Bilbo Baggins is swept into a quest to reclaim the lost Dwarf Kingdom of Erebor from the fearsome dragon Smaug. Approached out of the blue by the wizard Gandalf the Grey, Bilbo finds himself joining a company of thirteen dwarves led by the legendary warrior, Thorin Oakenshield. Their journey will take them into the Wild; through treacherous lands swarming with Goblins and Orcs, deadly Wargs and Giant Spiders, Shapeshifters and Sorcerers. Although their goal lies to the East and the wastelands of the Lonely Mountain first they must escape the goblin tunnels, where Bilbo meets the creature that will change his life forever ... Gollum. Here, alone with Gollum, on the shores of an underground lake, the unassuming Bilbo Baggins not only discovers depths of guile and courage that surprise even him, he also gains possession of Gollum's "precious" ring that holds unexpected and useful qualities ... A simple, gold ring that is tied to the fate of all Middle-earth in ways Bilbo cannot begin to ... Written by
There are no curves or circles in Dwarvish architecture, and most objects of Dwarvish origin are polygonal. This also is evident in the Dwarvish script which appears on the map of the Lonely Mountain. See more »
Gandalf's contacts are visible in close-up shots, particularly scenes around the table at Bilbo's. See more »
My dear Frodo, you asked me once if I had told you everything there was to know about my adventures. And while I can honestly say I've told you the truth, I may not have told you all of it. I am old, Frodo. I am not the same hobbit as I once was. It is time for you to know what really happened.
See more »
The MGM logo starts with an extreme close up of the lion's eye, and then zooms out to the full logo. See more »
About a decade ago, Peter Jackson concluded his film adaptation of J. R. R. Tolkien's Lord of the Rings trilogy and swept the awards with "The Return of the King". Since then, Jackson has only had a couple of directing gigs, including his lackluster remake of the classic "King Kong." And only one piece of the LOTR saga remains for him to tap into. Tolkien's novel "The Hobbit" isn't just a prequel chronologically. Tolkien actually wrote and published it almost twenty years before what would be considered the first book of the LOTR trilogy. While the books in the trilogy were epic fantasies that dug deep into the lore, the prequel was a light-hearted romp, a first footstep into a Middle Earth still taking shape in Tolkien's imagination. It was also a short romp, only a fraction of the length of any of the sequels. So, while fans clamored for the Extended Cuts of Jackson's original trilogy a decade ago, eating up the scenes that couldn't make it into the three-hour theatrical cuts, there's not much excuse to turn "The Hobbit" into a trilogy of its own.
The movie starts by bridging the gap between "The Hobbit" and LOTR by reintroducing Ian Holm as Bilbo Baggins. Bilbo says he will now tell the story of his greatest adventure, and then spends several minutes relating the entire history of the dwarfs to the audience before finally picking up where Tolkien chose to start, "In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit." (Since the book was in third-person, and the movie adds a first-person narrator, the line now seems a little pretentious.) And then, instead of diving into the story, Elijah Wood wastes a few minutes of screen time with a completely unnecessary cameo as Frodo. Only then do we finally get to meet the young Bilbo, played by Martin Freeman, and reunite with Gandalf, played again by Ian McKellan.
Martin Freeman has a talent for being the everyday man who is always agitated by everyone around him, from Arthur Dent in "The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy" to Watson in "Sherlock." And playing homebody Bilbo gives him a great opportunity to roll his eyes and look perplexed by the 12-dwarf army he finds himself surrounded by. We meet each dwarf as they barge, one at a time, through Bilbo's front door, and then insist on singing an uninspired musical number for about two minutes as they wash Bilbo's dishes. When it's not dwarfs, it's the McKellen, Hugo Weaving, Cate Blanchett, or Christopher Lee characters from Jacksons' earlier trilogy pushing Freeman's Hobbit to the background. Instead of showing the same reverence to the source material that made Jackson's earlier trilogy so successful, here he ignores Tolkien's main plot and instead pads the movie with a subplot involving Radagast the Brown, a character taken from elsewhere in Tolkien's writings who has no place in "The Hobbit", and a Necromancer, and another one involving an albino orc pursuing the dwarf leader, in order to give the new trilogy a central antagonist. Where the novel was all about Bilbo's surprising resourcefulness, more emphasis is placed on sword and axe clashes between the dwarfs and the orcs.
Also, most of the light-heartedness of the novel has been leached out in favor of making the movie feel more like an extension of the original trilogy. While the movie is brighter and more colorful then the previous films, this just has the surprising effect of making the movie feel like one of those sequels the original director palmed off to someone else after he lost interest in the franchise, even though Jackson is still at the helm. There are some weak attempts at humor, but rather than Tolkien's wit, the biggest laughs come from unintentional comedy from the terrible acting and writing (disappointing, since one of the co-writers this time is Guillermo del Toro, who's better than this) behind lines like "After sickness, bad things happen" or "If there's a key, there's a door."
Like the previous trilogy, most of the visuals are a cross between New Zealand landscapes and CGI special effects. Peter Jackson makes the same mistake he did with "King Kong", assuming the computer-heavy effects are as impressive now as they were the first time we saw them in LOTR. Even the rain is disappointingly animated, noticeably leaving all of the actor's faces completely dry. A scene involving the dwarfs running in single-file and decapitating goblins feels dull and hollow. There is one scene worth raving about, a riddle contest between Bilbo and Gollum in a dark pit. Not only does Andy Serkis, through voice work and motion capture, remind us that he should have won an Academy Award for the role he's still great at, but the scene finally gives Martin Freeman a moment to shine. Considering they decided to tell the story through Bilbo's perspective, it's surprising that this is the one scene that really gives the title character a central role.
At the risk of sounding like one of those snobs who always complains that the book is better, in the time it will take to watch what is sure to be a 9-hour trilogy, you could probably read Tolkien's entire book, and be much more entertained doing so.
146 of 282 people found this review helpful.
Was this review helpful to you?