The Hobbit

hobbit-andy-serkis-gollum

2012

Directed by Peter Jackson – Written by Fran Walsh, Philippa Boyens, Peter Jackson & Guillermo Del Toro

Starring: Ian McKellen, Martin Freeman, Richard Armitage and Andy Serkis

It’s been a long time coming. Stuck in production hell for a good few years as well as numerous delays and troubles, The Hobbit is finally here and the first thing I have to say about it is don’t expect the calibre of the Lord Of The Rings trilogy. They are similar films being set in the same world and featuring some of the same characters but this is a different story made before that and not as sprawling or epic.

Being a fan of the book and LOTR, I have been looking forward to this a lot. I understand not everything will fit, or even need to be in, but there are some omissions from the story (only small) that I was disappointed about. However, considering the film is not only being extracted from The Hobbit book, but also the numerous appendices and history of Middle Earth, does mean the film is very well padded out and stretched in terms of story except for a very heavy handed opening with Bilbo, looking back at his adventures as a way to let us see some of the cast from LOTR and understand where this fits in chronologically. It doesn’t truly serve the purpose of the story as the audience will know this came before due to a younger Bilbo and the fact that he doesn’t actually have the ring yet. However, it does allow there to be an action prologue explaining the dwarves’ history before this film. We are introduced to Smaug in only fleeting glimpses and it leaves us wanting more of him as he is the MacGuffin of this film; driving the plot forward yet not overtaking the story allowing exposition much more for the dwarves we meet early in the film but being thirteen of them it is difficult for many of them to come off as more than mere two dimensional characters.

Richard Armitage stands out particularly as Thorin, not solely because he is given the most character development but he manages to show the emotions that channel through a very headstrong person. Martin Freeman as Bilbo is inspired casting, it is difficult to imagine anyone but him as he is thrown in the deepest end before finding his feet to cope.

It is Bilbo who gets the best scene in the film with ‘Riddles in the Dark’ as Gollum triumphantly returns with the fantastic Andy Serkis, who surely pushes more boundaries with each facial tick and wheezing cough. The scene works incredibly well staging the two against each other and it is interesting watching a scene where Gollum feels like he is in control. It even has a visual reference to Fellowship that doesn’t feel forced but fits nicely as well as a moment of foreshadowing the future of middle earth.

The end of the film also feels natural which can be a problem in part 1 as character arcs are completed in sense for now and we are left looking off into the distance at their destination. There is a treat in the last shot that leaves you wanting more and wishing the next film to come sooner.

Once you get past the heavy handed opening and the plentiful exposition the film is a joy. It is epic in a different way and it works for it. All I can suggest when preparing to watch this is do not expect LOTR as you will be disappointed. Apart from that it was everything I hoped for.

9/10

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