Call me simple but The Hobbit is my favourite book – more than Lord of the Rings, more than any other book. I read it at the age of 12 and for some weird reason knew then and there that every other fantasy novel that had been published since was mere derivative.
Thus I went into Peter Jackson’s adaptation today with low expectations and the best I can say is I wasn’t disappointed. Forget box-office success – the movie will work financially and deserves to do so. My main quibble is how encumbered this adaptation is with the trappings of Jackson’s LOTR trilogy and feels more like an embellished prequel than a rendering of the fantastic children’s story Tolkien published in 1937.
My 1975 Allen and Unwin reset edition of The Hobbit has 253 pages. Three hours of the first part of this new file trilogy and we’re up to page 99. Much has been written about the unwieldiness of piping The Hobbit into three new movies. I suspect Jackson feels that by plugging into the universe he created more than a decade ago, he is obliged to further populate the forests and mountains with characters that ought not be there and add some dense backstory. Hence we find a flirtatious Galadriel, odious Saruman and bunny-sledding Radagast. Mercifully Jackson has spared us Tom Bombadil. It’s all a bit too much for a story that was originally a much more nimble read than the fat tome that followed in the 1950s.
Could The Hobbit have benefited from being rebuilt from the ground up by a fresh creative mind? It would be hard to better Sir Ian McKellen’s Gandalf, true enough, but I can’t help but feel this could have been someone else’s baby. Here are some suggestions, some wackier than others:

Joe Wright (Atonement, Pride and Prejudice)
An eye for English period splendour and grim subterranean scenes, Wright sets up an awesome long take. His narratives take you from the gentleness of the countryside to the terrors of the battlefield.

Alfonso Cuarón (Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, Children of Men)
Also a master of long shot, Curarón knows how to tell a tight story and create elaborate sets. His fantasy-derived characters also have a depth and realism often lacking in other films of the genre.

Hayao Miyazaki (Spirited Away, Ponyo, Howl’s Moving Castle)
The Hobbit as a narrative might be slightly too linear to be squeezed into the anime genre, but if you want to recreate Middle Earth, you could do worse than Miyazaki whose dreamscapes are the stuff of visceral burn.

Jerry Bruckheimer (The Rock, Top Gun)
Maybe not. But one thing that always struck me was the way The Rock was a modern-day take on The Hobbit: a gormless boffin (Nicholas Cage) is reluctantly dragged into a mission by a pack of battle-hardened soldiers led by a sage old man with a white beard (Sean Connery). It also involved lots of wriggling around tunnels.