Bil’s rating (out of 5): BB. USA/New Zealand, 2012. New Line Cinema, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, WingNut Films. Screenplay by Fran Walsh, Philippa Boyens, Peter Jackson, Guillermo Del Toro, based on the novel The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien. Cinematography by Andrew Lesnie. Produced by Carolynne Cunningham, Peter Jackson, Fran Walsh, Zane Weiner. Music by Howard Shore. Production Design by Dan Hennah. Costume Design by Bob Buck, Ann Maskrey, Richard Taylor. Film Editing by Jabez Olssen. Academy Awards 2012. Phoenix Film Critics Awards 2012. Washington Film Critics Awards 2012.
It’s always a shock when a hack job rip-off of a great movie is perpetuated by the same filmmaker who made the brilliant original, but that is the case with this attempt to recapture the glory of the wonderful Lord Of The Rings trilogy. Peter Jackson has inexplicably split J.R.R. Tolkien’s adventurous novel into three extended parts and without much justification: the novel’s plot barely justifies two and could easily be done in one extended film. Instead this tale, a delightful quest about a miniature hobbit accompanying a group of dwarves to slay a dragon and reclaim their kingdom, uses every possible excuse to delay its progress (the opening sequence, where the dwarves show up at Bilbo Baggins’ house and force him to treat them to dinner, takes up an ungodly thirty minutes of running time). Scenes and sequences invented for the film only dampen the experience: what is supposed to be light and fun is given a pretentious level of gravitas that the source material does not justify, and what was a streamlined sense of progress in the first three films is here a mess that never really feels like it is working towards a set goal. Jackson filmed the movie in an experimental process of 48 frames per second, increasing the sharpness of the image (an odd choice given that many of the actors are ten years older than they were the last time they played characters who are supposed to be younger, and it often shows), but neither this nor the hard work by the technical crew, whose work shines on screen, makes up for bad writing and lazy direction. Watch it somewhere warm or your nap will be uncomfortable.