I am an unabashed fan of Peter Jackson’s work on The Lord of the Rings as well as the novels upon which they were based. I loved them, and felt they captured the same things my own imagination did when I read the books. As far as genre films go, I can’t think of many I like so much. The Hobbit films took a kind of strange path going through some staff and rights issues before reason won the day and Peter Jackson was named director. The somewhat more troubling thing is that in the Quest for More Money (thanks Spaceballs) a decision was made to split The Hobbit into three separate movies. That feels like a stretch, since the Hobbit was shorter than any one of the novels that comprise the Lord of the Rings. Anyway, I don’t care, gimme more more more. I’m a little worried about this one, but excited as hell anyway.
Yeah, it was probably a little overlong. Peter Jackson’s The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey is an excellent fantasy movie that has a few flaws that keep it from being as great as its forebears. The biggest issue it has is that’s basically an extended edition. For a guy like me, that’s not so bad, but for a general audience some of these scenes have to feel very tacked on. That said, it’s a beautiful movie that’s just as fun at times as the Lord of the Rings film.
You have here just about everything you need for a fun fantasy film. Thirteen Dwarves with ridiculous headgear, a strange wizard, and a kindly hobbit who’s barely been out of his yard on one side of the ledger. On the other a giant dragon who stole the Dwarves’ home, some warg riders, plus the general peril of the road. The Hobbit uses these (well not the dragon, much) to great effect. The action is very good– though quite a bit more lighthearted than Lord of the Rings– and usually pretty exciting. There’s also a fair amount of lighthearted humor throughout. The biggest difference is in tone as the source material was a children’s book.
There will be some challenges for some audience members. The movie takes a long time to get going… There’s a lot of Dwarvish singing, so if that’s not your thing, be weary. The bigger issue is with pacing. They have added quite a lot to the basic plot of the novel, to create backstory and lend a measure of grandness that the source material largely lacked. Some of these changes work pretty well, but others really feel tacked on and add detail where none was necessary.
I’ve conceded that I went into The Hobbit heavily biased, and I did like the movie. It’s probably not as good as any of the Lord of the Rings movies, but I didn’t care. I had a lot of fun, and was able to enjoy most of the added content. I do feel that the movie needed a better edit as I think it could have been a better movie if it was thirty minutes shorter. To be fair, some of the added scenes could be set up for what will happen in the rest of the trilogy, and will make more sense when we can see the rest of the movies.
3 1/2 Stars.