People are doing traditional-style reviews all over the web, so we decided to try something different. In each “breakdown” we’ll take a look at what a film’s marketing led us to believe, how the movie actually played, and then what we learned from it all. Read on!
Call me a nerd-heathen or something, but I am not a huge fan of the original Lord Of The Rings trilogy. It’s somewhere in the 11th ending of the Return Of The King, where the gray haze of CGI and Frodo, fucking Frodo, and all the shots of his big teary eyes just got too much for me. I can’t say that I hated the first two films on first sight, but since seeing them in the theater almost eight years ago, I’ve never once thought to revisit them. Which scares me greatly for The Hobbit, a trifle of a book being stretched out to an unbelievable three films of hobbits and orcs and Peter Jackson’s yen for bloated storytelling. I am not excited.
Ah shit, I hate it when I’m completely and totally wrong. The Hobbit, and yes I believe part of it was based on my lowered expectations of the film, completely blew me away. Yes, it gets a little long in the middle when Bilbo and the dwarves are parlaying with the elves (’cause elves are boring, duh). And yes, the pacing isn’t exactly riveting, but Peter Jackson has done with the first film in The Hobbit series, what I never truly felt he did with the original three – he’s made it feel like an adventure of yore. Though the film doesn’t rocket along, it takes Bilbo Baggins (Martin Freeman continuing to redefine himself as an everyman for a new generation) from crotchety anti-socialite to the very beginnings of a hero, respected by his action-oriented peers, near confident in how to be an adventurer, able and ready to do verbal battle with the always-exciting Gollum (Andy Serkis). Maybe it’s just that I don’t need a thrilling plot to push this film along. Jackson starts the film with a twenty minute retelling of the fate of the Dwarf stronghold. Though it is just a fictional bit of historical retelling, Jackson brings a sense of epic awe to the whole bit, leaving this reviewer ready to watch an entire series of films that simply had Jackson filming the history of Middle Earth. There would be no Hobbit without a proper Bilbo Baggins though, and Martin Freeman is just that. Where Elijah Wood’s Frodo Baggins was an over-excited halfling that moseyed about the films canoodling with Sam and relying more on the swell of music than his acting abilities, Freeman is a round, layered character, at times humorous and jovial, at other times pushed to the boundaries of his ability to move forward. This is his story – not the ring, not Gandalf, not even the dwarves that accompany him – the story of a chubby little half-man that becomes a real and true hero, and Freeman and Jackson understand that. As dwarves, wizards and hobbits stared ahead at the Lonely Mountain and everything it brought with it at the end of the film, I found myself excited – not bored, not dreading – two more films that told the full story of a Bilbo Baggins.
I’m very wrong, very often.