I love the works of J.R.R Tolkien. The 100’000+ words I’ve written about The Lord of the Rings for this site might have been a clue.
And I love Peter Jackson’s trilogy of films based upon the same material. I think those films are the absolute best adaptations that there could possibly be.
And so we come to The Hobbit, the first movie adaptation of which is on general release today. I won’t get to see it for a few days, probably Sunday at the earliest, and a review will be forthcoming.
I don’t usually talk about movies before they have been released, but since Tolkien and his universe have been passions of mine, I figured I should this time around. In the run-up to the release of An Unexpected Journey, I witnessed a lot of negativity being aimed at Jackson and his production. A lot of this comes from the decision to stretch the material out to three movies, or from a general appraisal that this new trilogy cannot possibly top the old one. To the first I can only say that with the extra material Jackson has enough for three movies without a doubt, and to the second, well, wait and see.
Anyway, I’d like to briefly talk about my own expectations for The Hobbit, before I actually see it. Next week, whenever I get round to reviewing it properly, I’ll have a launching point to base my opinions off.
So, what I expect is:
– A childlike, kid-friendly, whatever you like to call it, tone. The Hobbit is a children’s story, and I would be baffled if Jackson wrote and directed it as anything but. I suppose the White Council elements that they are including will be for the adult audience, but everything Bilbo related should be less “epic” and serious than The Lord of the Rings. I’m going in expecting this, so I wouldn’t call it something to criticise.
-Good performances all round (well, for the most part). I couldn’t name an actor who I felt let The Lord of the Rings down (no, not even Orlando Bloom). Jackson got good stuff out of all of his cast before, and I expect he’ll do the same again.
-Good CGI work/special effects. WETA did an amazing job for the first trilogy, with the correct mixture of CGI, miniatures, the MASSIVE engine, green screen and extensive make-up. The decision to put in more CGI in this trilogy has been questioned, but I would expect it to be of a high standard.
-I expect to not be bored at any point. The Lord of the Rings films were paced excellently in my opinion, and I never felt like they dragged for their long running time. An Unexpected Journey clocks in at around 160 minutes I’m told, for just over a third of the actual book. There’s plenty of material to keep ticking over.
-Gollum/Andy Serkis is going to steal the show and I would expect “Riddles in the Dark” to be something akin to a word for word adaptation. That chapter might well be Tolkien’s finest work after all.
– I expect Manu Bennet to disappoint. I love Spartacus: Blood and Sand, but the guy is one of the worst actors on television. If Jackson gets him to impress, I’d actually be floored.
-I expect I’ll roll my eyes for anything Radagast related. He strikes me as a Bombadil-type character, who belongs more in a book than in a visual format.
-I expect most of the characterisation for the dwarves to be relegated to extended edition material. There are 13 of them after all. That doesn’t mean it won’t be critique-worthy if it is absent from the theatrical version though.
-Martin Freeman should do just fine as Bilbo. The guys a good actor, even if he may have been somewhat typecast over his career.
-I hope, but don’t really expect, to get a proper glimpse of Smaug or the Necromancer, not because I’m dying to see how they’ll depict them but because I want to hear how Benedict Cumberbatch will voice them.
-I’m not sure what to expect with the White Council sub-plot. That’s Jackson jumping into a great unknown in my eyes, making a lot of hay out of little material. The Hobbit is going to succeed or fail critically with that stuff.
-I expect Jackson to, again, keep a bare minimum of actual dialogue from the books in favour of his own interpretations and paraphrasing. This worked incredibly well in The Lord of the Rings, so why change it?
-I expect I’ll enjoy this film. I can’t say whether it will be better or worse than The Lord of the Rings, but I will say that comparisons between the two are both fair and unfair. Fair in so far as they are in the same universe and come from the same production team, unfair in that they are very different stories with a different tone.
-I expect The Hobbit is going to have to settle for middling reviews. I just get that feeling, that An Unexpected Journey has been pre-judged to the hilt. That isn’t going to influence how I see it though.