bill bodkin gives you five reasons why the hobbit was awesome…
The Hobbit posed an interesting question to fans of Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings films — can you really go there and back again?
It’s a legit question (and a somewhat clever reference to Tolkien) — can we, those who flocked to the LOTR films on opening night, who bought the DVDs, then the special edition DVDs and then the special edition blu-ray DVDs, become as emotionally invested in the prequels to LOTR as we are with Jackson’s original trilogy? Would we still have our mouths agape as we gazed upon sweeping, epic shots of Middle-Earth? Would we be able to fall in love with this new cast of characters like we did with the Fellowship? Would we care? Would we be let down? For a lot of us the scars of the Star Wars prequels have still not healed.
Luckily, this is Peter Jackson’s baby. The world of Tolkien is his domain, his cinematic hometown. He knows the land, the history, the characters as if he created them himself. And that’s where audiences really luck out, they’re able to see Jackson’s love for Tolkien’s material pour out onto the screen, just like they did 10 years ago with the LOTR series.
And it’s not like Jackson reinvented the wheel to make The Hobbit. No, he used a very simple formula and executed it to perfection.
1. Find An Actor Who Can Carry The Emotional Weight of the Films: For years Martin Freeman has been one of the most underrated actors out there. He can be the charmingly befuddled Brit (see Love Actually) but he can also play it dark, cynical and neurotic as evidenced in BBC’s Sherlock. As the young Bilbo Baggins, Freeman is the film’s emotional core. He’s our guide through Middle-Earth, re-introducing us to the marvels and wonders…and of course the dangers that are out there. Freeman wonderfully balances comedy and horror, drama and wonderment throughout the film, sometimes in the scene and it’s all done so effortlessly. He’s someone you can really feel for, really get behind — in essence he captures the best of all four hobbits from the LOTR series and that’s pretty damn impressive.
2. Take That Strong Character Actor and Let Him Loose: Much like he did with Viggo Mortensen, Jackson has taken an actor you kinda recognize, Richard Armitage (Cinemax’s Strike Back, Captain America) and allowed him to be the baddest badass he possibly can be. Armitage is just awesome as the dwarf who could be king, Thorin. You can almost taste the vengeance and fire that Thorin has inside of him — it’s literally palpable. Armitage also proves that he, like Mortensen, is more than capable of being the star quarterback of any action sequence.
3. Remind Everyone That Middle-Earth is Mindbogglingly Beautiful: Revisiting The Shire and Rivendell was just as wondrous and beautiful as it was when we first laid eyes on it.
4. Wow Them With Action Sequences: If you weren’t impressed with the rock giants beating the living hell out of each other, nothing is ever going to impress you. That sequence alone was beyond thunderdome in terms of a.) complete surprise b.) animation and c.) intensity. Putting our band of heroes in the center of the action, literally clinging to the mountains for their lives, was a tense stroke of genius. Then the goblin action sequence was fantastic. Watching the dwarves battle through a labyrinth of goblins was the type of grandiose epic battle sequence we have missed on the big screen. Then of course, the climax, wow. The intensity and emotion of the characters actually was more impressive than any of the actual fighting.
5. Ian McKellan as Gandalf and Andy Serkis as Gollum: What more can you say.
In the end, The Hobbit, not only is worthy of being included in the cannon of Peter Jackson’s original Lord of the Rings films, but it stands on its own as a tremendously fun, touching and fantastical film. It’s great escapist fare that is still grounded in terrific dialogue, engrossing characters and a storyline that’ll have you chomping at the bit for the next two films to hit the street.