It was always going to come under great scrutiny following the multi-million success of Peter Jackson’s “Lord of The Rings” Trilogy (LOTR). Indeed there was a time when it seemed like the adaptation of Tolkien’s LOTR prequel might never be made; with multiple changes at the helm, including Guillermo Del Toro, Peter Jackson finally gave in and took over the project.
And let’s just say as a huge fan of the book since I first read it as a five year old, 22 years ago, I had high expectations. Although with no shortage of negative reviews, there was a lot of moaning about the new 48 frames per second format, especially considering in the end only 461 cinemas of the 4,045 showing the film actually screened it in that format. Despite all of this, plus my fans worry that it wouldn’t be exactly as it should be, I went along and I was anything but disappointed. In fact I would go so far as to say this is my film of the year. Issues there may have been but this is not at all obvious in the films entire three hours and 10 minutes playing time.
Once again Jackson uses panoramic shots of New Zealand’s incredible landscape to capture the epic world of Middle Earth. The script has been written surely, with fans of the book in mind including a great deal of the novel’s original text including the Dwarfen song, ‘That’s What Bilbo Baggins Hates.’
You can occasionally see influence from Del Toro such as with the Elven King Thranduil (Lee Pace) who portrays a cold and sinister figure not unlike that of the character’s in the directors 2006 film, Pan’s Labyrinth. The casting in this film is inspired. Richard Armitage is perfect as the brooding and lightly arrogant, but ultimately honourable Dwarfen Prince, Thorin Oakenshield, whilst Martin Freeman portrays the unsure and out of place among the party, young Bilbo Baggins. Andy Serkis once again proves why he is the king of CGI character acting as he returns as the childishly amusing but disturbed Gollum playing a riddles game with the aforementioned Baggins. The Prize? Bilbo for his next meal, or Bilbo’s freedom, depending on who wins the game. I love the soundtrack too, once again penned by Howard Shore, incorporating recognisable sounds from the LOTR soundtrack, with the Dwarfen inspired tracks from the new release.
I overheard some moans about it being ‘silly’ or ‘Light-hearted’ in places, but in actual fact that is a tribute to Jackson’s determination to remain true to the original novel, rather than being a failure on his part, as “The Hobbit,” was originally written as a children’s novel. Personally I think it’s a triumph. And obviously so too, do the audiences with it grossing a huge $200 million in its opening weekend. So it seems that :”The Hobbit” may in fact become more successful than its screen predecessor.