When Peter Jackson first decided to adapt Tolkien’s legendary Lord Of The Rings stories for film he struggled to convince film companies that it needed to be a trilogy. ‘Put everything into one film’ they said (shudder to think?) but eventually he convinced them and fans everywhere breathed a sigh of relief.
When the news broke that The Hobbit would also be a trilogy there was a collective intake of breath from everyone who knew how short the book is. How was Jackson possibly going to turn the mere 320 pages of The Hobbit into another epic trilogy? Well, we needn’t have doubted him because The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey is an amazing film and we can only hope the next two will be just as good
Jackson’s utilised Tolkien’s appendixes to help fill out the story and although some people might feel it’s a bit long I can honestly say that there wasn’t a single moment when I was bored or checking my watch. The non-stop action makes for an exciting introduction to this trilogy but holds back from over facing the audience at an early stage.
As you might expect the performances are excellent and while Sir Ian McKellen and Hugo Weaving effortlessly pick up the characters they know and love so well, Martin Freeman and Richard Armitage step up to the challenge of taking on two of the most important in the trilogy. Freeman manages to embody the characteristics of Bilbo before he became the adventurer we know from the LOTR whilst still giving us a glimpse of the hobbit he will become, while Armitage doesn’t shy away from taking on the role of the courageous but haunted dwarf leader Thorin.
Gollum is another treat as we see a side of him we’ve only been able to imagine before. We’re familiar with the Gollum who’s obsessed with gaining back The Ring and the Gollum (aka Sméagol) he was before he found The Ring, but in The Hobbit we meet a Gollum who’s been living with the object of his addiction for a very long time. Again Andy Serkis takes this unique character to a new level and it’s hypnotising to watch the interaction between him and Bilbo.
The Hobbit is sadly lacking in female characters and really the only one is Galadriel (who isn’t in the book) but Jackson can hardly be faulted for Tolkien’s apparent lack of gender equality and although it’s still noticeable he’s done his best to combat this. His other controversial decision to film The Hobbit at 48 frames per second has received a fair amount of criticism which I have to strongly disagree with. The Hobbit looks incredible and not once did I feel nauseous or notice that Gandalf’s nose was obviously fake.
Walking into the cinema with a fair amount of concern about what I was about to see I left rebuking myself for ever doubting Jackson who’s managed to take this beloved story and adapt it into an exciting, thrilling, gripping and visually stunning addition to the Middle Earth world.
The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey opens in the UK on 13th December 2012. Watch the trailer below.