If you were fortunate enough to have watched The Hobbit two thirds of the way through and then suffered a medical emergency, you would have seen a very good movie. Fortunately, Peter Jackson seems to have found resources to draw upon when crafting his portrait of Middle Earth. Everything that happens in the Shire is good enough. Ian McKellen is so very good as Gandalf that one suspects that J.R.R. invented him. Martin Freeman presents us with a compelling Bilbo Baggins. If ever I read The Hobbit again, imagination will not have to labor at the faces.
The story develops well and the familiar parts of it early on remain familiar. A lot of the Trilogy is read back into the story and that is quite proper. Tolkien himself effectively rewrote the original work by his later magnum opus. I loved the scenes in Rivendell. They even called it Imladris at one point. Elrond and Galadriel were worth the entire production cost.
Also excellent was Bilbo’s encounter with Gollum. If you have read the books and watched Jackson’s Trilogy, you have to have special section of your heart reserved for Sméagol. This poor creature, whose soul is torn apart by the corruption of the Enemy’s Ring, who nonetheless never entirely loses his better self, is something to be feared and pitied. There but for the grace of God…
Unfortunately, Peter Jackson is still Peter Jackson. Most of the last third of the film was taken up by the main characters hanging on to something as they fell. In other words, it turned into King Kong. The characters cling to rock ledges as Godzilla-sized rock monsters battle. They cling to bridges as the bridges fall, endlessly, down canyons. In scenes that would shame a Buster Keaton film festival, our heroes always manage to keep on the right platform and land safely while an army of goblins always falls off just in time. Even when they are out of the goblin caverns, they get chased into falling trees and the action goes on and on. It is as if Jackson were somehow addicted to this ridiculous action trick and held off as long as he could; but once he got started he couldn’t stop.
I really wanted The Hobbit to be what it should have been. It was, for a good bit. Unfortunately, I didn’t go into shock in time. Please don’t let the rest of this thing be as absurd.