The Hobbit was the first book I ever really read. And I loved it so much I read it all on one summer day in 1983. To this day I have fond memories of checking it out from the book mobile, waking home with it, and sitting by the pool all day reading.
Obviously it turned me onto The Lord of the Rings, and the rest is history. Needless to say, I was anxious to see this movie.
The Hobbit is not like any of the books in the LOTR trilogy. It is a much more light hearted book, intended for a much younger audience. In some places, it is very silly. It really isn’t even a true prequel to the LOTR series. It is sort of a sideways prequel. As it is short. Like I mentioned, you can read it in one sitting.
These facts are what made me nervous when I heard that the book was being made into three movies. There really isn’t that much there to pull from. Now that I have seen the film, I see what they are doing…and I am on the fence about it.
When writing his epic, Tolkien crafted an elaborate world with a deep history of its own. He wrote volumes of back story in the appendices of The Lord of the Rings, as well as various other books documenting the history of Middle Earth. From what I can tell, the movie makers have mined this information heavily in order to make these movies more of a prequel trilogy to the movie trilogy. There are characters from the original films that have major parts here weren’t even mentioned in The Hobbit to bridge the trilogies. They are injecting things that flesh out the LOTR movies more, and that sometimes over burdens the film.
Again, The Hobbit is a lot more light hearted story than the LOTR books, and the movie tries to keep that light hearted nature, but I felt like it was unbalanced with the ominous foreshadowing of that is to come. In some places it went from slapstick to pathos in one scene.
Bilbo becomes an after thought for most of the film. And had I not read the book, I would have known the other dwarves at all. They are sorta left on the back burner too. This story is all about setting up The Lord of the Rings. I just feel like they jammed too much stuff in and forgot the fun of the book. And like the LOTR movies, they don’t follow the exact order of the original book. Sequences are placed inline with the overall tale.
That all being said, I liked it. Taken as a prequel to the LOTR movies, it is awesome. And if I put it up against another prequel opening film, it’s LIGHTS OUT. ( I am looking at you, Phantom Menace). It is a fun, if slow at times, film. The good thing about the book being so short and making such long films, is that the film is able to hit every note from the Hobbit. Down to the dialogue coming straight from the book.
The final hour is the best of film, with it hitting the same riffs of the end of Fellowship, even down to the camera shots. Riddles in the Dark was spot on, and one of my favorite moments in the film. Gollum is perfect….and it was fun to see him on screen again. He is also a little funnier this time around.
It’s good…not as great as I wanted it to be. My hope is this film will feel better with me after I see the next two. However, I didn’t walk out of The Fellowship of the Ring feeling this way.
FOR THOSE WONDERING: this film ends with Out of the Frying Pan, Into the Fire.