I sat through a 3D IMAX viewing of The Hobbit today, along with the extended preview of the new Star Trek movie. In the end, I found myself liking The Hobbit (three out of five stars) and loving the Star Trek preview.
I went in a bit excited. I had heard the hype about the new high speed filming technique though I must admit, I was a little strained at the concept of turning The Hobbit into a trilogy. My concerns were semi-justified. The Hobbit is a good movie – it’s just not great, which is a shame.
We all know that The Hobbit was intended as the enchanting prelude to the Lord of the Rings. Got it. But when Professor Tolkien penned the book, he made it stand alone. It was the journey of Bilbo Baggins who happened to find a magical ring that made him invisible. We saw Bilbo grow, overcoming his weaknesses, and becoming more of a character that was heroic.
We get that in the movie, but Peter Jackson has made this first film more of a prequel to the Lord of the Rings than was ever necessary. Yes, it adds to the story, and I’m sure the die hard fans of the Lord of the Rings movies will devour this addition to the original story as new canon. I didn’t. It seemed to draw me away from the real plot and story that the movie should be focused on – Bilbo’s journey.
When the movie focuses on the material from the book, it’s good. Jackson has added a lot of additional depth which I’m not convinced makes the story. The build-up of Thorin’s nemesis, the injured Orc king, while nice, detracts from the original story.
The battle in the Goblin King’s lair felt a little over-the-top to me. It felt like Jackson was trying to top his scenes from the Mines of Moria in The Fellowship of the Ring. But hey, there was a lot of action so I enjoyed it.
From a character standpoint, I got the dwarves confused. With a couple of exceptions, they didn’t come across as individual characters but as a merged group of characters. I’m hoping this will change in the coming movies.
We don’t get to see Smaug the dragon in this movie, not entirely. We get enough snippets to know one thing, he’s scary as all hell.
I’m not a purist to Tolkien’s texts, but The Hobbit holds a spot near and dear to me as a book I’ve read seven or more times in my life. The movie was good, but it could have been betting if it had stuck to the original book’s themes without the additions. Just my personal opinion. I’d say check out the movie, but go in prepared to see something more than the book. You will need to determine if that is a good thing or not.