From the smallest beginnings come the greatest legends.
Running Time: 169 minutes
US Certificate: PG-13 UK Certificate: 12A
Country: New Zealand (Aotearoa), United States
The good thing about Tolkien’s novel The Hobbit, is that it is more accessible to the casual fantasy reader and a much more compact, efficiently-told story. There’s something about stretching this classic, couple of hundred page book over a three-film series that will probably push nine hours of screen time that will ruin this for many. It just seems like an over-indulgent, money-making scheme.
Peter Jackson’s adaptation follows a young (by Hobbit standards) Bilbo Baggins (Freeman) who’s whisked away on a great adventure against his will when Gandalf the wizard (McKellen) and a group of raucous dwarves turn up at his house one day. Curious, he joins them as they journey to the lonely mountain to get back their gold and lost underground kingdom from Smaug the dragon. Well, the first bit happens in this part and the rest will happen later.
The Hobbit really is a continuation of The Lord of The Rings there’s the same music and characters, very similar scenes and lots of running over hills. Another six hours of this and the thought that one day someone will probably try and get me to watch all LOTR and TH movies back-to-back, is just daunting. It feels like Jackson is trying to wring every drop out the book as the prolonged Rivendell scene is quite painful and the inserted giant’s fight just looks ridiculous. It’s also quite hard to root very anyone as the regionally voiced dwarves are all quite alike and Bilbo, played spot on by Martin Freeman, is true to the book but at this stage not a likeable lead.
Don’t get me wrong, The Hobbit is not a bad film as there still lots of great action, it looks good (except for the 48 frames per second filming sometimes takes a bit of realism from any fast movement) and in the long run there is an interesting story to be told. Gollum (Serkis) is the best we’ve ever seen him in the entertaining riddle scene and there are enough amusing bits to keep it lighthearted.
Just don’t go into the cinema with high hopes (or dressed as Gandalf) and you’ll be satisfied, if not bowled over.
It's Got: Pretty poor new bits and characters (Sebastian the hedgehog anyone?), decent action once it gets up and running, great performances from Andy Serkis and Martin Freeman
It Needs: A bit more urgency, two less films in the series, more personality to show through with the dwarves
An expected minor letdown as the first part shows that Peter Jackson should have just stuck to one (or two at most) epic length movies not three. Not bad but a little underwhelming.