Okay, I originally wanted to get this review done back when the movie was in theaters and fresh in everyone’s mind, but we’re going to have to settle for the upcoming BluRay release to refresh it for everyone! You know, life and what not.
After the achievement that was “The Return of the King,” the standard is set pretty high for The Hobbit. How do you follow-up the first Fantasy picture to ever win best picture? I mean, come on, the Academy didn’t even give best picture to The Wizard of Oz (okay, granted, it was up against Gone With the Wind, Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, Stagecoach, and Of Mice and Men). More than that, how do you follow-up on the book that defined pretty much the whole of high fantasy after it? While The Lord of the Rings was an epic tale, The Hobbit is the granddaddy of pretty much all high fantasy.
While I reviewed a good number of the LotR sets, a sad confession is that I’ve never actually read the books. I’ve tried before, but I’ve always held that Tolkien was a brilliant linguist and a below-average writer. However, I did read the Hobbit twice… once in High School, and once in college for a Fantasy Literature class (never let it be said that a Creative Writing doesn’t have it’s uses… okay, say it a lot, because it’s very true, but that was a very cool class). And that experience really solidified in my mind that I felt about Tolkien the exact same way I felt about Michael Crichton: great ideas and concepts… but iffy stories at the very best.
Now that I’ve fired a broadside across fans of The Hobbit and Jurassic Park like, let me say that the movies that were born out of those ideas have been fairly awesome. The Lord of the Rings can be called a work of absolute art. It’s one of those movies that actually gets better when you peel away the illusion of how it was done (unlike, say, the PT Star Wars films that are basically a bunch of actors standing in front of a whole lot of green screens). More than that, the LotR trilogy captured the essence of what Tolkien put into his books (at least the stuff that I could bring myself to read), and it remains to be seen if The Hobbit can do the same.
Oh, and obviously, there will be some spoilers ahead. Read at your own risk. Also, there will undoubtably be jokes about walking… and it’s going to be a long, long, review (like a lot of the walking scenes).