3 Ways the The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey Adaptation Succeeded

Movies based on books always have flaws, especially for us book-loving people. But what did ‘The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey’ do right?

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Gandalf holding his staff looking at the distance against a green landscape

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, based on The Hobbit, is the first in The Hobbit movie trilogy. It received mixed critical reviews, with many criticisms about its high frame rate — they did 48 frames per second as opposed to 24 — or that it was nearly three hours long. Despite this, moviegoers had high praise for the movie. Which begs the question: what made the movie work? Read on to find out!

The Cast

Some of the actors reprised their roles from The Lord of the Rings, such as Ian McKellan as Gandalf, but some are new to the franchise, like Martin Freeman as young Bilbo. Having recurring characters makes people more likely to watch the series as well as keeping the characters about the same. The movie needed new actors for new characters, of course, but because the movie is based on a widely popular book, there’s a lot of pressure on the cast to be their best.

Bifur, Óin, Dwalin, and Bofur surrounding Bilbo in his house

Luckily, the cast delivered. Each character was perfectly cast, and everyone performed so well. Despite approximately 10 years between the last LotR movie and this one, the recurring actors still brought the same performance and magic they had in the previous trilogy. The new actors brought their characters to life, and their characters were as fun and believable as they were in the books.

How it Connects to the Lord of the Rings Trilogy

The Hobbit is a prequel to The Lord of the Rings, so the two series are naturally connected. They are set 60 years apart, and while it isn’t necessary to read or watch The Hobbit before Lord of the Rings, it does help with some backstory. This movie, as well as the trilogy as a whole, also included information from some of Tolkien’s other Middle-earth works. One example is Unfinished Tales, which is a collection of essays and stories about Middle-earth and Númenor.

Poster of the entire cast from 'The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey'

This does make the movies a little confusing for those who only read The Hobbit, but by adding this extra information and backstory, the two series are more connected. Rather than taking place in the same world 60 years apart, they feel more like cause and effect, and that makes them more compelling. Plus, the extra material helped flesh out the movies more since the trilogy was only based on a single book.

It Reminds Viewers of The Lord of the Rings

Since both of the series were written — and directed — by the same person and take place in the same world, there are naturally going to be similarities. But the books are very different. The Hobbit is a children’s book; The Lord of the Rings books are for adults. An exact adaptation of the book may not have appealed to some fans of The Lord of the Rings, and that would have limited the audience. (Though a completely faithful adaptation would also have been amazing.)

Bilbo Baggins staring at his sword Sting held carefully in his hands

The movie keeps some of the book’s lightheartedness while adding some epic elements reminiscent of the original trilogy. The events remain the same, but they’re portrayed differently. For example, the war with the dwarves in Moria is only summarized in the book, but it’s fleshed out in the movie. By combining elements from both series, the result is a movie that depicts the events of the story in an interesting way to keep non-readers — and perhaps future readers — watching.

While the movie has its flaws, there are plenty of good things about it to keep people watching. What’s your favorite thing about the movie?

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