several years after the critical and financial success of The Lord of the Rings film trilogy (2001–2003), co-written, co-produced, and directed by Peter Jackson. Jackson was initially going to produce and write a two-film adaptation of The Hobbit, which was to be directed by Guillermo del Toro. Del Toro left the project in May 2010, after about two years of working with Jackson and his production team, due to delays caused in part by financial problems at Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. Jackson was announced as director that October. The Hobbit films were produced back to back, like The Lord of the Rings films. Principal photography for The Hobbit films began on 21 March 2011 in New Zealand and ended on 6 July 2012, after 266 days of filming. Pick-ups for An Unexpected Journey were filmed in July 2012 as well. Work on the film was expected to be completed on 26 November, just two days prior to the film’s Wellington premiere.
Jackson had said that del Toro’s sudden exit created problems as he felt he had very little preparation time remaining before shooting had to begin, with unfinished scripts and without storyboards, which increased the difficulty to direct it. Jackson stated, “Because Guillermo del Toro had to leave and I jumped in and took over, we didn’t wind the clock back a year and a half and give me a year and a half prep to design the movie, which was different to what he was doing. It was impossible, and as a result of it being impossible I just started shooting the movie with most of it not prepped at all. You’re going on to a set and you’re winging it, you’ve got these massively complicated scenes, no storyboards and you’re making it up there and then on the spot”. Jackson also said, “I spent most of The Hobbit feeling like I was not on top of it. Even from a script point of view, Fran [Walsh], Philippa [Boyens] and I hadn’t got the entire scripts written to our satisfaction, so that was a very high pressure situation”. However, Jackson goes on to explain in the DVD/Blu-ray featurettes the various ways in which he and his crew overcame the obstacles encountered during filming. They found ways of making things work, even in a “very high pressure situation” in which he and his crew found themselves, especially the shooting of the Battle of the Five Armies which was shifted from 2012 to 2013 to be properly planned and shot.
- Martin Freeman as Young Bilbo Baggins: a hobbit hired by the wizard Gandalf to accompany 13 dwarves on a quest to reclaim the Lonely Mountain from the dragon Smaug.
- Ian Holm, who portrayed Old Bilbo Baggins in The Lord of the Rings trilogy appears also in scenes that take place directly before the events of The Fellowship of the Ring.
- Ian McKellen as Gandalf the Grey: a wizard who recruits Bilbo and helps to arrange the quest to reclaim the dwarves’ lost treasure in Erebor. Gandalf was also portrayed by McKellen in The Lord of the Rings film trilogy.
- Richard Armitage as Thorin Oakenshield II: the leader of the Company of dwarves who has set out to reclaim his birthright as King of the Lonely Mountain from Smaug.
- Ken Stott as Balin: Dwalin’s brother. He is described in the novel as “always their look-out man”.
- Graham McTavish as Dwalin: Balin’s brother.
- Aidan Turner as Kíli: Thorin’s nephew and Fíli’s younger brother.
- Dean O’Gorman as Fíli: Thorin’s nephew and Kíli’s older brother.
- Mark Hadlow as Dori: Nori and Ori’s brother. He is described in the novel as “a decent fellow, despite his grumbling”, while Thorin described him as being the strongest member of the company. Hadlow also plays Bert the Stone-troll.
- Jed Brophy as Nori: Dori and Ori’s brother.
- Adam Brown as Ori: Dori and Nori’s brother.
- John Callen as Óin: Gloin’s brother.
- Peter Hambleton as Glóin: Óin’s brother. Hambleton also plays William the Stone-troll.
- William Kircher as Bifur: Bofur and Bombur’s cousin. Kircher also plays Tom the Stone-troll.
- James Nesbitt as Bofur: Bombur’s brother and Bifur’s cousin, described as “a disarmingly forthright, funny and occasionally brave Dwarf”.
- Stephen Hunter as Bombur: Bofur’s brother and Bifur’s cousin; described in the novel as fat and clumsy.
- Cate Blanchett as Galadriel: the elven co-ruler of Lothlórien along with her husband, Lord Celeborn. She was also portrayed by Blanchett in The Lord of the Rings film trilogy.
- Hugo Weaving as Elrond: the Elven-Lord of Rivendell, who gives shelter to Bilbo’s party, despite Thorin’s great suspicion of Elves. He was also portrayed by Weaving in The Lord of the Rings film trilogy.
- Christopher Lee as Saruman the White: the head of the Istari Order and its White Council. He was also portrayed by Lee in The Lord of the Rings film trilogy.
- Elijah Wood as Frodo Baggins: Bilbo’s favourite nephew. His scenes take place shortly before the events of The Fellowship of the Ring.
- Sylvester McCoy as Radagast the Brown: a wizard whose wisdom involves nature and wildlife.
- Andy Serkis as Gollum: a wretched hobbit-like creature corrupted by the One Ring. Serkis portrayed Gollum through motion capture, as he did in The Lord of the Rings film trilogy. Serkis also acted as second unit director of the trilogy.
- Manu Bennett as Azog the Defiler: the Orc chieftain of Moria who beheaded King Thrór in the battle of Azanulbizar and now hunts for Thorin and his company after taking an oath to break the line of Durin. He leads a band of Hunter Orcs and rides a huge white warg.
- Barry Humphries as the Great Goblin: the king of the caverns of Goblin Town in the Misty Mountains.
- Conan Stevens as Bolg: son of Azog.
- John Rawls as Yazneg: Azog’s second-in-command. Movement choreographer Terry Notary played Yazneg during pick-up shots.
- Bret McKenzie as Lindir: an elf of Rivendell.
- Kiran Shah as the Goblin scribe: a scribe and messenger for the Great Goblin.
- Jeffrey Thomas as Thrór: the former king of Durin’s Folk and Thorin’s grandfather.
- Stephen Ure as Fimbul, one of Azog’s Orc hunters, and lieutenant to Yazneg. After Yazneg is killed, Fimbul becomes Azog’s right-hand man. Ure also played a goblin, named Grinnah, who acted as the Great Goblin’s acolyte.
- Michael Mizrahi as Thráin II: the last Dwarf-King of Erebor and Thorin’s father.
- Benedict Cumberbatch as the voice of the dragon Smaug, as well as The Necromancer, a mysterious sorcerer residing in Dol Guldur with the ability to summon the spirits of the dead. Cumberbatch provided performance capture for the character’s brief appearance in this film.
November 28, 2012
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