I haven’t read The Hobbit since I was ten. I say this because I’m not going to make any comparisons with the book – I don’t really remember it. I’ve got more interest in the on-screen work of Peter Jackson than I do J.R.R. Tolkien on paper.
I loved the film. Partly it was a series of pleasant surprises. I didn’t have incredibly high hopes with them stretching it out to a trilogy and besides, the poster looked like a sequel to Willow. It felt like there was great potential for disaster, but the dwarf songs are not annoying (though I still wouldn’t miss them) and very importantly Martin Freeman is not awful. He’s not great, but like in Sherlock, he isn’t fucking it up either. Maybe he’s getting better at this.
Being back in Middle Earth is wonderful. It’s like meeting old friends. I especially love that they’re reframing The Hobbit as a clear prequel to Lord of The Rings (which may well drive fans crazy). The film begins with a flashback from Ian Holm’s (proper) Bilbo just before his party at the start of LOTR and the connections made me very happy.
The dwarves are the main deal and though their makeup is so heavy you can’t really spot the marvellous British actors behind the beards they are great fun. There are too many of them to get to know properly anyway – I know them as the fat one, the ginger one, the prettyish ones, Happy, Sleepy… They fight well though in the lovely action scenes and the battles are full of axes and bludgeoning.
What else… the spectacular Stone Giants, weird but great casting choices (Sylvester McCoy and Barry Humphries). Oh, and it’s funny.
I say watch it. The next two Christmases are booked in.