The Hobbit This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

December 31, 2012
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Some are calling it a splendid success, and others label it an unexpected failure. Despite these extremes, most critics are settling in the middle. Peter Jackson's first installment of J.R.R. Tolkien's The Hobbit was definitely … unexpected.

For those who do not know the plot, it is a children's tale set in the fictional world of Middle Earth. We are introduced to a gentle, peaceful ­population of small beings called hobbits. “The Hobbit” is the story of Bilbo Baggins, who is just another hobbit, until the wizard Gandalf sends him on a grand adventure.

The cast is great, and I can hardly complain about any performance. Ian McKellen and Martin Freeman deliver solid performances as Gandalf and Bilbo respectively. Richard Armitage brings Thorin to a whole new level. His character, forgive the cliché, comes to life in the movie. I despise the haughty dwarf prince of the book, but Armitage's Thorin is noble and honorable with a touch of the tragic. The motley crew of dwarves is a bit like a squabbling gaggle of geese, as they were in the novel. And although the plot is a very different interpretation of the story, it still flows well, with some added help from Howard Shore's magnificent score. I had the music stuck in my head for a week!

Unfortunately, some parts of the movie seem as though Tolkien's beloved children's tale has been spun into a menacing “Lord of the Rings” look-alike. The film takes on the darker tone of the “LoR” trilogy, leaving behind the cheerfulness of the book too quickly. The only positive aspect is that these darker overtones are consistent and rather cleverly woven into the plot.

I thought the main antagonist, Azog the Orc chieftain, is a delightful addition (in the book he had already died). My only complaint is that he ­doesn't need to be animated.

Jackson employs a lot of technology, but much of it could have been achieved with old-school techniques. Having human actors encased in stifling goblin costumes would have made the movie seem more down to earth. And down to earth is what we're shooting for: Middle Earth, no matter how fantastical and far-removed, must still bear resemblance to our world for us to stay connected. Some scenes are too unrealistic, including the trek through the goblin tunnels and Radagast acting as an organic rabbit-driving Santa. These had me wondering how the dwarves could make it through completely unscathed!

One thing the film conveyed very well is the novel's core theme: character development. “The Hobbit” can be described as a sort of late bildungsroman, a coming-of-age story. Through these wild and wacky experiences, stuffy and dignified Bilbo learns to open his eyes to the world around him.

Overall, the film is a loose parallel to the children's book (mind you, this is not a children's movie). Many additions are humorous, with attempts to return the to the book's jovial tone. Even die-hard Tolkien fans should give it a shot, ­because film is a completely different medium than text.

I recommend seeing the “LoR” trilogy first, as it will bring the enormity of Tolkien's work into perspective. It also gives an idea of Jackson's style, which has greatly influenced our interpretation of Middle Earth.

Despite some shortcomings, I thoroughly enjoyed “The Hobbit.” It took me back to where “The Lord of the Rings” had left me hanging; back to the beautiful world of Middle Earth. There is a childish wisdom in this fantastic world that wows me every time.

This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.

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This article has 5 comments. Post your own now!

snelzar said...
Nov. 20, 2014 at 1:57 pm
i can tell
BrandybuckTook said...
Feb. 25, 2013 at 6:12 pm
Gah! I absolutely loved the movie and the book! I am a HUGE fan. (If you can't tell by the username) Your review was pretty thorough! Nice analysis!
snelzar replied...
Nov. 20, 2014 at 1:58 pm
i can can tell
Ailsa This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Jan. 7, 2013 at 7:50 pm
 i think i wanted more about the flim but this was a great review thanks :D
Lavinia This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. replied...
Jan. 8, 2013 at 5:23 pm
:) Thanks! I will keep that in mind in the future!
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