Peter Jackson has released the first of three films based on The Hobbit by J. R. R. Tolkien. He is cashing in on his success with the Lord of the Rings trilogy. Many people are questioning how he can make three movies from one book when he made three movies from six books (three volumes of two books each). This has a simple answer, because he wants to.

If you are a purist, you will not like this movie. If you did not like Lord of the Rings, you will not like this movie. If you liked Lord of the Rings, but do not like humor in this setting, you will not like this movie. If however, you are willing to accept Jackson’s interpretation of the book and understand that the book was written as a children’s story as opposed to the Lord of the Rings which is a young adult story, you will like the movie.

Like Jackson’s other efforts, the scenery is spectacular, the characters are unique and the story is well told. He has added characters and developed back story into the main plot. He has altered character development and situations both as artistic license and to make it something that can be shown on a movie screen. There are just some things that can be written that cannot be translated into film.

In my opinion, the characters of Bilbo and Gollum are portrayed spectacularly well. The characters of the Dwarves who are actually developed (there are 13 of them) deviate from the book, but not necessarily in a bad way. In the book, many of the dwarves are not sympathetic to others, while they are much more humane in the movie.

The comic relief is almost too much. In the Lord of the Rings, Merry and Pippin provide breaks in an otherwise depressing series of events. In The Hobbit, the serious events provide breaks from the comic relief. Again this is acceptable as this is a children’s story.

Ian McKellen is by far the best part of the movie as he portrays Gandalf the Grey again. It almost seems he was born to play this part. Cate Blanchett, Christopher Lee and Hugo Weaving return in their previous roles as Galadriel, Saruman, and Elrond. Although Elrond is in the book, the others are not, again this is part of Jackson’s effort to bring the back story to the foreground.

Elijah Wood and Ian Holm return with cameos as Frodo and an old Bilbo to bring everyone back to middle earth. Martin Freeman plays the young Bilbo, but Richard Armitage as Thoren Oakenshield is by far the star of this movie. The actor and the character take center stage from early in the film to the closing credits.

All in all, this is a good film. If you fall into any of the “will not like” categories I listed in the first paragraph, wait for it to come out on video, but I still recommend it even for you. If you do not fall into the “will not like” categories, this is one movie that falls into worth the full price at the theatre.


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