So the studio people talked Peter Jackson into returning to Middle Earth, to an earlier time, when the solid squire of Hobbiton, Bilbo Baggins, finds himself advertised as a “burgler” by the wizard Gandalf, a legendary figure Bilbo barely remembers from childhood. Bilbo goes forth to help a troop of dwarves reclaim their ancestral home, which was taken generations before by a dragon.
The good news? If you like the Jackson movie version of The Lord of the Rings, you will probably enjoy The Hobbit: Part One. Yes, part one — there’s Gold in Them Thar Hills, pilgrim! People will pay (over and over) to see these films! So one book has been broken up into three films.
How did they do it? Cleverly, so far — they took a paragraph here or a sentence there, and expanded them into small subplots that dovetail well into both The Hobbit storyline and the Lord of the Rings movies. We know where plot details came from, we see the first inkling of enemies and monsters that later bloom into major problems, and of course we see Bilbo riddling for his life with Gollum. And the arrival of…The Ring.
Fans of the book will be glad to know that there is still humor here, but it’s no longer a story for very young kids. The warfare, when it happens, is fierce, and the never-really-seen but chillingly implied dragon, and his destruction of the dwarven kingdom, would be enough to give kids nightmares. On the other hand, 90% of the people who see this are going to want one of those sleighs, complete with its team. Trust me, Radagast the Brown, the wizard who loves animals and the Greenwood, will win you over.
I also appreciated that the themes of longing for home, friendship, and loyalty to people, places, and a cause all made it intact into this movie. Martin Freeman makes me believe that’s he’s Bilbo, a younger version of Ian Holm’s Bilbo, and the dwarves are strong, complicated, comical, often sexy, and I’m already upset knowing who is going to die.
Bad parts? It took me over an hour to get used to the 48fps projection, even in 2D, although a friend told me that her usual trouble with 3D was much diminished at the new speed. And this is the Director’s Cut, as far as I can tell — at 2 hours, 45 minutes, a pit stop beforehand is essential, and don’t buy a drink!
Fantasy lovers? Take it out for a spin. You’re going back to Middle Earth!