Getting Out of the Shadow:
A Review of “The Hobbit”
by Aidan Brawn
In “The Hobbit”, a homebody Hobbit named Bilbo is chosen to be the final companion in a troupe of dwarves and a wizard in a quest to reclaim the home of the dwarves from the clutches of a fierce and wicked dragon. But the most difficult aspect of the quest may come before the movie even begins.
Director Peter Jackson’s return to Middle Earth is having difficulty escaping the legacy of his incredibly successful trilogy, “The Lord of the Rings” (LOTR), whose final film won Best Picture and cemented itself as possibly one of the most important fantasy films of all time. “The Hobbit” has been faced with a difficult question: Where do you go from the top?
When following such great success, anything less than an equal or greater performance is often considered a failure, and there are several ways that Jackson’s latest is a weaker film than any of the trilogy.
The story is plainly less compelling. Once the companions depart from the Shire, the point of origin for “The Hobbit,” action sequences flow into one another with roughly the grace of Niagara Falls. Trolls lead to goblins that lead to massive stone giants that lead back to more goblins. It’s exhausting.
While LOTR created memorable characters out of every single member of the fellowship, “The Hobbit” cannot boast such lasting performances.
Outside of Martin Freeman’s Bilbo, Andy Serkis’ digitally astonishing Gollum, and Sir Ian McKellen’s Gandalf, viewers will be hard-pressed to even identify which characters were on screen at any given point.
However, while in some areas “The Hobbit” clearly falls short of its predecessors, it succeeds in many others. The film is downright fun, and that is all it tried and needed to be. Freeman’s dialogue is perfect, and while unending, the action is exciting and creative, with less hack and slash than the earlier films.
Once again the visuals are incredible, with spectacular scenery and special effects combining to sweep the viewers to Middle Earth with ease, both in the iconic Shire and the scarier places of the world.
Most importantly, the film isn’t trying to be the fourth film in the series. It has succeeded in being its own story, with a memorable lead in Freeman, a lighter tone and enough action to make viewers forget endless scenes of Frodo trudging through Mordor with a horrifically constipated look on his face.