Formerly published in The Other Press. Jan. 8 2013
Better than the book!
By Elliot Chan, Contributor
Like most, I was skeptical when I heard that The Hobbit was being stretched from a 300-page children’s novel into three movies. But as the credits interrupted the story I was so engulfed in, I realized that I could have sat for six more hours. The rumour of Peter Jackson making The Hobbit into a trilogy to milk money out of loyal fans had been vanquished, for Jackson told the story the way it should have been told.
J. R. R. Tolkien can be referred to as many things: academic scholar, linguistic genius, an imaginative author, yet nobody reading his novels can ever say that he was a compelling storyteller. The Hobbit, though immensely popular, always read like a second draft awaiting Tolkien to fill in some key information. Since discovering Middle Earth at the ripe age of 11, I revisited the novel twice, each with a declining appreciation. But don’t get me wrong, I love Tolkien, and I am forever thankful that he created his fantastical world, only so that Jackson could make it one that generations to come can enjoy.
However, the new technology caused the film to lose some authenticity. Some may argue that combining 3D with the new 48FPS made for better image, but during dialogue scenes and sequences with little to no action the film felt jarred and sped up. Unlike The Lord of the Rings, where Jackson relied mainly on stunt actors for battle scenes, the over usage of CGI in The Hobbit cannot be ignored. Many of the generated characters were unimpressive, and caused the film to actually look dated.
Still, the flaws were few and far between—and most of them were caused by Tolkien’s eclectic storyline. The 13 dwarves were the most problematic, but Jackson coped by centering the plot on Thorin Oakensheild (played by Richard Armitage). Like Viggo Mortensen and Orlando Bloom, Jackson has a knack for finding talented heroes. After two decades in the film and television industry, the dues have finally been paid. At moments pitiful and others despicable, Armitage shows off his range as a brooding dwarf king determined to reclaim his home from a dragon named Smaug.
Another gem of the film is Martin Freeman’s performance as Bilbo Baggins. The long time British television star famous for playing alongside Ricky Gervais in The Officeand Benedict Cumberbatch in Sherlock, has the charm and sense of comedic timing that gives classical gags an organic feel.
From dwarven tomfoolery to tension-building riddles, the first installment of The Hobbit has raised the bar for the second and third. But with its cliffhanger ending, one can only imagine that the worst part of the up-coming movies would be the waiting, and not the walking.