I hope you all had a good Christmas!
It’s been ages since I posted a film review and this seems as good a candidate as any.
The film is set 60 years before The Lord of the Rings begins. Frodo’s uncle, Bilbo, finds himself joining Gandalf and a group of dwarves on a quest to return to their homeland which they were forced to abandon after it was desolated by a dragon.
As a big fan of The Lord of the Rings films (and the book, for that matter) I was excited to see this. I haven’t read The Hobbit in about 10 years so I was at a loss for some of the film to know what was in the book and which events the film-makers had dreamt up themselves. They’ve decided to make the adaption of The Hobbit into a trilogy. However, The Lord of the Rings worked as a trilogy because the books were a trilogy. The Hobbit, on the other hand, is considerably shorter and while the additional action was impressive it did feel a little like padding. I was left feeling that would probably have worked better if they had kept it as one film (two at most), stuck to what was in the book and rattled through things a bit quicker. As it is it seems like the dwarves, Bilbo and Gandalf simply move from one danger to another. There is little time for characterisation of any outside the main players which means that many of the dwarves are simply stuck at the back. There were also a few bits which were just silly, including the appearance of Radagast, another wizard, and a fight between two stone giants on a mountain. In the book or not, they didn’t work for me.
On the plus side are a number of points in its favour. The acting is top notch, especially from Martin Freeman as Bilbo and the return of Andy Serkis as Gollum. There are appearances from characters from The Lord of the Rings, including Frodo, Elrond and Galadriel, none of which (as I recall) occur in the book but the way it is done feels natural, not forced. There were a number of other links to The Lord of the Rings, such as Frodo heading off to meet Gandalf on his way to Hobbiton for Bilbo’s birthday party (which is the beginning of The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring) and rumours of the return to Middle Earth of Sauron. This also means a welcome return for Ian Holm playing the older Bilbo. It is quite fun playing ‘Spot the British acting talent’ amongst the dwarves. Richard Armitage plays their leader, Thorin and other well-known actors playing members of the company include James Nesbitt, Ken Stott and Aiden Turner.
Much of the creative team, including director Peter Jackson, writers, producers, armourers and special effects team (the magnificent Weta Workshop designed and built the sets, clothing, props, creatures etc) return from The Lord of the Rings, which firmly roots The Hobbit in the same universe. Composer Howard Shore also returns and the music uses the same musical themes as before, which also helps it feel related. I can’t help but wonder if that would have been the case if original director Guillermo Del Toro remained on board.
The scenery in New Zealand also steals the show once again.
I am going to have to read the book again I think!
While I enjoyed this, I won’t be buying it on DVD. I will see the next installment though!