Heads up, Middle-earth fans: The beloved companion to the Lord of the Rings trilogy, ‘The Hobbit’ is coming to theaters this December. It will be in two parts: Part 1 will be called ‘An Unexpected Journey,’ Part 2 is ’There and Back Again’ and will be out next December. ’The Hobbit’ tells of a treasure hunt between Bilbo Baggins (the uncle of LOTR star Frodo) and 13 dwarves. It is a much more light-hearted story than the Rings trilogy — more about personal growth and discovery than good versus evil — but expect its share of trolls, giants, and goblins. It will be interesting to see if Jackson leaves ‘The Hobbit’ as a relatively harmless and fun fairytale or tries to give it the same gravity as the trilogy.
I can already predict some obstacles Jackson will face. First, Bilbo (played by Martin Freeman) has 13 companions. Some fans complain that in Jackson’s ‘The Fellowship of the Ring,’ Frodo’s nine companions were introduced too quickly without time for viewers to develop a bond with them. My own complaint is that Merry and Pippin were treated as identical two-dimensional characters. It’s likely a similar problem will arise in ‘The Hobbit’: All 13 companions will be of the same race and with similar tongue-twistery names (Oin and Gloin, Dori and Nori, Fili and Kili, and more). It won’t be easy to portray 13 individual personalities. Even in the book, Tolkien used the dwarves more or less interchangeably, but that could be more of an issue in the movie.
Also, as with any book-to-movie adaptation, there’s much debate about which scenes would be cut, which characters would be altered, and which plot points would be glossed over. The book is an almost day-by-day account of Bilbo & Co.’s adventures. Due to time restraints, something will have to be cut. To me, I feel like Jackson will have more flexibility and forgiveness with scene editing in ‘The Hobbit’ than he did in LOTR. In ‘The Hobbit,’ Bilbo’s trials are unrelated — trolls one day, goblins the next, but no united evil front to face. In LOTR, each new obstacle is entwined with previous and future obstacles, making nearly every encounter important to the overall plot. My requests: Show me wargs, show me goblins, show me trolls, and show me some Elvish heart-throbs.
Speaking of Elvish heart-throbs, it’s been told that Legolas (Orlando Bloom) will be making an appearance in ‘The Hobbit,’ though he’s absent in the book. It’s probable other Rings characters will make the cut as well. This may be considered a plus for those watching ‘The Hobbit’ for background information on the beloved characters in the trilogy, but it may anger purist Tolkien fans. My feeling is that it’s fine to connect ‘The Hobbit’ with the trilogy, but too many non-essential characters will muddle the plot.
A character that is needed but should be handled with moderation is the strange creature Gollum. Bilbo’s chance meeting with Gollum leads to Bilbo’s (and then Frodo’s) possession of the One Ring. Taken in the context of LOTR, this is a very monumental moment. However, in ‘The Hobbit’, it’s just one adventure among many. It’s useful for its power to make the wearer invisible and helps Bilbo in many tight spots, but there’s no whisper of inner evil. It is unknown whether Jackson will leave the finding of the ring as a minor detail or if he’ll elevate it into something more important.
My hope is that Jackson will let ‘The Hobbit’ be what it is: Neither a prequel nor a commentary on the darker trilogy to follow. Let it be a fun bedtime tale, a treasure hunt full of personal discovery and a hardcore dragon fight. Just don’t forget those Elves!
Directed by Peter Jackson, ‘The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey’ stars Cate Blanchett, Ian McKellen, Luke Evans, Elijah Wood, Martin Freeman, Andy Serkis, Hugo Weaving, Orlando Bloom, Christopher Lee, Richard Armitage and Ian Holm.
‘The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey’ Trailer