The Gist: The prequel to the epic Lord of the Rings trilogy introduces us to a young Bilbo Baggins and takes us on the journey to the discovery of the one ring. Bilbo is an ordinary hobbit whose world is turned upside down when Gandalf the wizard arrives with 13 dwarves, led by the Dwarven Prince Thorin Oakeshield, to take him on an adventure to reclaim the Lonely Mountain (proper name?) from the dragon Smaug.
Hobbit, Dwarves & Tall Folks: Ian McKellen (Gandalf), Martin Freeman (Bilbo), Richard Armitage (Thorin), Ken Stott (Balin), Aidan Turner (Kili), Dean O’Gorman (Fili), Hugo Weaving (Elrond), Christopher Lee (Saruman), Cate Blanchett (Galadriel)
My Take: I was really looking forward to this movie and returning to the world of Middle Earth but I started to get concerned after reading reviews that didn’t rave about it. I like to keep an open mind and went in with little scepticism and the result – it was alright.
One of the things that I found boring in the extended Fellowship of the Ring was the amount of time spent introducing the hobbits and in The Shire. The Hobbit suffers from this as well, with the first 30ish minutes spent with old Bilbo and Frodo, then jumping to Bilbo 60 years earlier meeting Galdalf and the arrival of the dwarfs. My first impression of the dwarfs was comic relief and I didn’t like it. The whole sequence was dull and I was immediately disappointed however once it got going the flick improved but it was still lacking. There was a dichotomy between the struggle of being a movie that plays to kids and an action fantasy flick. At some points it was humourous and juvenile such as the trolls and the goblins when the dwarfs are separated from Bilbo in the cave; the goblins weren’t scary and they were played as if for children. The addition of the Radagast stuff could have been shortened with only showing his following the spiders to the eleven ruins and encountering the necromancer and the witch king. And one last complaint, the white orc Azog the Defiler looked very cartoony, especially in the first scene he was in. Overall, the orcs and goblins were not scary looking with the exception of Azog’s minions but they were not in it very much. Golem was great again and his game of riddles with Bilbo was entertaining.
The story is what it is – it’s The Hobbit. Nothing new or overly interesting. Tolkien was the master of creating unique and wonderous worlds and his own languages and that is something to be appreciated. I just don’t find hobbits very interesting. The acting is good with great performances by Martin Freeman and Richard Armitage.
Yah or Nah: Aside from my criticism of the flick being more kid oriented and my distaste for singing dwarfs and goblins, this was a good movie. It doesn’t live up to the Lord of the Rings trilogy but it is nice to return to that world. I hope with the next movies that they move away from the silly looking goblins and comic relief aspect of some of the players and move more to a serious tone. The flick seemed to contain more story than was necessary and it came off as a bid to be able to cut the story of The Hobbit into 3 movies over 3 years. It worked well for LOTR but I don’t think The Hobbit warrants 3 movies.