The Good: Acting is fine, Plot develops fine, Special effects
The Bad: Unremarkable plot, Reversals, Ridiculously low character development
The Basics: The Hobbit Trilogy is not Peter Jackson’s crowning achievement as it dilutes the magnificence of his The Lord Of The Rings Trilogy.
When New Line and MGM decided to make The Hobbit, I was one of the people who was exceptionally happy when Guillermo Del Toro was replaced with Peter Jackson. Peter Jackson did an incredible job at adapting J.R.R. Tolkein’s novels to make his cinematic The Lord Of The Rings Trilogy (reviewed here!). Unfortunately, Jackson was unable to get lightning to strike twice by making The Hobbit Trilogy equally memorable and impressive.
The Hobbit Trilogy is a surprisingly uncomplicated film series that is a prequel to The Lord Of The Rings. The film collection for The Hobbit consists of:
An Unexpected Journey
The Desolation Of Smaug
The Battle Of The Five Armies
The Hobbit Trilogy is set in Middle Earth and is set well before The Lord Of The Rings Trilogy and includes important elements that lead into the Trilogy Jackson produced a decade prior. As Middle Earth darkens from the emerging presence of Sauron, the wizard Gandalf The Grey visits Hobbiton. There, he enlists the restless hobbit, Bilbo, to join a company of dwarves that is headed to the ruined dwarven city of Erebor. Bilbo is hired to be the company’s burglar, which Gandalf and Thorin Oakenshield – the leader of the company and the presumptive king of the dwarves – believe they will need as Erebor is under the oppressive control of the dragon Smaug. Setting out from Hobbiton, the company of dwarves runs afoul of trolls, orcs and immense spiders which all threaten their chances of getting to Erebor. In the kingdom of the goblins, underground, Bilbo is separated from the dwarves and he encounters Gollum, a creature whom he exchanges riddles with. He escapes thanks to finding a ring of invisibility by chance.
The company escapes into the realm of the Elves, who distrust the dwarves. Once the Dwarves arrive at the Lonely Mountain, they find the Dwarven Nation impossible to enter, until Bilbo figures out how to find the secret door. Entering the mountain realm, Bilbo squares off against Smaug. In doing so, Bilbo inadvertently enrages the dragon and it goes out and destroys the nearby human city of Laketown. With Smaug no longer looking over the mountains of treasures in the Dwarven Nation, the humans, orcs, and elves descend upon the Lonely Mountain to take the gold. But the company is beset from within by Thorin, who has become obsessed with the treasure and the mythical Arkenstone which will solidify his claim to the dwarven throne.
The Hobbit is a very straightforward quest story and after witnessing the quest to destroy the source of all evil in Middle Earth, there is something incredibly underwhelming about a story that eventually gets around to being about one man’s obsession. Thorin Oakenshield is determined until late in the story when he becomes absolutely obsessed with hoarding the same riches that Smaug accumulated. Unlike the One Ring, which is fueled by Sauron’s evil, the mountain of gold has no supernatural reason for the obsession it brings to Thorin, Smaug, and all the others who covet it.
The company of dwarves is surprisingly large – a dozen strong – but only three of them are actually distinct. Thorin, the aged Balin and the young, elf-loving Kili are the dwarves with substantive characters. The rest are just filler and that makes it hard to invest in the bulk of the company.
The Hobbit features Martin Freeman as Bilbo and the role is unlike any of his other parts. He is not at all goofy, not regulated to simply supporting another, more forceful actor. Instead, he perfectly embodies Bilbo Baggins. Bilbo is clever and ethical. He has the heart of an explorer from a people who usually want to simply be left alone and Freeman finds the balance incredibly well.
Director Peter Jackson makes Middle Earth look as amazing as he did in The Lord Of The Rings. The story of The Hobbit might not be exceptional, but the look and feel of it is consistent with the rest of Jackson’s Middle Earth Saga. As a result, The Hobbit stands as a testament that style cannot sell an inferior story that lacks impressive characters.
For other works with Martin Freeman, please check out my reviews of:
The World’s End
The Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy
For other movie reviews, please check out my Film Review Index Page for an organized listing!
© 2015 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.
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