A younger and more reluctant Hobbit, Bilbo Baggins, sets out on a "unexpected journey" to the Lonely Mountain with a spirited group of Dwarves to reclaim a their stolen mountain home from a dragon named Smaug.
I read the book ages ago and have it stored in the back of my mind as a pleasant memory of an amazing book. I hadn't read the Lord of the Rings yet but knew about it and this book was a great introduction. I remember reading The Silmarillion not long afterwards, being slightly confused. But I was therefore really looking forward to seeing it on screen. Unlike many others I was not at all fazed by the prospect of three movies. I tend to have unflinching trust in my favourite directors and I loved what Peter Jackson did with The Lord of the Rings. And I always want to see more extra Tolkien material, I mean, who doesn't?
First of all, the story itself is brilliant and Peter Jackson does very well at representing not only the key themes but also the details that make it so special. The Prologue here is weaker than the one at the beginning of 'Fellowship of the Ring' but almost nothing can match the ethereal beauty and command that Cate Blanchett possesses. Ian Holm's performance was a bit disappointing, especially because his voice and performance was so good in the previous trilogy and he faded compared to Martin Freeman's Bilbo. Freeman works in a huge number of minute movements and facial expressions that make the character very real. He has perfect comedic timing but also knows when to be serious and how. His response is very similar to the audience in the sense that our first response is also 'no, no, no, no' when the Dwarves start throwing cutlery.
Talking about the Dwarves: I love them. Although it did take me two visits to the cinema to be able to distinguish most of them, they were a real joy to watch. Fili and Kili immediately established themselves as the "hot dwarves", Ori was adorable and Thorin is...majestic. I recommend it strongly to check out the 'Majestic Thorin' tag on Tumblr, it had me giggling and laughing like a fool. The bond between the Dwarves, the different characters and loyalties are very interesting and I can't wait to find out even more about it in the next two movies. Here is an article that explains it all so much more eloquently than me. A bit more on Thorin, as played by Richard Armitage. Not only is Armitage majestic and perfect for the role, but Thorin is a very interesting character. He is a leader, yes, and very noble, but he is also mistaken and harsh at times. I am quite looking forward to seeing more of him. James Nesbitt is great as Bofur and Ian McKellen is, as always, perfect as Gandalf.
And a little bit more on Andy Serkis' Gollum. I just wish Gollum was a bigger part of 'The Hobbit' because Serkis' performance is brilliant. Gollum is different, more innocent perhaps. His split personality really comes forward and is both funny and tragic. Serkis also worked as Second Unit Director on this movie, sharing some responsibility with Peter Jackson. Perhaps this will garner him some more recognition because I really think he deserves more than he is getting. Philippa Boyens and Fran Walsh did a great job on the script, again, and another one of my favourite directors, Guillermo del Toro, also took part in the screenplay.
Overall, this movie is probably the best way to spend 2 hours and 50 minutes of your life. From the moment the Dwarves start singing, Bilbo goes on an adventure, Thorin behaves majestically and Gollum guesses his own riddles you will be hooked and damn Jackson for making us wait another year for the next movie, 'The Desolation of Smaug'. And you know why that one will be good? Because it has 'Desolation' in its title and that is amazing!