The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey

"You will have to do without pocket handkerchiefs, and a great many other things, before we reach our journey's end, Bilbo Baggins. You were born to the rolling hills and little rivers of the Shire, but home is now behind you. The world is ahead."   - Gandalf

release year: 2012
genre: fantasy
viewing setting: home Bluray 4/27/18 and 3/19/13 and theater, 12/23/12

synopsis: Young, naive hobbit Bilbo Baggins decides to acompany some dwarves on a great quest to regain their home (and a mountain of gold) from a fearsome dragon.

impressions: This got the job done. Yes, it was long (almost three hours) and yes, it incorporated elements that weren't in the original book, and yes, it got broken up into three movies to be released across three years. However, these weren't necessarily bad things. I never found the movie to be slow or plodding, much less boring. It was just long, and taken as a piece of something much larger and greater, that's completely fine. My brothers and nephews who watched it with me seemed to agree. There are a lot of characters here, including some who also showed up in the Lord of the Rings trilogy, but they're easy to keep track of, and many have memorable lines or deeds. The action doesn't really pick up until the second half, but it's good - mass battles within and across insanely-detailed settings. There were three different times (stone giants fighting, goblin mines, treetop battle) when I thought the group would surely have lost a member or two, but somehow everyone made it.

something this movie has that no other movie has: Mountains - that are actually colossal stone giants - fighting with each other.

acting: Martin Freeman does a stellar job as young Bilbo Baggins, reluctant adventurer. I never once thought to myself "who is this guy?" Ian McKellan is the wizard Gandalf, who acts odd upon occasion and seldom bothers to explain anything. Richard Armitage is Thorin, leader of the band of dwarves. Andy Serkis uses a lot of body language to successfully portray the skulking, babbling Gollum. Sylvester McCoy is an amusing forest-wizard. Graham McTavish (who was the leader of the mercenaries in 2008's Rambo) is Dwalin, an old veteran dwarf. There are a number of smaller roles here, played by people who also appeared in the Lord of the Rings trilogy: Christopher Lee as before-he-turned-evil Saruman, Hugo Weaving as wise elf ruler Elrond, Cate Blanchett as wise elf-woman Galadriel.

final word: Lengthy but worthwhile first chapter of a fantasy classic.

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