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.
Anyways, I honestly didn’t know how to go about this review (dwarves! Rivendell! Eagles! “Riddles in the Dark” chapter!); my first draft of this ended up as an almost point-by-point breakdown commentary of the movie so I had to edit it a bit. What I will do instead (because I just have far too many thoughts about this movie!) is post the review here but post a separate entry of my speculation & wishlist for the next two movies xP
So yeah, the following contains super massive spoilers if you haven’t seen the movie or read the book! (as I will make some references to the book–but I will not go beyond the events shown in the movie)
I guess I will start with the overall story. The pacing of the movie may have been slow for some viewers and critics but I personally enjoyed it; it’s more leisurely but at the same time really fleshing out events that took place during this period (the Company’s mission to the Lonely Mountain, the events unfolding in the Green Forest, etc.). With thirteen dwarves, you need to establish them to the audience, their dynamic, Bilbo’s character back then and his reluctance to go. Plus, it shows all of the fun before things get serious and glum; I was seriously trying to suppress my laughter/massive grins throughout the movie because it was so much fun and hilarious.
The translation from book to movie was fantastic even with the interweave with the material from the appendices and some slightly changed scenes (which added to the movie’s narrative/character arcs, creating tension, etc.). It was such a nice touch that they had Ian Holm narrating the first few lines of the book. I was especially amused and pleased that Saruman’s line about Radagast made it in this movie as I missed it–and Radagast’s presence–in LOTR (in the book it went something like “Radagast the Brown? Radagast the fool” (with a sneer)). The sequence in Bag End at the beginning and the “Riddles in the Dark” chapter/scene were perfect. The latter was amazing with the riddles, the way Gollum’s eyes first reflected in the dark, etc. I also love that there were also many references to the LOTR movies in the way that certain scenes were shot or similar statements made about characters, it was a nice touch.
But perhaps what I really loved about this movie was how it brought the characters to life; they and their interactions with one another were fantastic:
- Bilbo Baggins: Martin Freeman just nailed it as Bilbo. The way he moved, his comedic timing, his awkwardness of being away from home and hanging out with all these dwarves were just perfect for someone who was a homebody. I love that we, the audience, are seeing many of these things in the movie through his eyes–his reaction to seeing Rivendell for the first time, to what was happening to Thorin at the end, etc.
- Thorin Oakenshield: I’ve always enjoyed Richard Armitage’s performances (well, okay, I only saw North & South, Spooks and The Vicar of Dilby), he has this gravitas and intensity that works for the role of the tough, hardened Thorin. I love how they expanded on his character, showing his history and how he became this unbending, dour person on-screen. He is certainly no Aragorn; his conflicts with Gandalf were interesting to watch on-screen, showing his dwarven suspicion and adamant nature. But he has these quieter moments and he shows his care for the other members of his Company through his actions and reactions. Plus, you know, Armitage is lovely on the eyes =P
- The other 12 dwarves: It’s hard to comment on the other dwarves because they all had different screen times and amount of lines but I love their interactions together as a group, the humour and the coordination when they fight. I’d gladly watch a 3 hour movie of them eating and cleaning and having a food fight, lol. Anyways, some comments:
- Balin: I love how completely supportive he is of Thorin and how helpful he is to Bilbo, just like in the book
- Fili & Kili: I’ve always had an affinity for these two in the book because they were always up for anything and everything and it seemed to have translated to the movie in their youth, humour and zeal. Distractingly attractive (no complaints from me though, both actors were lovely–and it was nice to see something with Dean O’Gorman again, I used to watch him on Young Hercules when I was younger) but they were great. I only wished that it was mentioned somewhere in the movie that they were nephews to Thorin.
- Bofur: He’s not referred to much in the book but I love the moments he had with Bilbo (Dori was the one who was frequently carrying Bilbo in the book)
- Galadriel: Ethereal as always. Her costume was gorgeous too. I hope we see more of her in the next movies.
- Gandalf the Grey: was <3 I love that he had the scarf like in the book! He's certainly a lot more fun and a bit mischievous here like in the book; he's still playing the role of guardian and protector of Middle Earth but he's also more relaxed. I also like that a lot of the humour, aside from the dwarves, were coming from him: counting the company like the in the books, his conversation with Galadriel during the White Council meeting, etc.
- Elrond: His entrance was total bamf and made of win. I seriously cracked up in the theatre, that is an entrance! I also love his outfits in this movie, he should’ve worn the regal purple in LOTR as well! Such a scene-stealer =P
- Radagast the Brown: lol, well, not quite as I pictured him but I’m glad they showed how powerful he can be.
- Thranduil: He had no lines in this movie but a) awesome that we saw him and b) if he was cold in the few minutes he was in this movie, I can’t imagine what it’s going to be like when we actually see him interact with these characters in later movies! lol, so bamf
I got the special edition soundtrack last week in the post *flails* and it’s absolutely lovely. The main theme song of the movie is powerful, reminds me of the Gondor theme, and I wish it was longer! There’s a lot of familiar themes here though, from the Shire theme to the Hobbits theme song, that I wonder whether it’ll be eligible for an Oscar nom. The dwarves singing was a plus =D
I thought the CGI and other effects were good. I watched this movie at 2D so I’m not sure at what fps I was watching it; either way, it was good. If I have any criticism about the movie, there’s just one tiny little one: the CGI for the moment when Radagast saw the Necromancer. It seemed like something out of a ’90s movie or TV show O_o
Overall, I loved the first installment of the movie. Given how much was covered here, the pace it’s going and what’s to come, I can see why three installments were necessary. But going back to this movie, it was an absolutely joy to revisit Middle Earth and watch this story come to life on screen. For fans of J.R.R. Tolkien’s works, this is a great treat because of all the other information that was included from the appendices and other works (I personally enjoyed the reference to the five wizards, in particular the blue wizards that were never seen nor heard of in any of the stories).
Rating: to the power of infinity =P