You Should Be Reading: The Hobbit

“Now it is a strange thing, but things that are good to have and days that are good to spend are soon told about, and not much to listen to; while things that are uncomfortable, palpitating, and even gruesome, may make a good tale, and take a deal of telling anyway.”

Rating:

…or at least the final 85 pages of J. R. R. Tolkien‘s classic fantasy story, The Hobbit, that is.

From the author of The Lord of The Rings trilogy, and with the same crew behind their film adaptations, the final instalment in a trilogy of adaptations, The Battle of the Five Armies, is set to be released on 12th December.

Although they are all based on the same, single book, The Hobbit trilogy of films began with An Unexpected Journey in 2012, followed with The Desolation of Smaug in 2013, and is set to conclude at the end of this year.

Again directed by Peter Jackson, the final instalment will focus on the final third of The Hobbit book, as the dwarves attempt to reclaim their homeland of Erebor.

The following post is a review of the book only, looking at how it is going to be adapted. You can read my reviews of the three film adaptations – An Unexpected Journey, The Desolation of Smaug, and The Battle of The Five Armies – in comparison to the book by clicking the links above.

Book Review:

Written by English author J. R. R. Tolkien, before he went on to write The Lord of The Rings trilogy which was actually intended to be a sequel, The Hobbit was originally published in 1937 and remains a classic even today. It is a story that many of us are likely to have read whilst growing up, or were at least forced to during education, with the book and its adaptations now being a part of one of the biggest film franchises to date. Although it was as early as 1995 that Jackson originally expressed interest in adapting the book, filming of the adaptations only began in 2011, with The Lord of The Rings trilogy of adaptations hitting the silver screen before production on The Hobbit even began.

With the second of three adaptations of The Hobbit, The Desolation of Smaug, focusing on the central third of the book, as the dwarves find and awaken Smaug, the final third continues as the titular battle ensues on The Lonely Mountain, with the Goblins and the Wargs fighting against the Men of Lake-town, the Elves, the Dwarves and Eagles, to gain control of Erebor and the vast treasure inside.

Whilst this sounds like a film worth of footage, not a lot actually happens in these final 85 pages of the book, with the war itself being skipped over quite quickly in no more than 3 pages. At this point in the book, the exhilarating adventure that The Hobbit is known for being is, unfortunately, pretty much over, as Tolkien begins to conclude the story quite rapidly from this point on. But we’re all immensely eager to know how the story comes to an end, so you won’t be disappointed with what’s to come.

However, reading these final pages of the book, you wouldn’t think that the story is worthy of a whole film to itself. But the adaptations have something that the book does not. Peter Jackson – the man of epic battles and films that can run for 3 hours without flaw. The battle may be rushed over in the book, but you can be sure that Jackson will make it the central focus of his film, throwing in gruesome characters, brilliant CGI effects and many inside jokes with the characters we already know and love from The Lord of The Rings. But this is a war, so there may be some tears to be shed, too.

Nevertheless, with so little happening in the book, it’s a given that the film is going to have a lot of alterations in store. No change there, though, as the first two instalments were also very different from the book, using characters we know from The Lord of The Rings trilogy that didn’t actually appear in The Hobbit, and additional plots to bulk the adaptations out. This is because Jackson made extensive use of the appendices published in the back of The Return of the King, using these additional scenes and detailed pieces of background information to expand the story of Middle-Earth and subsequently turn one book into three lengthy films.

So, whilst this last section of the book is the least exciting, you can be sure that Jackson is going to do something fantastic with it, and even there are going to be many changes in place, at least An Unexpected Journey and The Desolation of Smaug prove that Jackson knows what he’s doing with the story.

The Director:

My review above says all that needs to be said really: Who better for the job than Peter Jackson himself? Director of the first two films in The Hobbit franchise and also of The Lord of the Rings trilogy, we wouldn’t want anyone else in the director’s chair.

The Cast:

All cast members will be reprising their roles from the first two films including Martin Freeman as Bilbo himself, Ian McKellen as Gandulf, Orlando Bloom as Legolas, Evangeline Lilly as Tauriel, Benedict Cumberbatch as the voice of Smaug, Richard Armitage as Thorin Oakenshield, Graham McTavish as Dwalin, Ken Stott as Balin, Aidan Turner as Kili, Dean O’Gorman as Fili, Mark Hadlow as Dori, Jed Brophy as Nori, Adam Brown as Ori, Peter Hambleton as Gloin, John Callen as Oin, Stephen Hunter as Bombur, James Nesbitt as Bofur, William Kircher as Bifur, Luke Evans as Bard, Stephen Fry as the Master of Laketown, Sylvester McCoy as Radagast, Hugo Weaving as Elrond, Cate Blanchett as Galadriel, Lee Pace as Thranduil, Christopher Lee as Saruman, Ian Holm as old Bilbo Baggins, Bret McKenzie as elf Lindir, and Conan Stevens as Azog.

The only addition to the cast (that I can find amongst the huge list of big stars, at least) is Scottish comedian Billy Connolly, who will be playing Daub Ironfoot, a great dwarf warrior and cousin of Thorin Oakenshield.

The Hobbit: The Battle Of The Five Armies is set to be released on 12th December.

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