“The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey” or “Flim, son of Flam, this is Biff, son of Boff” by Caitlin McGrane

Posted on January 24, 2013


I will preface this review with a couple of disclaimers: I have tonsillitis and there were a bunch of small children in the screening I went to, which means my mood may have been slightly skewed.

The Hobbit has a special place in my heart. My dad read it to me as a child, in an attempt to get me interested in books (funnily enough, today the roles are very much reversed). I was terrifically excited when I heard Peter Jackson was bringing such a well-loved tome to the big screen. Particularly when one considers how much I sincerely love the Lord of the Rings (LOTR) films. So much so in fact, that I went to a LOTR marathon at the Astor once. All three. Back-to-back. It was worth it.



Anyway, I wasn’t convinced by this adaptation of The Hobbit. For starters, it was so long; three hours is too long for one instalment for a story like this. The presence of small children didn’t help the length, nor did the tonsillitis occupying my already-weary body. Another problem I had was that it is baggy. There are about a squillion characters, all with very similar names, which makes distinguishing them all very difficult. I also know that this is exactly what the book is like, so stop shouting at me. I’m just saying, if I am being distracted by the names in the film then it is way too fucking long, and the director has stopped caring about holding my attention.

I wanted so much to like it, and it is not without merit. Martin Freeman, Richard Armitage (and his massive prosthetic nose), Sir Ian McKellan, James Nesbitt and Barry Humphries are all members of an exquisite cast, who take to their roles with aplomb. Martin Freeman, in particular, is perfect as Bilbo; with a background in The Office and Sherlock he is ideally suited to a role in which comedy and drama must be played side-by-side. And can we all take a moment to appreciate how gorgeous Aidan Turner is? And Dean O’Gorman isn’t bad either (brothers Kili and Fili).

The hot twin dwarves!

The problem with The Hobbit is direction. Peter Jackson (bless ‘im) is a total Tolkein nerd, and I applaud him for that, but he would have done well to remember, that for all intents and purposes, The Hobbit is a children’s book. To those who disagree and say, ‘It was never too long, I could watch that all over again’, I take inspiration (and quotes) from Mark Kermode who responds, ‘Good, because you’re going to.’

Caitlin McGrane is a regular contributor and columnist, take a look at her other reviews. Do you agree with Caitlin? Tell us in the comments.