1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
"Elen sila lumenn' omentielvo" - a bright star shines indeed on our meeting with this new great, wonderful adventure...,
This review is from: The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey (DVD + UV Copy(  (DVD)
I was very impressed by "Hobbit". Below you will find the reasons why I liked this film so much, with some limited SPOILERS.
1. A successful combination of great fidelity to Tolkien's vision with some skilful alterations. In second part of LOTR ("Two Towers") Peter Jackson allowed himself some very considerable liberties with the characters of king Theoden of Rohan and captain Faramir of Gondor, and as a consequence he harmed this one part of his great trilogy. He clearly learned his lesson and in this film, even if there are some differences between the scenario and the original book, those modifications were done with a great skill, good taste and in deep respect with the general vision contained in Tolkien's books in general.
Amongst those successful modifications are a greater development of the story of Smaug's coming to Erebor, of dwarves wanderings and their wars with Orcs from Moria (those last elements are taken from original annexes to "Lord of the Rings") and a larger inclusion of scary and extremely creepy Dol Guldur fortress (which is only briefly mentioned in the book). There is also a longer and more dramatic chapter devoted to Great Goblin's caves, a brief but impressive look at stone giants (creatures only suggested in Tolkien's lore) and last but not least, some real screen time devoted to Radagast the Brown, an extremely odd but very, very attaching character. Radagast also shows in this film that he is definitely a force to be reckoned with and not just a sidekick - although, as Saruman venomously suggests it, he also appears to be all the time "tripping on 'shrooms"...)))
There is also more place devoted to the White Council (with Saruman, Galadriel, Elrond and Gandalf present and Radagast and Cirdan absent) and those passages come in fact from the annexes to LOTR rather than from "Hobbit" itself. Finally, even if many good jokes are included, the general tone of this film is more serious than in the book, with the dwarves being a little less comically represented and their leader, prince Thorin Oakenshield, being a much more impressive character, conserving a very great dignity and majesty even when being stuffed in a troll's bag...)))
Finally, the leader of Moria Orcs at the time of dwarves expedition is still Azog the Defiler rather than his son Bolg - but I forgive willingly Peter Jackson this change, as Azog is a really IMPRESSIVE creature! On another hand, and this is one of the very few things I found a little objectionnable, Orcs seem to not fear sunlight in this film (Goblins of Misty Mountains on another hand still fear the light of the day) - but after all it is a rather minor thing.
As you can see Peter Jackson changed the story for the needs of his "Hobbit" trilogy, but he did it with the greatest care and by showing this time the greatest respect to the general spirit of Tolkien's works.
2. A great mastery of the visual aspect of the film. The images of Middle Earth are breath-taking, the creatures (good and evil) are excellent and the costumes and weaponry simply perfect.
3. Gollum; All the chapter about Bilbo's meeting with Gollum is pure perfection and in this film we finally can realise how REALLY DANGEROUS this creature is!
4. Tom Troll, William Troll and Bert Troll. Hilarious and scary in the same time, their moment in the film is simply a treasure.
5. Goblins of the Misty Mountains. In this film we have a real insight into goblin's government (tyranny), administration (anarchy), strategy (mostly blunt force trauma) and communications, although the little pearl about this last point, you will have to discover by yourself...)))
6. Dwarves/elves mutual cultural shock - one of the best scenes of the film...)))
7. Music. It mostly uses the same themes than in LOTR (ex. Shire theme, Rivendell theme, Ring theme, Company theme, etc.) which gives a familiar feeling of continuity, with just enough new elements to underline the fact that we are in a different chapter of Tolkien's tales.
8. Action scenes - they are many and of excellent quality, thanks to some modifications of the story by Peter Jackson (see above). They help also to set a rather fast rhythm of events, once the initial Shire chapter is concluded. If you think that to make a trilogy out of "The Hobbit" Peter Jackson had to drag things and slow the events, well, think again... This is a reasonably long film but I didn't feel the time pass.
9. Actors. Unlike in LOTR II "Two Towers" (when he seriously blundered by casting Miranda Otto as Eowyn), in this film Peter Jackson didn't commit any mistakes in the choice of actors. Martin Freeman is more than perfect in his interpretation of Bilbo - for me, after two minutes, he WAS Bilbo. All right, OK, maybe they just should have given him ten pounds more around the waist in the first part of the trilogy, but this is just a detail. Ian McKellen is of course perfect as Gandalf. Richard Armitage as Thorin is THE revelation of this film. Hugo Weaving and Christopher Lee are of course brilliant - and Cate Blanchett swept me of my feet in this film (something that didn't happen in the LOTR...).
The one objection I could have is that I didn't quite picture Balin, the friendliest of dwarves, as being that old - but this is a very minor detail.
10. Clever little details of the scenario. Peter Jackson put in the scenario some little but significant details which explain better some important questions, like why did Gandalf wanted SO MUCH to help Thorin Oakenshield in his quest and why exactly did he choose precisely Bilbo Baggins as the "burglar" for the Company. Those little details didn't figure in the book, but they are VERY faithful to the spirit of Tolkien's story - and it is a very precious thing...
CONCLUSION: Since attacking the LOTR Peter Jackson learned a lot in last 10 years and he put all this experience to good use in "The Hobbit" - and the result is immediately visible on the screen. This film is on the same very high level of quality as LOTR I and III and BETTER than LOTR II. In some aspects he even did a better job than in LOTR, because here he had to manage a Company larger than the Fellowship of the Ring (15 characters instead of 9) - and he succeeded very, very well indeed. I loved this film and I cannot wait to see "The desolation of Smaug".