Which isn’t to say I’ve been unaware of some of the more miserly reviews regarding The Hobbit.
Overlong. Too bloated. Not enough story. Christ, some even slag off Peter Jackson’s decision to film it in 48 frames a minute – a complaint I find unfathomable in this world of HD TV and Blu-Ray crystal clear clarity.
Peter Jackson himself isn’t chasing an Oscar in this film. He’s said so in interview.
So you’d think maybe he didn’t try hard enough then, didn’t give the film his all.
That would be a misconception.
The Hobbit is Peter Jackson’s gift, if you like, to all those of us who fell in love with his cinematic version of Middle Earth in the Lord Of The Rings trilogy. It is a luxurious, indulgent, joyous return to that world. It pulls us in and wraps us up warm and invites us to stay for as long as we like.
Yes the film is long. 3 hours and 2 more films to come. But it is not overlong. I could have stayed for far longer. I’m one of those fans of LOTR who choose the extended versions over the cinematic releases every time anyway. Hell, if Pete J has an extended version of The Hobbit up his sleeve then I’m all for it. Bring it on.
Too bloated? No. It is rich. It is full. But it is not heavy on the stomach. It has a gloriously British cast who each in their own way hold the screen and support each other without vying for attention. Peter Jackson has a deft touch. It is great to see Ken Stott and James Nesbitt on the big screen... even if Nesbitt does look like a weird cross between a Cossack and a dwarf.
Best of all though is Richard Armitage as Thorin Oakenshield. Brooding, dark and yet somehow deservingly sympathetic. It took me until the very end of the film before I could place him. The eyes, the voice, I knew them but where from? Gisbourne in the BBC’s Robin Hood and more recently as Lucas North in Spooks. He fills Thorin’s boots effortlessly and is possibly the most attractive Dwarf in the world (if you like your Dwarves to have singing voices like Barry White).
Weirdly it is very easy to overlook Martin Freeman’s role in the film. Not because it is inconsequential – as Bilbo it would hardly be that – but because there is just an expectation that he is naturally going to be good. And he is. He blends into Ian Holm’s portrayal and manages to make it his own all at the same time and rather selfishly we take his faultless performance entirely for granted. But then that mirrors Bilbo’s beguiling humility in the story.
The best scene by far is the riddle scene between Bilbo and Gollum. It is pitch perfect. I cannot fault it. It is the lynch pin of all the films so it damn well had to be. The actors step up to the plate and hit a home run. Spot on.
There are so many other notables in the film – Ian McKellan, Christopher Lee, Sylvester McCoy, Kate Blanchett – I could easily make this post 3 hours long in itself and spoil the entire film for you.
But that isn’t my intention.
My intention is to get you to the cinema to enjoy it for yourself.
After all, I’m just another non-expert critic. Don’t take my word for it.
Go and make your own mind up.