Film: The Hobbit
Director: Peter Jackson
Stars: Martin Freeman, Ian McKellen, Richard Armitage, Andy Serkis, James Nesbitt, Cate Blanchett, Hugo Weaving, Ian Holm, Elijah Wood, Sylvester McCoy, Christopher Lee
A younger and more reluctant Hobbit, Bilbo Baggins, sets out on a “unexpected journey” to the Lonely Mountain with a spirited group of Dwarves to reclaim a their stolen mountain home from a dragon named Smaug.
What I thought of it:
Let me start by saying, I love The Lord of the Rings trilogy directed by Peter Jackson, so I was delighted when I heard he’d be making films from the prequel, The Hobbit, but also expected great things. As a result, the standard was set high long before I sat down to watch the film, and the trailers were so good that I couldn’t help but be excited, despite being dubious about it being spread over three films when the book isn’t even as long as one of The Lord of the Rings novels.
It all looks beautiful. From start to finish, we have the sweeping landscapes, cozy Hobbit holes, treacherous mountains, often with the characters visiting the same locations as we have seen before in the films set after these, which was wonderful. We also have the guest starring appearances of Wood and Holm as Frodo and the elderly Bilbo to lead us into the tale, which set the scene perfectly. Add to that the familiar faces of McKellan, Blanchett, Weaving and Lee, and we have a feeling that we are fully embedded in Middle Earth, and we can fully accept Freeman as the younger Bilbo as he manages to move and sound eerily like his older version – he has it down to a tee.
The story is familiar to millions, whether or not they have read the novel, so there is likely to be little in the way of surprises unless one is coming to it completely fresh, but if this is the case with you, the familiarity will take second place to the stunning visuals and superb acting. There’s also a delightfully fun turn from McCoy as Radagast the Brown, which I get the feeling people will either love or hate. And of course, we have Serkis, the undisputed King of motion capture, returning as Gollum – let’s face it, nobody else could do justice to that vile creature and present him as both fearsome and sadly pathetic at the same time.
Finally, what we’re all waiting for, Smaug. I am so pleased we never see him fully revealed in this opening chapter, but instead get only tantalising glimpses of a claw here, the tip of the tail there – it’s reeling us in for the next installment.
My only worry is that telling the story over three films might stretch the plot a little too thin. I certainly felt that this could easily have been presented in far less than the 169 minutes of screen time we have without losing anything of importance, and wonder if the original idea of two films might have been a wiser choice. That said, drawn out as it is, this is a sumptuous and highly enjoyable film and a must-see for Tolkien fans.
Be swept away by the adventure!