Friday, 28 December 2012

The Hobbit

Many years ago, when my two boys were quite young, I remember reading them 'The Hobbit' as a bed-time story. They both loved the story, and my young son, James, got quite upset near the end of the book when one of the dwarves died. This story has been an important part of our family.

When Peter Jackson adapted 'The Lord of the Rings' for the cinema, we lapped it up, immersing ourselves in the epic tale of adventure, friendship & obsession; of the triumph of good over evil despite almost insurmountable odds. We even bought into the extended DVDs, which have provided hours of entertainment in the years since.

So when it was announced the Jackson was to adapt the prequel to LOTR, 'The Hobbit', for the cinema, there was much anticipation. Then the film was extended to 2 films, then 3, spread over the next three Christmases. The boys managed to see the first film on or shortly after its general release, but it wasn't until yesterday that my wife & I got to see it. And we went for the full package: 3D IMAX, which may have been a mistake.

Although a fully immersive experience, the 48-frame IMAX film caused great problems for my wife, who had to leave the theatre after about 15 minutes feeling dizzy and nauseous: I too felt a little queasy, but managed to sit through the 3 hours of the film. It was a good film, with stunning special effects (as one would expect of Jackson), but I have to say that it did seem to drag a little - well, quite a lot, actually. My feeling was that it was about an hour too long, and would've lost nothing if the pace could've been quickened a little. If the further two films are as long and ploddy, then it may not be the enjoyable experience that I, and many others, had hoped it would be.

It's not a bad film - Martin Freeman is very good in the title role as young Bilbo Baggins, and you do feel as if you care what happens to the company of dwarves as the story progresses - but I don't think it's going to be winning too many awards outside the Special Effects categories.