Originally I was going to review each Hobbit film separately, but having watched them all, I’ve decided to review the trilogy as a whole. It is after all, intended as one big movie right? Right?!
So, what can be said of Peter Jackson’s return to Middle Earth? How does it stack up to the Lord of the Rings Trilogy (and is it fair to compare the two sagas?)
The first thing of note is that if you have seen Lord of the Rings prior to The Hobbit, there are several nods to it throughout the new trilogy, that nonetheless don’t require prior viewing of Lord of the Rings for the films to work. As a standalone piece of work, it does work, in terms of setting up the characters, and telling their story.
This doesn’t mean there aren’t problems. The principle cast of dwarfs numbers some 13-strong, plus Bilbo Baggins, plus Gandalf, plus other supporting characters that turn up over the course of the trilogy. As a result of this, some characters are inevitably caricatures and lack any meaningful backstory or narrative, even with three films in which to tell the story. The secondary storyline concerning the Necromancer (later revealed to be Sauron) seems completely disjointed with the main plot (though, this does tie in somewhat in The Battle of the Five Armies), but it does provide a little insight into the histories of the powers that reside in Middle Earth.
The weakest part of this trilogy is An Unexpected Journey, which seems to wane during the middle, picking up the pace as the film draws toward its conclusion. To me, the trilogy is at its best whenever Smaug is on the screen – Benedict Cumberbatch lends malice to this monstrous beast, which is impressively realised.
You cannot help but warm to Martin Freeman’s Bilbo, who sees the world very differently to his companions. He is driven to do what is right, even if his Dwarfish friends don’t share in his opinions, and puts himself in harm’s way for his friends, despite his small stature. Sir Ian Mckellen lends gravitas to his familiar role as Gandalf, and it’s clear that director Jackson has poured a lot of love into his craft. I cannot say that The Hobbit Trilogy is as good as the Lord of the Rings Trilogy, but it has been maligned in some quarters, unfairly so in my opinion. It is worth watching, and it will enhance viewing of Lord of the Rings as well.