I have finally seen the film. Like many other people I talked to about it prior to seeing it, I was afraid that it would be too stretched out and boring. The book itself is boring despite its relative thinness (being a kids’ book after all), let alone a nine-hour dramatization – or so I thought. It’s not like that at all. It’s pretty to look at and funny and exciting and in the end I sincerely wished I had the sequels at hand – I’d have watched them too, and right after.
The LOTR films I watched two or three times, and on the last attempt, I found I no longer had the patience, they no longer held my attention. Nevertheless, it always seemed that everything in them was inevitably compressed; that nothing short of a whole hour per chapter could ever do the books justice. When I heard that The Hobbit too would be made in three three-hour long parts, it definitely sounded weird and exaggerated; the book simply doesn’t have that much material. Reading it aloud, word by word, would take less time than that, which doesn’t sound right. Not to mention the injustice of it. Why should the inferior work get so much more screen-time in comparison?
Turns out that a significant part of that screen-time is devoted to rendering events that are completely absent from the book itself, and are only mentioned later, in LOTR, sort of in passing. It’s exactly the kind of stuff that was squeezed out of the LOTR films out of necessity. For example, Radagast’s discovery of the evil nestling in the ruins of Dol Guldur (was really he who made the discovery?) is rendered in some detail, as well as one session of the White Council. Needless to say, I liked that a lot.
I was satisfied with the rest too, plus/minus a minor nitpick. The dwarves are a bit too cartoonish – all except Torin, who’s every bit as brooding and regal as I imagined him. The Shire suffers from oversaturated colors, and Rivendell is oddly underwhelming for some reason. There are some entirely implausible moments in the scene where goblins are chasing the dwarves under the mountain; don’t remember anything that caught the eye in that sense in LOTR (other than Legolas and his fancy moves). But there were some brilliant bits too. The grandiose introduction, and of course, the scene with the eagles.
The music is good, especially the dwarven theme, which has been on repeat in my head since watching. But I don’t approve of the way some of the themes from LOTR were reused. To use The Shire theme in The Shire was fine, of course; but following Torin’s march with the ring-wraith theme is just plain wrong and confusing as hell. There were other, lesser occurrences of inappropriate theme-attribution throughout that I wished were turned into variations at least. Reusing – recycling – music seems so cheap next to the unimaginable funds and work-hours that went into the visuals. But still, an awesome soundtrack.
All in all, if you’re like I was, doubting The Hobbit is worth your while – don’t. It’s much more like LOTR than the book is, and if you liked LOTR, you’ll probably enjoy this too.