It’s been more than 5 year since the LOTR series ended, and at that time, we were all enthralled by the mystical world of Middle Earth, the scenery, the men in armour bonding whilst defeating the forces of evil in adventure after adventure. Since then, fans have been clamouring for the Hobbit to be made.
SO it with great fanfare that we welcomed Hobbit this month, especially after the start stop efforts in making it in NZ, the 48 fps movie making process and just the duress suffered to make this happen.
I must have been a little jaded, but the word is : Rehash…
Sure, there were the heady battles, the camaderie, the fabulous NZ scenery doubling up again for Middle Earth (didn’t spot any chaps in modern clothes or wearing watches this time), and of course the new awesome 7.1 surround.
But somehow it wasn’t as novel, as tight as before and the new band of brothers or dwarfs to be more exact, were more faceless, and more is not always better. There were more members, and it was no longer a surprise to see famous actors being depicted as half their usual size, and with so many more, there isn’t enough screen time to make the 14 members all stand out.
In the cast, you will find a mixture of familiar faces suitably made younger in appearance given that this story was supposed to be the prequel to LOTR, and some new intrepid members who seeks to restore the dwarf kingdom to it’s glory.
The good news is that you don’t need a lot of background to get into this show, and Peter Jackson helpfully begins the movie with some scenes that show the LOTR period before plunging us into the Hobbit era which is about 60 years before LOTR.
So there is more and there is less. …
The quest is less noble and less fraught with danger and the plot seems designed basically to carry us from one action scene to the next, interspersed with more beautiful NZ scenery. Certainly, the action quotient has gone up, and even the sound engineering has improved. You also see the benefit of modern CGI being even better than the awe-inspiring LOTR.
I suspect part of the reason is that all of this trilogy came out of a rather thin book, so the plot is short on details, and long on action, some humor and rather more raucous singing than I like..
There are some redeeming features though, and the addition of Martin Freeman (Watson from the BBC Sherlock Holmes) as the young Baggins was a solid move, and he makes the role his own, whilst keeping to the storyline and taking over from Ian Holme. Guillermo del Toro adds a lot of his personal touch as a director, in terms of all the monsters. The worlds are far more elaborate, and the details on the lairs deep under and on the faces of the various trolls and orcs and other creatures are even more weird and wonderful than before. I bet he was delighted to be allowed to exercise his imagination in a way not seen since his production of Pan’s Labyrinth.. he also likes to work with models and this is something Peter Jackson can identify with.
However if you are an action aficionado, then rest assured the movie won’t disappointed in this aspect as the action comes fast and furious, taking us deep into Middle Earth with new monsters, and cameos of old enemies.
The surround effects and bass will impress too and I have no doubt that the Blu Ray will be a demo worthy one when it comes out.
All in all, that is what I feel, lovely period action movie, with great scenery and some humor thrown in, but it somehow lacks the novelty and impact in the plot as it’s predecessor, which ironically, consists of the latter few books of Tolkien’s writing.
It demands a cinema outing or a very solid home theatre system for the action and sound spectacle, but I feel it lacks the soul and the freshness of the older work.
Worth a watch with the caveats mentioned.