Most people in the world love Peter Jackson’s adaptation of the “Lord of the Rings” but even the most ardent fans agree that they’re slightly too long (with “Return of the King” seemingly having about 50 different endings). So when he announced that he would be making three movies out of JRR Tolkein’s prequel – a relatively slim affair aimed at children – I was wondering how much more padding Jackson would have to add. The first part of his prequel trilogy is definitely long (it clocks in at almost three hours). But Jackson has managed to retain the magic he created in the first three movies.
Bilbo Baggins (Martin Freeman) is an unassuming young Hobbit who gets a visit from Gandalf (Ian McKellen) and a bunch of dwarfs whom he was not expecting. He soon finds himself on a quest to help Dwarf Prince Thorin (Richard Armitage) lead his band of followers to the Lonely Mountains and reclaim their homeland from the dragon Smaug. But first they must make a long and dangerous trek encountering trolls, orcs and elves whilst Bilbo will encounter a curious creature by the name of Gollum (Andy Serkis) for the very first time.
This is very much business as usual for Jackson, bringing the world of Middle Earth to vivid life with all the detail of the first three movies. Controversially, he’s shot the film at 48 frames per second (twice the speed of normal film) to make the film seem more realistic. Sadly, I’m firmly in the camp of the opinion that it makes it feel like a TV show and I prefer the ‘gloss’ of film, but the 3D is spectacular enough to make me forget about it as the film goes on.
Performances are all good but the stand out is Serkis as Gollum and the interplay between him and Freeman is the highlight of the film.
Despite reservations, the film does speed by and this is a perfect big movie to end the year on.