Starring: Ian McKellen, Martin Freeman, Richard Armitage, Ken Scott, Graham McTavish, William Kircher, James Nesbitt.
Rated: PG-13. Adventure/Fantasy. Running Time: 2 hours 49 minutes.
When the Lord of the Rings film series was released in 2001, I had yet to embrace my inner nerd. I was still in high school and my boyfriend at the time insisted we go see it. It was by no means a movie I would ever have chosen to go see on my own, but I was more than pleasantly surprised. In fact, I absolutely loved it. Legolas and Aragorn were total babes. The hobbits were these tiny, adorable gluttons. I wanted nothing more than to live in Rivendell with Hugo Weaving and the rest of the elves and Gandalf was nothing short of a badass. Lest, the emancipation of my inner nerd. The cinematography and special effects were spectacular, the story of good versus evil was captivating and the tale of the unlikely hero was inspiring. Despite all of this, I wasn’t exactly thrilled when I heard The Hobbit was in production. Perhaps because I thought it was odd to release it after the Lord of the Rings, when it actually precedes the trilogy. Ross suggested we give it a look once it was out of theatres and I agreed that I could wait, which is already a bad sign. We were both huge fans of the LOTR, so why weren’t we rushing out to go see it? Even without our patronage, the film still broke December box office records. I found the film to be a big disappointment. It was missing something. Maybe it was missing the element of surprise because we as viewers already know how the story ends. Or maybe it just had the predictable qualities of its big screen predecessors. Either way, I found myself dozing off during its almost 3 hour running time. Sad, but true.
After Gandalf (McKellen), how about that starring line-up? Martin Freeman. Richard Armitage etc. I’m sure they are all fine actors, but look up their histories and you’ll find small parts galore, and most of them are from the UK or New Zealand. This tells me one thing, the CGI animation is the star of the show now. Obviously, it was a huge part of the LOTR trilogy, and it was most breathtaking, but the reason I couldn’t wait for the next one to come out was because of the great story and the characters. I cared deeply about them (my inner nerd has always been alive and well btw. “Live long and prosper!”) and couldn’t wait to see what was going to happen. While watching The Hobbit, when I wasn’t fighting dozing off, all I could think was “been there, done that, seen that, and it was better before. Much better.” In LOTR, you had a fellowship of heroes on a seemingly hopeless quest to save Middle Earth from the purely evil Sauron, who wanted to lay waste to all of it. In The Hobbit, our heroes are trying to reclaim the dwarves mountain home from a gold-loving dragon (huh?) who ran them off. Not quite equal on the importance scale. Beyond that, this group doesn’t make me root for them, or care. This Bilbo Baggins (Freeman) is boring. I know Frodo was no stand-up comic, but he was earnest and honest and we also had Sam, Merry and Pippin too. One hobbit is not enough, and WAY too many dwarves. Frodo, the old Bilbo, Lord Elrond (Hugo Weaving), Lady Galadriel (Cate Blanchett) and Saruman (Christopher Lee) all made cameo appearances, and Andy Serkis is back voicing Gollum, but they are little help. Gandalf leads the new crew and they walk and walk, they scale mountains that crumble and fall on them. They get attacked by Orcs and trolls. They hook rides on giant eagles. Sound familiar?
Yes! You are undoubtedly correct. It has all been done and seen before. And as it mercifully ended, we could tell that there will be more of the same to come. I couldn’t be more uninterested. I wish they had released these movies in sequential order. I think that would have made a huge difference. And it feels like a total money grub to extend this novel into a trilogy. They should have quit while they were ahead.
If The Hobbit had come before the LOTR trilogy there is no doubt I would have enjoyed it more. Unfortunately it didn’t. Another problem is, with all the great trilogies and more-ogies, each individual movie could stand on it’s own. Harry Potter. Twilight. The Matrix. Star Wars. Star Trek. LOTR. The Bournes. The Hobbit was a nearly three hour set-up. Nothing really happens and nothing is resolved. The beginning of seven and a half to nine hours worth of recycled Middle Earth. If you’re served filet mignon for the first time and you love it, then someone sets down Salisbury steak in front of you and tells you it’s filet, it won’t take many bites to know you’ve been had. Maria mentioned The Hobbit broke December box office records. I’ll bet the grosses go down with each film. Then again, maybe I’m underestimating the public’s love of Salisbury steak.
Maria’s Rating: 2 Gummy Bears out of 5.
Ross’ Rating: 2.25 Gummies.