Average User Score: 8.1Dec 17, 2012This review contains spoilers, click expand to view. If you read the book, The Hobbit is a wonderfully engaging light-hearted fairy tale set in Middle Earth, full of adventure, magic, faerie folks, monsters, and epic deeds. The Lord of the Rings is a dark, involved tragedy, also set in Middle Earth, with some of the same characters, taking place after the events told in The Hobbit.
Unfortunately, Peter Jackson has recast The Hobbit as a direct prequel of LOTR. He's drawn from his own imagination, and from the various other story sources for Middle Earth like the Appendices of LOTR, and the Silmarillion to flesh out a more suspenseful story line. In short, he changed it, and not for the better. It's lost the wonder and innocence of the original.
The story additions work to fit the tale into the LOTR timeline, and I'm sure are intended to make us want to follow Thorin himself. I found myself thinking at every turn, "I know what's supposed to happen, but I don't know what's going to happen." That fact is about half the reason I wasn't thrilled with this movie. It's like going to a restaurant and expecting steak, but getting chicken.
The changes make the LOTR movies like Episodes 4, 5, and 6 of Star Wars, and now this movie is Episode 1 - the Phantom Menace. It's complete with Jar Jar Binks, aka Radagast the Brown. Radagast is a bumbling fool with a birds nest under his hat and the associated bird pooh dribbling down his face, driving a sled pulled by talking rabbits. It's Stupid. The classic scene are there, of course: the trolls (which aren't distracted by Gandalf but by Bilbo), Rivendell, the goblin cave, the riddle scene (though Bilbo's finding of the ring differs from the one we say in the LOTR movies), and the eagles as the dwarves escape the wargs... and that's where the film ends in a simple fade to black.
And then, there's the 3D... It's a gimmick, used too much throughout the movie. Sure, you get to fly with the eagles, but you also have to deal with vertigo in nearly every shot, and lots of cartoon-ish gags tossed in from plate juggling to a nearly endless cavern battle with roller coaster ride cinematography - all in the name of 3D (and a video game tie-in). Don't bother with the 3D tickets, you'll probably have a less crowded theater, too.
Overall, fun movie for a Saturday night at home with a few glasses of wine and friends to give it the MST3K treatment, but it's NOT The Hobbit I loved. Wait until its available at home with video on-demand services.… Expand