Pin It
Favorite

DVD Review 

by Marty Demarest


With the recent Oscar win and upcoming DVD release of The Lord of the Rings: Return of the King, you may want to do some springtime repairs and make sure your Middle Earth multimedia is up to date. Aside from the books, soundtracks, tchotchkes and video games, make sure you've seen the animated version of The Hobbit.


Originally made for television in the late 1970s, this Rankin/Bass production is, like the live Rings trilogy, made by big fans of the books. It's been out on DVD for a few years now, but it's worth picking up if you see a copy for a decent price. (We've found some good bargains lately.)


The Hobbit has some of the same flaws that plague Scooby Doo: jerky animation and erratic pacing. But it has some of the strengths as well, such as excellent voice acting and wonderful character designs. The greatest features of The Hobbit, though, are the soundtrack and the backgrounds. The lands of Middle Earth are rendered in sprawling ink and watercolor paintings that are even more layered and lavish than those in Lilo and Stitch. When the camera starts panning around the scenery during some dialogue (that way they don't have to animate the characters talking onscreen), you won't mind.


The characters, though animated poorly (Bilbo bobs along like Cartman at a Renaissance fair), are remarkably designed. Everyone has a palpable nose, particularly the dwarves. Gandalf is towering, and a bit weatherworn, as befits a wandering wizard. Gollum is the biggest departure from the expected. Here's he's a big pot-bellied frog creature. But his evil voice characterization is better even than Andy Serkis' in Lord of the Rings. That Gollum needed to be marginally endearing because he was onscreen for so long and we needed to understand Frodo's sympathy for him. Here, we only need to fear Gollum, and Arthur Rankin Jr.'s design does that perfectly.


John Huston is marvelously melodic as the voice of Gandalf, and combined with the near-continual folk-inspired music of the score, his narration lends the entire production the feel of an intimate bardic tale. The fate of the entire world doesn't hang in the balance in this story. But there is a genuine fire-breathing dragon (he's impressively scary), and hobbits, elves and dwarves setting out on a quest together. It's a tale worth knowing, and aside from reading the book, it's an enchanting introduction to all things Tolkien.





Publication date: 04/08/04

  • Pin It

Latest in News

  • The Price of Progress
  • The Price of Progress

    The Grand Coulee Dam has created billions in economic activity, but it also devastated local river tribes. What's standing in the way of reparations for the Spokane Tribe?
    • Apr 1, 2015
  • Breaking the Silence
  • Breaking the Silence

    The Carmel of the Holy Trinity nuns live in silence and isolation — but a proposed development could make that difficult
    • Apr 1, 2015
  • Watch List
  • Watch List

    ISIS singles out an Idaho town; plus, Spokane's campaign for paid sick leave
    • Apr 1, 2015
  • More »

Comments

Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

Today | Thu | Fri | Sat | Sun | Mon | Tue
OR7 — The Journey

OR7 — The Journey @ Bing Crosby Theater

April 3-4

All of today's events | Staff Picks

More by Marty Demarest

  • The Cowboy's Cowboy
  • The Cowboy's Cowboy

    A Canadian sings about the life —  not just the lifestyle — of the new West
    • May 15, 2013
  • Completing the Trilogy
  • Completing the Trilogy

    Mass Effect has finally arrived
    • May 23, 2012
  • Minecraft
  • Minecraft

    Adventure and survival too often give way to mindless crafts in this building-block simulator.
    • Feb 8, 2012
  • More »

Most Commented On

  • Why Idaho kids don't go to college

    And what that means for the Gem State
    • Mar 4, 2015
  • New Blood

    Candidates are launching bids for Spokane City Council and could bring big changes to city government
    • Mar 18, 2015
  • More »

Top Tags in
News & Comment

Briefs


Comment


Publisher's Note


marijuana


long reads


© 2015 Inlander
Website powered by Foundation