After a bum-numbing three hours in the cinema this afternoon, I can conclusively say that this movie will be loved by many people, providing they don't go in expecting another po-faced walkathon in Middle Earth. For while our characters start out on a walk from the Shire, walk to Rivendell, walk through an underground kingdom full of goblins, and get picked up by some Eagles at the end (75 Year-Old spoiler alert!) this is a decidedly different beast.
For one thing it's a lot funnier.
Much like the source material, The Hobbit
is a light hearted affair, with only a few hints at the rising darkness that will surely colour the other two films of this unexpected trilogy. The dwarves are not a particularly serious folk, Thorn Oakenshield apart, and when 90% of your cast (including the lead) are comic relief then you're going to get a certain levity of tone aren't you? It all works nicely, and there was only one moment where I could tell Peter Jackson wanted me to laugh but I didn't. Because I'm not 8 and a room full of burping dwarves is not really what I'm about any more
. Comic highlight for me is likely Sylvester McCoy's Radagast, birdshit hair and all, who makes even the films spookiest scene an unexpected journey to Dol Guldur
It's not all fun and games though, there are baddies galore here. Much like in Fellowship of the Ring Peter Jackson has given us a named orc to chase our heroes around. This time at least he picked a pre-existing character although Azog
is a fairly bland foe especially compared to Bert, Bill & Tom the trolls and The Great Goblin all of whom are brilliant. Also there's Gollum. I don't need to tell you good he is do I? Smaug and The Necromancer barely get a look in, but the looks we get are a nice taste of things to come.
Changes were made to give the story a sense of conclusion at the end, and to set up the sub-plots to come with The White Council in Mirkwood but neither felt too jarring. The prologue is a nice length and adds a bit of context the Dwarves quest and Radagast is a delight throughout. The best scenes are those left largely unaltered (Riddles in the dark, The Unexpected Party and the Trolls) but there remains one very compelling reason to trim some of this down and that's the epic running time. I can watch the LotR extended editions as often as I like, but they were kept to DVD because no way are kids going to be able to sit through that whole thing without getting itchy feet.
Yikes, long post.
TL;DR is that it's like a long funny version on Fellowship of the Ring and for that I loved it. More please.
(I saw it in 2D and 24fps, so don't ask me about the other stuff. Honestly it sounds like I got the better deal there.)