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Film Review of The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey

Posted by Doug Jeffreys on June 25, 2015 at 1:05 PM Comments comments (0)

The Hobbit – A review (Warning Spoilers Ahead). First, let me say, I’ve read both The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings more than 40 times in the past 35 years. I know these stories almost word-for-word, so if someone buys the rights and wants to offer these tales in another medium they had better get it right. That being said Peter Jacksons’ big screen adaptation begins differently than Prof. Tolkiens’ work. It starts the week of Bilbo’s 111th birthday party showing the elderly Bilbo sitting down to write the story of how he found the ring as Frodo leaves to meet Gandalf on the road. I can certainly accept this small deviation as it clearly ties this movie to Jackson’s earlier productions of The Lord of the Rings for those that never read the books. The tale then began with the words: “In a hole in the ground…” And moved along nicely from there. During the unexpected party with the dwarves we see Thorin flash-back to the glory days of Erebor and its downfall with the coming of the dragon with some minor ‘Jacksonisms’. The journey continues and the next hiccup came during the encounter with the trolls. Being a purist I was a bit miffed by the slight departure from Tolkiens’ narrative, but I’ll live with it. There was a scene with Radagast the Brown, another wizard that occupied a sentence in the original book, that Jackson apparently felt needed a more substantial role, about twenty minutes more. Now enter a group of orcs that seem to have a blood-feud with Thorin and chase the entire group to the very doorstep of Rivendell (again, this whole scene is an addition by Peter Jackson). During the stay with Elrond, Galadriel and Saruman show up to stick their noses in the story. Yet another ‘Jacksonism’. Let’s move on. The group continues, climbing the mountain pass through the Misty Mountains, and much to my disdain Jackson seems to have taken the attack by the mountain giants literally. They are now mountain-sized giants made of living rock. After a heart-stopping escape the group has the encounter with the Great Goblins’ tribe, Bilbo gets separated from the dwarves, finds the ring, encounters Gollum and narrowly escapes to rejoin the Gandalf and the dwarves. Now, substitute the Blood-feud orcs for the mountain goblins, make considerable changes to the scene in the fir trees and you have another ‘Jacksonism’. The eagles rescue them and deposit the group near the great river and there the first film ends. As would be expected from a Wingnut production the locations, cinematography, casting, acting, music, special effects, etc., were top-notch, but someone needs to engrave the words “J.R.R. Tolkien was a masterful writer and you cannot improve his stories” into a Cricket Bat and smack Peter Jackson repeatedly in the forehead until he gets the point.