Director: Peter Jackson
Stars: Martin Freeman, Ian McKellan, Richard Armitage
Its been a while since The Hobbit was released and now that the dust has settled it’s time for me to cast my critical eye of Sauron over it. So to sum up the film – it’s OK. And in my opinion OK just isn’t good enough for a follow-up to The Lord of the Rings saga.
If you haven’t read The Hobbit, it’s set before LOTR and tells the simple tale of Bilbo Baggins, a hobbit who goes on an adventure with a load of dwarves and a wizard. That’s it. It’s 310 pages long and consists of a sweet, funny, story of a group of characters who go to fight a dragon and get treasure.
This, however isn’t enough for Peter Jackson and the writers. Jackson managed to stretch the story of a giant gorilla on the loose into three and a half hours so imagine what he does with this. I don’t want to be that annoying guy who goes on about how the film deviates from the book but in this case it affects in in big ways. The movie introduces characters that aren’t in the book including a new villain called Azog the Defiler (coincidentally the name i used in my short lived porn career) who doesn’t like the dwarves too much, there are scenes that were only hinted at by the book, and there’s loads of exposition attempting to tie it into the LOTR saga.
The new additions though aren’t what bog the movie down. What stops it being special is all of the similarities to LOTR. It uses a lot of the same musical cues, some of the same jokes, and even many locations used in the trilogy. It produces a kind of deja vu which at the same time reminds you of the films you liked much better.
Apart from all that there’s a lot to enjoy about The Hobbit. Martin Freeman is well cast as Bilbo Baggins, the dwarves are great fun, and Gollum makes a fantastic appearance. It’s the parts that were actually in the book that work best and the extra stuff Jackson has added that detract from it. These scenes mostly involve boring elves sitting around talking when what you really want to see is the Bilbo and co. getting into scrapes on their journey to The Lonely Mountain.
We could spend all day discussing why the story has been split into three parts. The cynical might suggest it’s to maximise profits, others might think there’s enough material there to support a trilogy but I think the motivating factor was the writers not having enough respect for the original story. It’s as though they consider it lightweight or childish and want to make it darker and create more of a threat to the characters. The book has endured all these years for a reason – it’s a great story that’s separate from LOTR and lumping on too much violence and horror detracts from the tone of the tale.
When Jackson let’s the central story play out it’s an extremely enjoyable movie full of action and jokes and beautiful scenery. If the next film in the series can distance itself from LOTR and realize what it is we love about The Hobbit then maybe Jackson can produce something that’s true to Tolkien’s fantasy tale.
Do you agree with this? What are you hoping for from the next film? Who’s your favourite dwarf? Let me know below.