‘Hobbit’ a holiday gift for fans

“The Hobbit” might be the best holiday gift a Tolkien fan or fantasy-adventure lover could ask for. The film is iconic for those who have grown to love the series both as literature and film.
The moment Sir Ian McKellen as Gandalf the Grey steps on screen all memories of Peter Jackson’s “Lord of the Rings” trilogy will come flooding back. McKellen is an incredible presence as the powerful wizard. His aged face and commanding voice again bring to life one of the best characters in the series, and McKellen embraces the role the same as he did in the trilogy. Nothing about his performance appears to be phoned in.

Martin Freeman, newcomer to the series as Bilbo Baggins, fits perfectly into Jackson’s fantasy playground. Freeman masters the wit, heart, and hidden bravery within Bilbo. The best is yet to come for Freeman’s character, but for a first outing Freeman holds his own with the likes of Ian McKellen, Cate Blanchett, and Hugo Weaving.

Nine years separate “The Hobbit’s” release from the final installment in the “Lord of the Rings” trilogy. For those nine years fans have eagerly awaited the prequel and witnessed MGM’s bankruptcy, a switch in director from Guillermo del Toro to the original trilogy’s director Peter Jackson, and actors hesitant to sign on for a film that never seemed like a sure thing. All the complications and conflict aside, Jackson’s adaptation of J.R.R. Tolkien’s original Hobbit adventure manages to find a place proudly next to the trilogy by mixing both humor and action. Jackson takes certain liberties with the story and expands upon the original text by using Tolkien’s appendices and notes, but these additions don’t complicate the film. Instead it might encourage a new generation to read Tolkien’s work intended for his own children.

The film itself might not be appropriate for some children, though. Jackson does his best to pile on the action and with that comes sword fights and bloody orcs or goblins. The violence is fantastical, but it is present throughout, so be weary.

Jackson has constructed a film that is reminiscent of the original films, but feels wholly new with a stunning production design that features more warm colors than cool. This gives the film a sense of urgency and takes the audience on a fast-paced journey through the lands of Mordor. The camera pans across new worlds only mentioned by characters in the original trilogy and introduces fans to large battles that solidified the fate of one heroic dwarf, Thorin Oakenshield. Bilbo is still the focus of the film, but Thorin steals the film in moments of intense bravery and power. For a book that originally didn’t feature many action scenes, Jackson is able to find many moments to feature his lead dwarf. This will certainly have young viewers flocking to pick up Thorin’s action figure, because though he’s small in stature his emotional center is at least 10 feet tall.

Witness the majesty of “Lord of the Rings” in the form of Tolkien’s original tale about an unlikely hero and his journey to gain bravery and earn respect.

Patrick White

Movie fan Patrick White doesn't spare anyone's feelings when deciding if the latest Hollywood offering is trash or treasure. Catch his reviews on the latest theater and DVD releases in Saturday's paper.

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