Directed by Peter Jackson
Starring Martin Freeman, Cate Blanchett and Ian McKellen
When a mysterious wizard arrives at his door, Bilbo Baggins is uprooted from his snug Hobbit hole and thrown into an adventure of a lifetime. Flanked by 13 dwarves, the company embark upon a quest to regain their homeland from the dragon Smaug, all the while an ominous presence is starting to rear its head in Middle Earth.
The film opens in the sunnier days of the Shire we know and love. 48 frames per second bring an incredible amount of detail to an already rich scene from the offset; you can make out every leaf with dizzying clarity. It has to be said, as the film progresses there are more and more gratuitous 3D moments that really are pointless if you are watching it 2D or (in future) on DVD. However, The Hobbit is perhaps more beautiful and sharp than its predecessors, the scenes in Rivendell are breathtaking.
There is a certain amount of nostalgia in The Hobbit which is natural; old faces such as Ian McKellen, Cate Blanchett and even the protuberant blue eyes of Elijah Wood earmark The Hobbit as a definite prequel. But in the mean time there is plenty of fresh meat which provides The Hobbit with ample character in its own right. Martin Freeman could not be more perfect as a young Bilbo. Kind natured, brave hearted and plucky, he is a joy to watch.
In some respects it is nice that The Hobbit is set to become another great trilogy but part of me questions why this short book needs to be drawn out over three films. Obviously it is a great money spinning deal, however time will tell if the story has been drawn and padded out in a way which is unsatisfactory. You could probably read Tolkien’s The Hobbit in less time than it will take to watch the 3 films. But then again, while The Hobbit is a prequel to The Lord of The Rings, it is significantly different in tone and style. Something which Jackson has noted and ran with. One of the finest scenes of the movie is the exchange between Sméagol/Gollum and Bilbo when the one ring is thrown into the mix. Jackson manages to capture a balance between quirky humour and genuine danger; it’s what makes The Hobbit so perfect for a family audience. The sophisticated, epic nature of Lord of The Rings may be missing, but The Hobbit more than makes up for this in other areas.
There are some moments that seem to have little to do with the main plot (such as a sledge ride through a forest with a brown Wizard) but for the most part The Hobbit is a thrilling cat and mouse chase with a heart warming climax. Freeman’s Bilbo shows a remarkable amount of growth and has already soared through one great character arc. Considering this is the first in a trilogy, there is enough brilliance here to make us genuinely excited for The Desolation of Smaug. To all cinemas goers; it’s good to be back in Middle Earth…