I remember when I read The Hobbit in fifth grade. Our teacher Mr. Savage had us read it as a class, this act alone made him the coolest teacher we had ever had. As long ago as that was the book continues to be one today’s children enjoy. All of my children read this classic when it was assigned to each of them in Junior High. As much as the trilogy The Lord of The Rings is considered the real gem of Tolkien’s work it has been my experience that The Hobbit is his most accessible work.
Why am I writing about this book now, two months after it first appeared in theaters? Well I guess you would have to blame my eldest son. Having shared the Lord of the Rings movies as each appeared we both, though I must admit it seemed to mean more to me, had committed to seeing the movie together. Doing so proved much more difficult however as, being that he is now a young man with a car and a license, he has many more options than he used to have. On Tuesday my wife purchased tickets to see the movie at the bargain theater in town, at only a dollar per we took the gamble we could entice him to join us, and as he arrived home from work we advised him to get in the car and join us before he could make other plans.
For all this planning and effort the most important question is how is the movie. The answer is, for me, disappointing. For anyone who has not read The Hobbit it might well be a better than average movie, for me however, it was like listening to an album a band has released after having a hit single. Too much filler. Where the Lord of the Rings movies featured a storyline that moved toward it’s conclusion in an expected way The Hobbit features a created storyline that very quickly becomes tiresome at best. The emphasis on the personal battle between The Pale Orc and Thorin Oakenshield dominates the movie and will come as a surprise to anyone anticipating a story that derives from the book. i would say that at last thirty to forty minutes of this movie are battles scenes with endless sword play. This is all well and good, if this is what one signs on for, but The Hobbit is really a tale of a journey that ends with a climatic battle, it is not a two hour long battle between a converted tree and a vengeful dwarf. The book is called The Hobbit after all.
Now I know why this was done. In order to make the production of the movie viable Peter Jackson needed to make three movies, the cost of making these films is very expensive. Thus with only one book of material a great deal of filler had to be added. As there are two movies left to come and our heroes at the end of this first movie look out across the horizon and see The Dragon Smaug’s mountain one can be quite assured that movies two and three will depart from the expected as well.
The movie has winning moments. The scenes with Gollum are, as in the previous movies, wonderfully done. The special effects used in the creation of The Trolls and The Orc Leader are as good as one will see. As the movie reaches it’s ending the peace that is reached between the Dwarf leader Thorin and Bilbo Baggins is touching and seems true to the storyline.
Still, for me, almost three hours in a theater watching a stretched out movie of endless battle scenes was time I could have better spent. I have to say that the possibility of me going to see the remaining movies in this series is extremely low. I cannot be the only one who felt this way, while the movie has made a ton of money, the buzz around this entry has been low to non existent. It might well be that Peter Jackson has gone to the well too many times. For this viewer the Hobbit thirst is quenched.