“The Hobbit” is the only book that I read in one sitting. I was about thirteen and it enslaved my imagination.
I decided not to reacquaint myself with it again before going to see director Peter Jackson’s prequel to his “Lord of the Rings” epics. The fact that he had decided to make another trilogy out of a much shorter book would inevitably lead to liberties being taken with the story.
The second the first scene had begun I knew I had made the right choice as Jackson has decided to blend this prequel trilogy into his “Lord of the Rings” epics so that all six movies can be watched as one.
With the first of many inaccuracies out of the way I turned off my memory of the book (surprisingly fresh for one of nearly thirty years ago) and made a decision to enjoy it anyway.
The spirit, feel and atmosphere of the previous trilogy remain, we are right back in Middle Earth, we are back in the The Shire and Rivendell and we meet familiar characters like Gandalf, Hobbits, Dwarves and a few new nasty looking beasties.
Jackson has pulled some cutting edge tricks out of his bag that to enhance this part of the story. The ‘hand held’ element to the camera work places you even deeper within the action scenes to an almost dizzying degree. He has even managed to increase the sense of depth to the new places we visit in Middle Earth. We are treated to a more intimate tour of The Shire and Rivendell.
Martin Freeman, as the young Bilbo Baggins, has that polite nervousness which suits the character perfectly. Ian McKellan slips back into the role of Gandalf like he is putting on an old glove. The 13 Dwarves are a mixture of comedic, stupid and serious characters. Sylvester McCoy turns up in a sweet role as Radagast, the Brown, another wizard with an almost Disney-princess-like affinity with the forest, though this is another element which is expanded from the original text. There are some disgusting new evil creatures to contend with, one, in particular, which must go down as bearing the most tremendous dewlap in cinematic history to date. But the highlight of the movie was, of course, Bilbo’s encounter with Gollum.
The audience laughed more than I remember from the original trilogy which suits my memory of the book. It was a lighter tone to that of “Lord of the Rings”. Also, they gave a warm welcome to the well-known characters from the original trilogy as they appeared on the screen.
Despite all of this I was not as enthralled as I was with any of the “Lord of the Rings” trilogy. I don’t remember “The Hobbit” being such an epic. Besides that it was slow to begin and, as I had anticipated, it did feel a little stretched. Though the moments where I felt my attention waning were short lived as Jackson surefootedly kept me entertained most of the way through.