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The Hobbit : review of an enthusiastic spectator

February 8, 2013

Before the holidays, I said that the end of 2012 was very rock’n’roll, but it was also very prolific for the cinema. Thus, you have probably seen the last opus of the 007’s saga Skyfall (already dealt with in this blog) which I actually appreciated a lot. Since the beginning of December, it’s the Tolkien Universe’s turn to be adapted on the big screen, with the release of The Hobbit : An Unexpected Journey, first episode of a new trilogy realized by the master Peter Jackson.

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The Hobbit narrates the story of Bilbo Baggins, Frodo’s uncle, who lives peacefully in The Shire and embarks himself on an “unexpected journey” with the wizard Gandalf and a 13-dwarf company led by their chief Thorin Oakenshield. Their goal : going to the east in order to recapture the Lonely Mountain, the former dwarfs’ capital, and its treasure fiercely kept by the dragon Smaug. The company will face amounts of dangers including trolls, goblins, wolves and many others. For Bilbo, it’s an important episode of his life (which will have a lot of consequences) because he encounters a certain Gollum in the depths of the Goblin cavern.

As a great fan of Tolkien and LOTR‘s saga, I was expecting The Hobbit with childish enthusiasm. And I was not disappointed.

It was a real pleasure to go back in the Middle Earth, to be amazed in front of the Shire, hobbits holes (all shot in natural settings)  and the great landscapes with snow-topped mountains. In terms of visual realization, The Hobbit is wonderful and I don’t understand people who say that FX are cheap : on the contrary I believe they are very realistic and well made; you can’t make the difference between the real and the numeric ! However, I don’t agree with monsters’ appearance : I prefer the ones in LOTR, which are more aggressive.

Concerning the screenplay, in my opinion the plot is well transcribed in the movie. I’ve read the book and Peter Jackson even took quotes from it to insert in the dialogues. Many people complain about the tone of the movie, too puerile and devoid of sensations in comparison with LOTR. I would rather say less epic and more Homeric : we mustn’t forget that The Hobbit is before all a tale for children, and that’s the reason why we find more fun than in Frodo’s story. Regarding the Homeric part, we follow Bilbo, a typical hobbit : joyful, Epicurean and very home-loving. Thus, he is considered as a burden at the beginning of the trip and ordeals after ordeals, he takes importance inside the company and becomes admired. This is in my opinion the analogy with Ulysses.

Regarding the actors, they are in general pretty good. Ian Mckellen (Gandalf) is perfect as always. Martin Freeman (Bilbo) plays well too but however he doesn’t have this anxious and distraught look that Frodo was able to convey in LOTR. Finally, Richard Armitage (Thorin) seems to be comfortable in his dwarf part, thanks in part to a remarkable make up work. The rest of the company looks good too but is more anecdotal, a little bit like in the novel in fact.

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Martin Freeman (Bilbo) and Andy Serkis (Gollum)

The movie is long (2h45) and some scenes seem to be taken from a full length version. But for my part, I didn’t complain about this : these are very descriptive and they explore the past of the story. It was not a problem for the fan I am, quite the opposite.

In brief, The Hobbit is a good movie which mustn’t be compared with The Lord of The Rings : you find the same setup, some familiar faces but a totally different adventure from Frodo’s. If you are not afraid of long film and full of goblins caves, you must enroll with Bilbo in Thorin’s company !

Arthur

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