This afternoon I saw The Hobbit and it’s really been bugging the heck out of me why Peter Jackson is padding out The Hobbit so much with the additional material. The whole Hobbit narrative – Bilbo’s adventure There and Back Again, which is a sweet adventure tale in which the threats Bilbo faces are mainly physical (goblins, orcs, spiders all try to kill and/or eat him) and how his character develops – really jarred for me with the whole Necromancer, Morgul blade metaphysical menace.
But now I think I get it. Peter Jackson isn’t making another trilogy. He’s doing the next three movies in a six-movie set, which just happen to be set before the original Lord of the Rings trilogy. It appears he is aiming for a cohesive narrative throughout the three Hobbit movies and the Lord of the Rings trilogy. I will reserve judgement until the last movie to say if he is any more successful than George Lucas with his dreadful prequels to the Star Wars movies. Just please no more 10 minute chase scenes of Radagast the Brown in a sled pulled by freaking BUNNIES!!! Aarrgh.
One thing that did really detract from the movie was that too many of the action scenes were near replicas of scenes from the LotR trilogy. Escape from the goblin cave? Like the bridge at Khazad Dhum. Gandalf stuck on top of a high place with no hope of escape? Catch a friendly fluttery creature and send it for the eagles. Overbalancing rocks bridging a gap separating the members of our Company? Check. This is highlighted by Howard Shore’s almost identical scoring of the relevant scenes.
Where The Hobbit does excel though is in the character moments. It is a fantastic casting choice of Martin Freeman as our friendly everyman Hobbit adventurer Bilbo Baggins. He expertly handles Bilbo’s lighter comedic moments as well as his more serious ones, notably the riddle scene with Andy Serkis’s Gollum and the scene towards the end where he explains to the dwarves that he returned to help them get their home back. Sadly it doesn’t appear that he is going to get the award recognition for it.
I also really enjoyed Ken Stott’s Balin and Aiden Turner’s Kili. The strong cast is a hopeful sign for Jackson’s being able to pull off the cohesive six movie deal, but again I will wait until the third part to say.