Peter Jackson brings us back to Middle Earth in the tale that preceded the hit Lord of the Rings trilogy. This time, the single book has been broken into three separate films. It’s a good movie with decent visuals. It is however, filled with padding that could’ve either been edited into two movies or at the very least given another round through the editor’s booth.
Bilbo Baggins reminisces to Frodo about his adventures with Gandalf and the company of dwarves. As he is remembering he turns into a younger version of himself, played by Martin Freeman. Bilbo recalls being hired as a burglar by Gandalf, played by Sir Ian McKellan, to help a group of dwarves reclaim their homeland from the dragon Smaug. He faces many challenges and goes out of his comfort-zone for this great adventure.
Martin Freeman does a fine job as Bilbo. It’s great to see many of the old characters again. Andy Serkis as Gollum is great and the CGI on him has improved sharply. The problem is that the new characters are fairly forgettable at this point. Even after lots and lots of padding, the dwarves are easy to forget.
The length of this movie causes a major problem. The long hours of The Lord of the Rings movies worked because the threat of Sauron was so immense. In The Hobbit, the threat is localized to the characters themselves and is harder to identify with- a dragon that stole the gold of the dwarves. It’s not nearly as epic. The simple fact is that The Lord of the Rings trilogy raised the bar really high and it’s going to take a lot to get to that level again.
If you are a fan of the book you will enjoy this movie. If you enjoyed The Lord of the Rings movies you will most likely find this one to be the weakest of the series. The series still might get better. The dragon Smaug was barely shown, leaving me to really anticipate The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug. I have a feeling there is a lot more action yet to come. At the very least see it as a matinee.