WARNING: REVIEW CONTAINS SPOILERS
Once again, it seems, I am much behind the times in reviewing this film. I am actually surprised at how behind the times I am. Being a massive Lord of the Rings fan (films, books, Tolkien in general), I had plans to see this film on the day it came out. That didn’t happen, and then I was going to see it over the Christmas holidays, but it just kept getting pushed back further and further. Luckily, however, my university cinema showed it the other day, so I finally got the chance to go along and watch it.
Like most other Tolkien fans, I had very high hopes for what this movie would be like and needless to say I was not disappointed. One thing I had been concerned about before going to see the film was that, judging by the plot outline, they had managed to drag six chapters out into a three hour film. I was concerned that it would feel stodgy and stuck, and parts of the plot would get very boring, very fast. I didn’t find this, however, and even though I know The Hobbit story very well, I found that film was able to create tension for me. For example, in the part where Gollum is sitting in the exit gap to the Misty Mountains, I knew that Bilbo would take a flying leap and get free, but I still found my heart pounding with terror lest he didn’t escape. I think another way Peter Jackson effectively create tension was through the addition of the white Orc. There is no such character at this stage in the Hobbit book, and yet I didn’t find the addition to be in anyway clunky or to not sit right with the movie.
This leads on to the other additions that I thought were effective; the part with Radagast and the coming of the nameless terror were very well done; they are alluded to in the books but I thought the way it fully played out was most interesting. Also, the part with the white council and the riddle of the sword really gripped my attention. I thought it was fascinating to see the beginnings of character traits that I have come to know and love in the Lord of the Rings films. I thought the casting was terrifically done as well; Martin Freeman as Bilbo has just the right amount of lightheartedness as well as emotional depth, Richard Armitage as Thorin Oakenshield provides a brooding and yet somehow empathetic character as the leader of the dwarves. Returning cast members were equally as fabulous; Sir Ian Mackellan as Gandalf the Grey, Christopher Lee as Saruman the White, Cate Blanchett as Galadriel (love this women, and what would I give for her costumes!), and of course Andy Serkis as Gollum. I love Andy Serkis, he’s a genius (and the fact that he went to my university is pretty cool as well!), and he manages to make Gollum funny, terrifying and yet incredibly sad at the same time.
Aside from the actual plot line of the story, I thought it was incredible well filmed; the score by Howard Shore was immense as ever and this positioned next to the breathtaking scenery of New Zealand really got my heart soaring. I can’t say everything about all things I would wish here, because then the review would be several thousand words long. If you are interested in this film, I strongly suggest you go and look at the production videos that are available on YouTube, that will give you the ins and outs of how things worked, from the creation of the concept art, through to location choosing and on to post-production.
As to these films, I cannot wait for the next part and to see what Jackson and his team will do with it.