Friday, 11 January 2013

The Hobbit squarely hits the comfort zone

It was only to be expected that Peter Jackson would extend the line from the Lord of the Rings trilogy to the Hobbit and the first part of the Hobbit fully meets these expectations. That is probably why reviews are generally quite flat. This movie shows craftsmanship rather than genius. You can admire the skill with which it's been made but you won't be shocked, overwhelmed, surprised or moved.

This is not a problem as long as you liked the Lord of the Rings, book or movie, and all that goes with it. You can then just continue in that cozy, plush rose garden that you've been looking forward to over the last decade. And that feeling will continue for a few more years as parts two and three appear, followed by extended versions. And then the long wait will start anew, for some adaptation of the Silmarillion or whatever Tolkien's legacy has in store that can be adapted with any chance of commercial success.

As a huge fan of Lord of the Rings since I was 17 I'm one of the core audience for this movie, and Jackson delivers first of all to us, staying true to the imagery of the sequels.  The movie has the dark undertones that Tolkien sought to inject into the Hobbit after the LotR had come out. Luckily the book was saved from that treatment and I can appreciate it for what it is. But the movie, as a prequel, is better for adopting that atmosphere. The setting is pretty grim, but not overburdened with the forboding of the later saga.

Of course, I have my minor qualms about changes to the book. Some are unnecessary, in my opinion. Like the way the trolls are handled. As far as I'm concerned the solution in the book is much funnier. But that is peanuts, especially compared to the Arwen fiasco in LotR. The only thing that comes close is the Rhosgobel Rabbit Express, which is totally ridiculous but thankfully not a recurring item.

The movie is certainly not too long for me, but then again I'm the core audience. I could have stayed there all night if Jackson had so willed it, but if this movie wants to make money it needs to draw in a lot of people who will not just lap up anything about Tolkien. They might think this is overwrought and three movies about this short book is a bit much, even when the movie draws in some stuff from other books.

I read The Hobbit in English first time, but later acquired a Dutch translation. Reads very well

But most of all this movie is a reason to experience it all again. We played Middle Earth Quest again.  It made me reread the Hobbit, much of the early parts and the appendices of LotR and even bits from the Silmarillion. It's wonderful to step into an entire universe with so much behind it and to look at it like a historian or a game designer would, not just as the reader of a novel.


  1. There's one thing here that i can adjust to.. a film of the silmarillion..
    We had a chat lately about a harder title then lotr itself, (james clemens, verboden en verbannen) but silmarillion is a whole class in itself.
    I have all things JRR (and later his son) published. And i'm watching the hobbit atm (legally.. perhaps) however.. i still feel it's silly to make 3 movies out of a book that's not even a third of 1 book from the trilogy..
    But I do get you point, if you're sucked into it, it's damn good, even for the little flaws that are not original.
    Just my 2 cents ;)

    1. We will see how the three movies pan out. To me it wasn't slow or long, so i'd think i'll be alright with it. Not sure about the general,moviegoing public

      It probably means the lotr trilogy was too short ;-)

  2. I had those exact same books as in the picture. Not anymore though.

    1. It works for the Hobbit. The names and Dutch 50s wording work really well for me


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