I have mixed feelings about The Hobbit. I never thought anyone could make a worthy film adaption of The Lord of the Rings, but Peter Jackson more than proved me wrong. And while I think The Lord of the Rings is a much better story, I always felt that The Hobbit would make a better movie. It's a simple adventure story with great pacing, abundant action beats, and epic money scenes. Who better to bring it to the silver screen than Peter Jackson?
There probably isn't anyone better, and the problem is that Jackson knows it. Where The Lord of the Rings was Jackson proving to legions of Tokien fans that he could faithfully bring the saga to the big screen, The Hobbit feels more like a film Jackson made because he now believes fans would rather see his vision rather than Tolkien's. It makes for one of the most bloated, indulgent films I've ever seen. Let's put this into perspective. Of the four books, The Hobbit and the three in the Lord of the Rings, The Hobbit is the shortest, most concise, and has the simplest story. Yet, it's being stretched into a film that is the length of the entire Lord of the Rings trilogy.
Now let me be clear. The Hobbit is not a bad film. It's very good. Those who are die-hard fans of the Lord of the Rings will find much to love as Jackson layers on helping after helping of additional lore; so much so that it feels like scenes in the movie that are taken from the actual book are less than those that aren't. Indeed, it seems very clear that Peter Jackson is taking much from Tolkien's other writings to create an expanded story that transforms The Hobbit into another part of the Lord of the Rings (which it originally wasn't). I honestly feel this film would be better named, The Lord of the Rings: An Unexpected Journey, because it feels more to do with that then it does the original tale. As I said, this doesn't make it a bad film. It makes it a film that sacrifices The Hobbit in order to give us more Lord of the Rings. Sadly, we can now only wonder what a true Hobbit adaptation would have been like.
So while fans of the series will have much to like, there are still the inherent problems Jackson's new vision brings. If you thought the Extended Editions of the Lord of the Rings were drawn out, prepare yourself as The Hobbit feels like an extended, extended edition. While all the epic moments of the book are faithfully rendered on screen, Jackson fills the gaps between them with so much extraneous lore and backstory that the ride feels very disjointed, and sometimes it just drags. There is just way too much non-essential footage; repeating the beginning of The Fellowship of the Ring was totally unnecessary and should have been cut for an Extended Edition DVD release.
When all is said and done, I really enjoyed the film despite it's problems. Jackson has so superbly brought Middle Earth to life that it's a pleasure just to see it again. And while Jackson may have added a ton to the story that wasn't there before, he doesn't depart from the scenes in the book. I think one 3-hour movie faithfully telling only the story of The Hobbit would have made for a much better film, but then I wouldn't have two more to look forward to. Hence, my mixed feelings. While The Hobbit isn't the greatness that was the first three films, it's certainly no Star Wars Prequel. This, and hopefully the next two, feel worthy additions to the saga.
I saw this film in 24FPS in 2D on a giant screen an recommend seeing it that way.