The Hobbit (trilogy)

THE HOBBIT: AN UNEXPECTED JOURNEY (12)
D: Peter Jackson
Warner Bros./New Line/MGM/Wingnut (Peter Jackson, Carolynne Cunningham, Fran Walsh & Zane Weiner)
US/New Zealand 2012
169 mins

Fantasy/Adventure

W: Peter Jackson, Fran Walsh, Phillipa Boyens & Guillermo del Toro [based on the novel by J. R. R. Tolkien]
DP: Andrew Lesnie
Ed: Jabez Olsson
Mus: Howard Shore
PD: Grant Major

Martin Freeman (Bilbo Baggins), Ian McKellen (Gandalf), Richard Armitage (Thorin Oakenshield), James Nesbitt (Bofur), Ken Stott (Balin), Cate Blanchett (Galadriel), Christopher Lee (Saruman), Hugo Weaving (Elrond), Andy Serkis (Gollum)

Clearly, Peter Jackson is a huge fan of the fantasy novels of J. R. R. Tolkien and done the author's work a huge justice when he previously brought The Lord Of The Rings trilogy to the big screen.
The drawn out final part to that trilogy proved that Jackson didn't want to leave Middle Earth and it was only a matter of time when he returned- which he did with this prequel trilogy focusing on the adventures of Bilbo Baggins (The Hobbit) in his younger days. The first film of which ties in events from The Lord Of The Rings trilogy, and while it does such a great job depicting the fictional land of Middle Earth with such meticulous detail, this segment to The Hobbit trilogy seems strung out and elongated beyond it's story and takes an absolute age to get going and build any kind of momentum. Perhaps it would have been more interesting to see the originally intended director (Guillermo Del Toro) do a fresh take on the source material. Nevertheless, Jackson's love letter to Tolkien & the New Zealand tourist board goes on, and it is a very lovingly crafted piece of work, especially in terms of locations and the characters.
Ian McKellen, reprising his role as Gandalf the Grey, was always the perfect choice for the great wizard and Martin Freeman does quite well as a young Bilbo Baggins (Ian Holm portrayed the character in Lord Of The Rings). Even Andy Serkis is back as Gollum, albeit for a brief cameo, in a scene which neatly ties into events from Lord Of The Rings.
All the visual effects are as good as ever and the recreation of Middle Earth really is perfect. It's just a huge shame that the narrative drags on, building up a story which just ends with not much happening, only to be continued in the next segment of the trilogy.
Clearly the novel was split into three parts to make as much money as possible from the franchise, but it's easily forgivable to give this film a skip and move straight onto the next, which was a vast improvement.
6/10

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey
The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey
THE HOBBIT: THE DESOLATION OF SMAUG (12)
D: Peter Jackson
Warner Bros./New Line/MGM/Wingnut (Peter Jackson, Carolynne Cunningham, Fran Walsh & Zane Weiner)
US/New Zealand 2013
161 mins

Fantasy/Adventure

W: Peter Jackson, Fran Walsh, Phillipa Boyens & Guillermo del Toro [based on the novel by J. R. R. Tolkien]
DP: Andrew Lesnie
Ed: Jabez Olsson
Mus: Howard Shore
PD: Grant Major

Martin Freeman (Bilbo Baggins), Ian McKellen (Gandalf), Richard Armitage (Thorin Oakenshield), Evangeline Lilly (Tauriel), Orlando Bloom (Legolas), Lee Pace (Thranduil), Luke Evans (Bard), Ken Stott (Balin), James Nesbitt (Bofur), Benedict Cumberbatch (Smaug)

What was Peter Jackson thinking when he subjected us to the first film, which was practically two & a half hours of character building and the odd tribute to The Lord Of The Rings. The only scene of note was when Bilbo Baggins discovers Gollum & the 'ring', which we already knew by watching the LOTR trilogy anyway.
In honesty, you could skip the first movie and be justly rewarded. You'd miss out on a bit of back story but you could easily pick it up and enjoy some brilliant scenes of action and adventure.
Bilbo, Gandalf & the dwarves are continuing their quest across Middle Earth from the first film and face peril at every step, across an enchanted forest, a kingdom of surly wood elves (including Legolas - Orlando Bloom) and a floating village, before they eventually penetrate the dragon's (Smaug's) lair.
As in the previous film and The Lord Of The Rings trilogy, meticulous effort and sweeping photography transports you to the mythical Middle Earth convincingly and the visual effects, makeup, costumes and production design are as good as they can get, although it's a shame that CGI has replaced makeup when bringing some orcs to the screen. The CGI animation to bring Smaug to life, however, is absolutely top notch and Benedict Cumberbatch was a very good casting decision for the dragon's powerful, creepy voice.
The ending sets up the third film nicely, although it's a shame about the insipid Ed Sheeran song ('I See Fire') which plays over the end credits.
7/10

The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug
The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug
THE HOBBIT: THE BATTLE OF THE FIVE ARMIES (12)
D: Peter Jackson
Warner/New Line/MGM/Wingnut (Carolynne Cunningham, Zane Weiner, Fran Walsh & Peter Jackson)
US/New Zealand 2014
144 mins 
 
Fantasy/Adventure
 
W: Fran Walsh, Philippa Boyens, Peter Jackson & Guillermo del Toro [based on the novel by J. R. R. Tolkien]
DP: Andrew Lesnie
Ed: Jabez Olsson
Mus: Howard Shore
PD: Grant Major
 
Martin Freeman (Bilbo Baggins), Ian McKellen (Gandalf), Richard Armitage (Thorin Oakenshield), Evangeline Lilly (Tauriel), Lee Pace (Thranduil), Luke Evans (Bard), Ken Stott (Balin), Cate Blanchett (Galadriel), Ian Holm (Old Bilbo), Christopher Lee (Saruman), Hugo Weaving (Elrond), Orlando Bloom (Legolas), Benedict Cumberbatch (voice of Smaug)
 
Though it served The Lord Of The Rings well to be split into a trilogy, it felt unnecessary to do it with J. R. R. Tolkien's The Hobbit. Whilst some may say it's so the film is as faithful adaptation as possible from the book, this is debunked by the decision to cast Orlando Bloom, reprising his role as Legolas. The real reason was, more cynically, to coax people into paying for the same film three times. The first segment of the trilogy is completely redundant, setting up characters and a story which never materialises until the second film, in which the wheels are really set in motion. This third film culminates in the battle described in the subtitle, before closing with a reference to the events which can be seen in The Lord of the Rings trilogy.
In fairness, it delivers what it promises, but having to sit through two previous films to get here may test the patience of even the most ardent fan, especially since the films were released a year apart and didn't quite have the memorable weight to bridge the gaps between.
With the dragon Smaug defeated and the people of Laketown suffering the loss of their homes, the survivors head to the Lonely Mountain, where Bilbo and the dwarves prepare for battle. Complications arise when Thorin, the  leader of the dwarves is struck with "dragon sickness" while searching for the fabled Arkenstone, though he regains his sanity just in time for the big showdown.
As with the previous films, the visual effects and creation of Middle Earth are done impeccably, utilising imaginative production design, costumes, makeup and cinematography to make the fictional world look as though it were a real location. The same can also be said of the mythical creatures who dwell within and this is where Peter Jackson excels in his vision. Where he falters is by eking out the story over three films, whereby two would have been perfectly sufficient.
7/10

The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies
The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies