I finally had the opportunity to sit down for three hours and watch The Hobbit over the weekend, and I must say that as overused as the word “epic” is…there really is no other descriptor for a movie of the beauty, scale and scope Peter Jackson’s latest foray into the world of Middle Earth. Now, before I get into the meat of my review I have to admit that I have never actually read The Hobbit, which leaves me at a slight disadvantage when looking at the movie from a book-to-film perspective. While I did read the Lord of the Rings Trilogy, The Hobbit just never crossed my path at the right time, however, having read the magnum opus I feel confident in Jackson’s ability to translate the words of Tolkien’s imagination into plausible and magnificent worlds (even if they aren’t the exact images I might have had….though sometimes they are).
These movies start slow, and indeed keep a regulated pace throughout their entire run time and they are visually stunning in every regard, the slow pace and dramatic exposition that is typical and symptomatic of fantasy word may be more than a little disengaging for borderline or non-nerds who haven’t the spirit or attention span for full immersion in such fanciful imaginary worlds. That is certainly a heavy criticism of Jackson’s original Trilogy and a mild one at least for the first installment of the Hobbit movies. One thing that the Hobbit has in loads more than perhaps the entirety of the original LotR series is humor. Certainly, the novel is also a bit more lighthearted…though I haven’t read it…I can assume this due to the classification of the source material as Children’s Literature rather than out-and-out sword-and-sorcery or Fantasy. There is more whimsy in the world of Middle Earth because, I’ll assume, while there is a dragon to slay the impending doom of Sauron and Mordor are not yet nigh; the apocalypse is not a-knockng at the door and so there is more time for some slapstick and whimsy.
The action scenes in the movie are nothing short of stunning and compelling, and the climactic scene of the Company of Thorin Oakensheild battling the goblins is a marvelous roller coaster of magical action and…well…RPG cut scene excitement. And properly so I suppose as Tolkein inspired the entire Role Playing Game Genre as we know it. Though, to be fair while I was watching it I still wondered the age old questions about Gandalf: why does he leave just to save the day, why doesn’t he keep those eagles with him all the time, would he make better plans if he put down the weed for a minute? Unfortunately, those answers SHALL NOT PASS and we will be left with just those questions…forevermore.
Fans of the Lord of the Rings Trilogy will be glad to see that all necessary actors returned to reprise their roles…either as major players or just for brisk moments where their character was required. Though, making some of the actors and actresses look ten years younger can be somewhat distracting (especially in the case of a somewhat thinner of face and airbrushed Elijiah Wood) it isn’t overbearingly so. The movie manages to keep consistently with the visuals of the previous films but also broaden them remarkably and, as always, Jackson calls on his experience as a horror director to inform his choices on what to show, and what to leave to the imagination brilliantly.
If you are looking for a wonderfully fun, though admittedly long and occasionally flat, adventure check out the first installment of the Hobbit on either iTunes, Pay Per View, DVD, or wherever you get your movies these days. It’ll be there. It was kind of a big deal…and for good reason. While the movie is epic as epic as its relatives it manages to have a great deal of smiles in it as well. Check it out.
Written by: Brandon Melendez