• The reunion of Tolkien and Jackson, over a decade after the start of The Lord of the Rings, fails to live up to the achievement of its predecessor (heavy lies the crown sort of thing here with the expectations). This eight-hour film (broken up into three more commercially digestible chunks) would be a decent enough film by any other comparison (it is in the archives)—but compared to the promise of the 2001-2004 gargantuan masterpiece, it falls woefully short.

on its own (which is certainly how you should judge it)- The Hobbit is worthy of praise and study

  • The similarities between the careers, the rise and fall, of Peter Jackson and George Lucas seems impossible to deny. They both had a promising start to their careers (films like Heavenly Creatures, American Graffiti), their big earth-shattering masterpiece (LOTR, Star Wars original trilogy), stumbled after that when trying to put their masterpiece behind them—and then tried again to reconnect with their best work (The Hobbit, Episodes 1-3) and ultimately falling short. On top of that- their obsession with technology (digital, high frame speed) seems to be as tragic as Gollum’s pull for gold/greed/ring or falling to the dark side. However, I won’t say it is quite as simple as that. Successful, sustainable (over decades) auteurs like Nolan, Cuaron, Ridley Scott, Fincher and others are obsessed with their cameras and nerd out on the technical aspects as well. Also others have made the change from film to digital quite successfully so I can’t say that change alone is the reason LOTR triumphs over The Hobbit.
  •  The Hobbit, like The Lord of the Rings, is a brilliant meditation on greed, the corruption of power- I’ll let others debate and discuss how much of Tolkien’s work is an allegory for The Great War, or the Jewish plight for their homeland (wandering without a home)
  • The Hobbit is uneven—there are scenes like the unfortunate drawn-out dishwashing scene in the first section but that’s quickly followed by the artistically notable “Misty Mountains Cold” song and shot (a stunner)

the notable “Misty Mountains Cold” song and shot (a stunner)

  • Though they are far fewer in number than LOTR – there are still remarkable frames in The Hobbit— the meeting of the White Council scene is absolutely spectacular for one

Though they are far fewer in number than LOTR – there are still remarkable frames in The Hobbit

…the meeting of the White Council scene is absolutely spectacular for one

  • Another highlight (here driven by the writing and acting) is the game of riddles between Martin Freeman’s Bilbo and Andy Serkis’ Gollum

Another highlight (here driven by the writing and acting) is the game of riddles between Martin Freeman’s Bilbo and Andy Serkis’ Gollum

  • In Desolation of Smaug – again there are these magnificent long shots through the Mirkwood forest— but soon after you’re let down by the belabored video-game-like riverboat rafting gratuitous action sequence
  • If you don’t want to blame Jackson’s penchant for relying on technology (this in sharp contrast to someone like Nolan) that’s fine—but you can’t argue with the end results. Ultimately this often looks more like Zemeckis’ Beowulf or Polar Express and less Jackson’s masterwork
  • Recommend but the film wouldn’t land in the top 10 of any of the years of its release