Coming to theatres this Friday from director Peter Jackson and New Line Cinema is the most anticipated return to Middle Earth after a nine year absence and more stories of THE HOBBIT: An Unexpected Journey.
This film tells the story of Bilbo Baggins (Martin Freeman) and his humble beginnings in Bag End, in the Shire of Hobbiton, sixty years before the battle of Mordor. Minding his business of living the life of a hobbit, he meets Gandalf (Ian McKellan). After an initial conversation Bilbo’s life changes at the drop of Gandalf’s hat!
As he sits down to dinner Bilbo’s door begins knocking again, again, and again as dwarfs take over his home. Eventually he learns the story of their home at Lonely Mountain that was taken over by the Dragon Smaug and now, the dwarfs: Balin (Ken Stott), Dwalin (Graham McTavish), Bifur (William Kircher), Bofur (James Nesbitt), Bombur (Stephen Hunter), Fili (Dean O’Gorman), Kili (Aidan Turner), Oin (John Callen), Gloin (Peter Hambleton), Nori (Jed Brophy), Dori (Mark Hadlow) and Ori (Adam Brown) believe it is time to reclaim it.
All they need is their leader legendary warrior Thorin Oakenshield (Richard Armitage). As they come together Bilbo becomes an important part of their mission as they enter lands crawling with Orcs and Goblins, Wargs, Spiders, Shapeshifters and Socerers. The dwarfs must call upon all those who live in Middle Earth if their mission is to be successful.
Bilbo also has his encounter with Gollum in the cave of the underground lake leaving with more in his pocket than he came with.
FINAL WORD: Freeman is interesting as Bilbo Baggins. There are so many characteristics and mannerisms that he has captured from the “older” version of himself. He also doesn’t take over the screen or the story. Each of the characters work together to bring audiences into the story. It will be interesting to see where Freeman takes the character with the next installment of THE HOBBIT: The Desolation of Smaug (2013).
It is always a joy to see McKellan and even more so when he takes up the grey hat and walking stick of Gandalf. It is difficult to believe that nine years have gone by because he doesn’t miss a beat. His wisdom and belief in doing what’s right now matter how scary it may be is amazing with McKellan’s performance.
The dwarfs are all distinct in their characteristics but because there are so many of them it’s going to take the next film at least to sort them out. O’Gorman (Fili) and Turner (Kili) are actually very funny and brave at the same time. I instantly recognized Nesbitt as Bofur and was delighted!
The standout here is Armitage as Thorin. He is a deeply serious dwarf warrior who wants nothing more than to return to Lonely Mountain. He also must come to terms with his anger and resentment towards the Elves and Rivendale. Armitage has captured all that intense emotion and will be the next heartthrob of and I can pretty much guarantee that. In this first movie it’s clear that Thorin is a force but also in for many more shocks.
Peter Jackson, for this film, decided to shoot it in 3-D (48 frame rate) and I have to say now it is totally unnecessary. I’m a firm believer in just because you can do a thing doesn’t mean you should do a thing. Shooting the film this way proves my point.
From the very beginning of the LORD OF THE RINGS films I absolutely love the way Jackson shot the films. In THE HOBBIT: An Unexpected Journey, the 3-D just nauseates, gave me a headache and distracts from a story that some have waited a long time to see. Personally I’d be happy when I can see it again – but on blu-ray.
TUBS OF POPCORN: I give THE HOBBIT: An Unexpected Journey four tubs of popcorn out of five. The story is flawless to my way of thinking and someone who has loved the work of J.R.R. Tolkien my whole life. The story is slow in its telling but its setting the viewer up for what is to come. Some parts of the audience will enjoy that while others may wish for a little less of it.
There is so much more to come including the third installment entitled THE HOBBIT: There and Back again (2014) that I am once again giddy! I suspect that this week will be filled with fans re-watching the LORD OF THE RINGS trilogy but the good news is you don’t have to! Starting here is a wonderful way to introduce a new generation of fans to perhaps take a gander at the written works of J.R.R. Tolkien so discover how in-depth the story of Middle Earth truly is.
In the end – his home is now behind and the world is ahead!