The Hobbit, based on J R R Tolkien’s children’s book of the same name, was finally released last week. There was inevitably always going to be comparisons between this film and The Lord of the Rings, as they originate from novels by the same author with one book essentially following on from the other, albeit years later, and now they have been filmed by the same director, Peter Jackson, who was always going to draw from his experiences of making The Lord of the Rings. The casting of certain characters who appear in both films is duplicated, making it even harder to separate one film from the other, most noticeably with Ian McKellen appearing as Gandalf. Jackson’s intention seems to be that ultimately the movies should be viewed alongside eachother as one lengthy experience. This will probably be appreciated by hardcore The Lord of the Rings fans, but less so by fans of ‘The Hobbit’ book, who may have preferred a more loyal adaptation.
The Hobbit has come under much criticism for its 48 frames per second style of filming. It has been said this is too fast and distracts from the enjoyment of the film. I can honestly say I don’t know what all the fuss is about. It wasn’t obviously different to any other film as far as I could tell, and no-one else in the cinema with me seemed to be complaining. I did see the 2d version though, so perhaps it’s more apparent and speedier in 3D.
My personal problem with The Hobbit is that it strays too far from the source material. Peter Jackson obviously wants it be viewed in the same way as The Lord of the Rings movies were, being divided into three separate films and with heavy battle content, but actually ‘The Hobbit’ is a completely different reading experience to ‘The Lord of the Rings’. It’s a relatively short book intended for the consumption of children and young adults. I couldn’t understand how there was even enough material to justify it being split into three movies. It seems in order to make it stretch across three movies, the director has added unneccessary and long drawn out battle scenes. Admittedly ‘The Hobbit’ is a book about adventures, and yes, there are battles, but it’s also a character driven book and I feel some characters were lost a little in the film, due to the excess battle scenes.
The one character fortunately who does translate to the film extremely well is Bilbo Baggins. Martin Freeman was perfectly cast in this role, and he captures Bilbo’s uptight self effacing manner brilliantly and with comedic effect. His initial attempts to rebuff the hungry dwarves who have come into his house and are eating all his food is very funny and sets him up as a character who is set in his ways and likes his own company above the company of others. However, his surprise turnaround and decision to take part in a dangerous adventure to help the dwarves regain their homeland shows he does have an adventurous side, even if it is generally quite well hidden. He seems to often regret his last minute decision to join the dangerous quest alongside Gandalf and the Dwarves, but there is obviously some strength of character that stops him from turning back and returning to the safety of his home in the shire.
I have stated the movie does seem to stray quite far from the source material, but it does include the book’s most memorable content, including Bilbo’s fight with the three giant Trolls, and Bilbo’s significant first meeting with Gollum where he first comes into contact with that famous gold ring. The scene with Gollum is done brilliantly and mangages to be both a humorous exchange and a frightening one, as Bilbo sees both the good and dark side of the eery creature Gollum. Although he does not know it at the time, this meeting is to change the course of his own life and the life of his closest relative Frodo.
Although I personally was disappointed by the dissimilarities of the movie The Hobbit to the book it originated from, it was still a very good movie. There was slightly too much action in my opinion which deflected from the great characters, but it certainly kept me engaged throughout, which is an impressive feat for an almost three hour movie.
Dir: Peter Jackson
Starring: Martin Freeman, Richard Armitage, Ian Mckellen
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