Posted by: greercn | December 21, 2012

The Hobbit

There are joys and pleasures here that will cheer up those who love the “Lord of the Rings” movies. Peter Jackson directs a sweeping epic prequel that features fabulous 3D and amazing battles.

We are back in time to the ordinary Hobbit life of Bilbo Baggins. Gandalf the Wizard drags him off with 13 dwarves – no, don’t think about Snow White – to go on an awfully big adventure full of lots of magical creatures.

The purpose is to reclaim the lost Dwarf Kingdom which has been stolen by Orcs after an attack by the Dragon, Smaug.

Orc language sounds a little like Klingon. Gollum has a Dobby quality. And Gandalf and Galadriel are clearly a whole lot older than they were in those “Lord of the Rings” movies, which is odd in a prequel.

There are attempts here to make this relevant to a much younger audience than the “Rings” trilogy aimed at. The dwarf gang and the way they take over Bilbo’s home is just one of many very funny scenes. The film succeeds in mixing up ancient and mythological ideas with the very modern and, yet, the pacing pays loving homage to the book.

Tolkien’s book subtitle was “There and Back Again” and that’s been changed to “An Unexpected Journey”. Maybe that is to add an element of suspense, so the viewer won’t know whether Bilbo gets home or not?

Martin Freeman brings wide-eyed innocence and outrage to his turn as Bilbo and Ian McKellen reprises Gandalf with style and control. Richard Armitage as Thorin, the Dwarf King and Christopher Lee as wizard Saruman are terrific. Sylvester McCoy, a former Doctor Who, has super scenes as Radagast.

“The Hobbit” wizards are all a little more Harry Potter than Tolkien, but they are all great to watch.

It’s the creatures that grab the eye. Smaug the dragon, tiny butterflies, big flying creatures and that gold ring all vie with Gollum for pure visual inventiveness.

The 3D and the music enhance the other-worldly sense.

Yes, the trolls reminded me of “Troll Hunter” and there are some very lengthy and slow sections of the whopping 169-minute runnung time.

For me, these books are always stuck being the stuff I had to read in Grade 7. Having to keep all those different creatures separate and remembered for class tests and essays took the joy out of them.

But it’s wonderful to look at and thoroughly enjoyable. The audience at the Stratford Picturehouse was uncharacteristically silent and paid attention throughout. I think it’s much more accessible than the “Rings” films and just gentler, overall.

Tourism to New Zealand will see increased numbers of visitors.



  1. I really liked it. Yes, it could have been an hour shorter, but I enjoy Tolkein’s world, and liked that there was a little more depth given to it. I imagine that if I were a parent with a squadron of five year olds, it’s too long. But I’m not, and I really enjoyed it.

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