Here’s my take on The Hobbit. Granted, it is a bit different from writing about crime or fiction. But, hey, why not?
Probably like many Tolkien fans I approached the film with a fair amount of trepidation. First, the exit, some years ago, of Guillermo del Toro as director, who would have brought a delicious, and darker, style. Along with that came the decision to move it from two films to three.
More recently, were the lukewarm reviews in the media, with most film critics giving it a two or three out of five stars, bemoaning its length and how the film was shot, etc.
I went to the 2D version, thankfully, in Screen 2 in the Savoy in Dublin and enjoyed it almost as much as a hobbit loves a decent plate of fried mushrooms.
It started off nicely, creating out from the book but not from from its beginning, the Dwarf realm at the Lonely Mountain, the internal malaise in the kingdom and the attack by Smaug. It also brought in the division with the Elves in Mirkwood when they refused to come to their aid. It then goes to Bilbo’s home and the arrival of the dwarves, etc.
Jackson exercises his directorial discretion to create a plot line between the leader of the party, Thorin, and a suitably vile Orc chieftan, who’s not in the book. He flashes back to battle scenes at Moria explaining the bloody rivalry. The Orc’s hunt for revenge on Thorin results in some good chase scenes.
Jackson raids other Tolkien sources, such as The Unfinished Tales, to flesh out elements, notably the return of the dark lord to Dol Goldur and expands the role Tolkien gives to Radagast, the brown wizard. Both work reasonably well and whet your appetite for more.
Up until they reach Moria, I’d describe the film as, generally, reasonably good. The scenes in Moria, for me, bring it over the line of good and land the film between good and very good. The scenes with Gollum are excellent and the battle scenes with the Goblin army through the mines are also very good. Seeing Gandalf giving it loads is great. After that we have a final battle scene with the manic Orc chieftan (rather than Goblin army, as in the book), which is also quite exciting.
There are some weak parts in it. I thought the interactions between Gandalf, Saruman, Elrond and Galadriel were a bit stiff. Many of the dwarves look anything but and some of the digital effects were weak at times.
All in all, on a first viewing, a solid three and a half out of five stars, with good prospects for the remaining films.