Bilbo Baggins is swept into a quest to reclaim the lost Dwarf Kingdom of Erebor from the fearsome dragon Smaug. Approached out of the blue by the wizard Gandalf the Grey, Bilbo finds himself joining a company of thirteen dwarves led by the legendary warrior, Thorin Oakenshield. Their journey will take them into the Wild; through treacherous lands swarming with Goblins and Orcs, deadly Wargs and Giant Spiders, Shapeshifters and Sorcerers. Although their goal lies to the East and the wastelands of the Lonely Mountain first they must escape the goblin tunnels, where Bilbo meets the creature that will change his life forever ... Gollum. Here, alone with Gollum, on the shores of an underground lake, the unassuming Bilbo Baggins not only discovers depths of guile and courage that surprise even him, he also gains possession of Gollum's "precious" ring that holds unexpected and useful qualities ...
Some love stories are built on passion, some on courage and some on hope. Very rarely do you come across a love story that encompasses itself around a journey. The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey introduces us to the world of Bilbo Baggins, who mirrors the most innocent of sentiments which lie locked up within the depths of our heart. He wins us over in the first frame, because he is one among us. It is not his heroism which makes him surreal, but his vulnerability which makes him endear-able. The audience falls in love with Bilbo because he is scared of the unknown just like us. What makes him a hero is his conviction and spirit, which makes him embark on a wide-spread journey for the search of love and faith. It is somewhere in that journey, that you no longer root for Peter Jackson and his victory, but for Bilbo and his belief, which makes The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey a winner right from the opening credits.
His name is Bilbo, Bilbo Baggins. Brought up in an unforgiving society, Bilbo battles the alternate evils of racial profile and scornful peers with equal focus, trying to make sense of the world that burns homes, bullies people at school and make a false show of sympathy. He goes by the doctrine of Gandalf the Grey, who teaches him that there are two classes of people in the world, those who are good and would offer a lollipop and those who are bad and would point a sharp stick. There is no caste, creed or religion but just people who shape the world. It is this philosophy which Bilbo carries forward in his love and faith, painting his journey in a collage of alternate light and dark emotions, shadow plays of human nature which guides him to the world or perhaps, guides the world towards him.
The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey is appreciable because of its brilliance, acceptable for its nobility and unquestionable in its integrity. Peter Jackson weaves in a tale of love, faith, strength and humanity within a cinematic frame of timeless minutes pulling out a riveting and compelling human drama of innocence poised against the system, through the filtered sensibilities of a patient suffering from the effects of an enchanter's ring, one who cannot understand the world, but love it enough to change it. The keynotes of each frame, drenched with subtle social comments and complex emotional undertones makes the movie an amalgamation of the colors of hope and persistence, with layered textures of unspoken bonds. With Bilbo, Jackson succeeds in bringing the system on trial through the eyes of one who cannot bias himself on any ideology, making his emotions pure and though provoking, which touches the innermost chords of the heart, moistening the eyes and serenading the senses.
The story is filled with emotional subtexts which move at breakneck speed throughout the length of the film, constantly switching gears between the palettes of emotions. The dialogs exude class and confidence holding grip of the story yet laced with the finesse that allows for emotional drama combined with spiritual uprising, casting a satire on the entire system and its treatment of identities. The script penned by Fran Walsh is one of par excellence, allowing the audience to blend into Bilbo through his smiles and tears , laugh in his joy and cringe with every blow dealt to him. The screenplay drops hypocritical moral ambitions to make scathingly relevant comments on modern outlook of the world, making it rise several notches above anything attempted in modern-day Hollywood.
In the end, The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey becomes the experience it is because of Bilbo and Gandalf, essayed flawlessly by Freeman and McKellen. Freeman exudes the spirit of Bilbo in every breath and pulse of the film, putting in a performance that is beyond any benchmark of excellence. He controls every single emotional nerve of the audience with vacant stares and dimpled smiles, towering like an illusionist conjuring up a magical performance of a lifetime. He breaks every stereotypical mould attached to him to rise like a phoenix from the ashes with Bilbo , who reigns over the audience in a sweeping wave of emotions, establishing a bond that scales beyond the arc-lights of the 70mm screen. He is complimented by Thorin whose very presence lights up the entire room with just a flashing smile. He balances the sensitivity of love and charm with the emotional conflict of a ravaged heart with effortless poise. The interactions between Freeman and his merry company form the highlights of the film, filled with the cackling chemistry of a uninhibited passion, captivating the audience in the mesmerizing spell of the couple. Elijah Wood as Bilbo's nephew delivers a matured and restrained performance while Hugo Weaving as Eldron blends in simplicity with sensibility in a performance that comes straight from the heart. Benedict Cumberbatch is exceptional as the young Sauron in his mannerisms while the supporting cast all deliver credible performances including Ian Holm in a dazzling cameo.
There will always be movies that enchant us with their magic, but there will hardly be a journey that goes beyond cinematic borders to deliver the experience of a lifetime. The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey is undoubtedly the new face of global cinema that enthralls with each passing frame, healing the hidden scars of the heart with its message of a better and humane world. There might be superheroes, but there will never be one Bilbo Baggins, who takes pride in being ordinary and yet changes the face of his world.