Film, TV and the Arts

Film, TV and the Arts

Thursday, 13 December 2012

Review: The Hobbit - An Unexpected Journey

No masterpiece, but there is much to enjoy in this return to Middle Earth

It is the case that Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings trilogy is to my generation what the original Star Wars trilogy was to the children of the 70s and 80s. Every Christmas for three years, those films were amazing and formative experiences, showing our young eyes what cinema was capable of. They have swiftly become almost untouchable. I have never fully trusted anyone who has said that they don’t really get The Lord of the Rings. They seem like tricksy Hobbitses.

The LOTR/Star Wars analogy is most apt, because both generations craved more and both generations have had their moment of truth. With the Star Wars generation, it was a case of be careful what you wish for, and the fear amongst Tolkien fans, who learnt from this travesty, is palpable. After all, a slim volume has been transformed into not one, not two, but three films, and we are terrified that we are not about to be transported back to Middle Earth but rather to an accountant’s spreadsheet.

Of course, in such situations, the fanboy is his own worst enemy. He lets his expectations rocket high into the stratosphere, preventing himself from having the relaxed open-mind which let him fall in love with the material in the first place. Given that, the usual reaction to such big releases is torn between cries of “It’s a masterpiece!” and “It’s an abomination!”

In the case of The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, it is neither of the two. It is a fine addition to the cinematic Tolkien saga, but it has its problems. These problems are not insuperable, and when the initial furore has died down, it will be evident that Jackson should have our faith that he can really hit top gear with instalments two and three.