Wednesday, December 26, 2012

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey
     Well...I FINALLY saw it! After so much waiting and anticipation I finally saw The Hobbit and it was soooo worth the wait! I was glad that I read the book a few months in advance so I got the whole concept of the story. There were scenes that were almost word for word from the book. There were scenes in the movie that weren't in the book, but did run with the flow of the storyline.

     The movie actually starts with Bilbo (older Bilbo played by Ian Holm) retelling the story of the dwarves of Erebor and how they lost their home and vast treasure to the evil dragon Smaug. It was a great beginning and it got the whole crux of the story taken care of in the first ten minutes.

     After that charming beginning (and a great introduction to Thorin...more on him later) we finally get to meet Bilbo Baggins...The Hobbit.

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Bilbo Baggins
Martin Freeman as Bilbo Baggins
      When Gandalf the Wizard arrives at Bag End one fine morning and presents the opportunity for Mr. Bilbo Baggins to have an adventure, Bilbo turns him down immediately and that was the end of that...or so he thought. Later that very night, Bag End becomes the meeting place for one, two, three...thirteen hungry, rude, dwarves (well not Thorin, but his ungenerous attitude more than made up for it). 

     Then it is brought before Bilbo to become a burglar for Thorin and his company. His job is only meant to get inside the secret passage of Erebor that leads to the treasure hoard where Smaug resides. Sounds easy enough, except incineration might ensue. Once again, Bilbo says no, but the next morning when he finds all the dwarves gone, he ponders about the adventure, about Gandalf's words, and about finding a home and then he does the unthinkable and takes a step outside his door.
     The humorous aspect about watching Martin Freeman in this film is that I tried very very hard not to see Dr. John Watson, but I did in certain parts...and it added so much to his character too. Martin played Bilbo Baggins to absolute utter perfection. Shy, quiet, and very private, doesn't want to be bothered with outside issues, etc. I think Tolkien would have been proud.
     One trait that Martin pulled off very well was Bilbo's general awkwardness, especially when around Thorin, the ultimate alpha male of the story. Thorin makes it very clear that Bilbo is not wanted in the company and Bilbo takes it silently and with humility. A rare quality to be found in a hero, but one that I admired greatly. 

     There is also a wonderful kindness and gentility in Bilbo that coincides with unlikely courage and strength. Overtime the dwarves and eventually Thorin become to see all these traits come together to make this shy hobbit an extraordinary hero, and finally appreciate his presence in the company.

     Bilbo was my favorite character in the book and is most definitely my favorite character in the movie. When I read the book, Tolkien's  small charming details and descriptions about Bilbo Baggins made him sound so sweet and endearing (almost like a child) that I just wanted to reach through the pages, pull Bilbo out, put him on my lap and hug him to pieces!! In the movie...I just want to marry him. Seriously. I'm going to marry Bilbo Baggins.
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Ian McKellen as Gandalf 
     Gandalf, it's safe to say, is always going to be Gandalf. He really isn't any different here than he was in The Lord of The Rings trilogy. The same isn't always a bad thing either. He is a constant source of wisdom and comfort for Bilbo as well as somewhat of a disciplinarian for Thorin, whose often times prideful nature, gets in in the way of his better judgement.

     The wizard somewhat glides in and out of the story, first he's here and then he's not. Of course when something terrible is happening and there seems to be no hope, BOOM, here comes Gandalf to save the day. At the same time, he offers constant opportunities for the other characters to showcase their bravery and their skills, most especially Bilbo, who above all others, doubts his place outside the comforts of Hobbiton.

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Thorin Oakenshield
Richard Armitage as Thorin Oakenshield
     As I said in the introduction, the movie starts, not with Bilbo's story, but with Thorin's. As a matter of fact most of The Hobbit can probably be considered, Thorin's story. We first see Thorin as a prince of Erebor and heir to the throne after his father. When Erebor is attacked by Smaug the dragon, Thorin guides his lost people to the Blue Mountains where they build a new life.

     Now, some sixty years later, Thorin's grandfather and father are both dead, leaving him a king...with no kingdom to really call his own. This journey is Thorin's only chance to bring his kingdom back to his people and to avenge the lives lost through Smaug's terror, as well as the destruction of orcs in other dwarven countries. Especially one particular orc leader that killed and beheaded Thorin's grandfather in the battle of Moria (same dwelling from Lord of The Rings) whom Thorin thought to be dead, but has been hunting him and his friends since that very battle.

     As a king, Thorin is proud and courageous, but his pride can get in the way of listening to reason. He looks down (no pun intended) on Bilbo for being an irritant and contributing nothing of any value to the company, in spite of the fact that Bilbo saves their lives several times.

     Thorin might be displeased with Bilbo Baggins, but his major agitation is directed toward the elves. When Erabor was in destruction and ruins, King Thranduil (Legolas' father) who lived in the elven woods close to the dwarven kingdom, refused to help them. Afterwards, Thorin has harbored a general hatred toward all elves, even those who really wish to help him.

     In the book, Thorin is actually quite old with a wicked sense of humor. In the movie though, he's a handsome warrior figure who is the embodiment of a passionate king who is trying to reclaim back what is rightfully his.

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Andy Serkis as Gollum
     One would hope that after The Lord of The Rings, you may never want to see this hideous creature ever again. Even though, he plays an intensely important role in The Hobbit as the possessor of the One Ring, that Bilbo Baggins just so happens to chance upon in the dark goblin caves.

     Gollum isn't necessarily evil, but anyone with a brain can render him completely insane. Instead of him possessing the Ring, it seems the the Ring possesses him. When Bilbo is lost and needs to find his friends that have been captured by goblins, Gollum is unwilling to compromise and help him. Then Bilbo suggests a game of riddles and Gollum finally complies.

      Riddles In the Dark, the chapter in The Hobbit where we first meet Gollum is possibly the most famous chapter in the whole story. It's not the game of riddles or the fight for the ring though, that make the chapter so extraordinary or Gollum's part so memorable. It was the bases of his fate that determined Bilbo's qualities as an adventurer and a hero.  

"It was pity that stayed Bilbo's hand."

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Lady Galadriel
Cate Blanchett as Lady Galadriel
      Some people raised a lot of unnecessary grief over Cate Blanchett's return as Galadriel, mainly because she wasn't in the book, but I was glad to see a familiar female face and it may as well be her. Galadriel gives a small cameo appearance in the movie during the White Council. A meeting at Rivendell consisting of her self, Gandalf, Lord Elrond, and Sarumon the White. 

     Once again, Galadriel brings a few minutes of comforting relief and a breath of fresh air into a story dominated by battles, blood, and darkness.

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The Company of Dwarves
     These guys were awesome!!! The movie would not be what it is without them and I loved every single one of them! Each character had their own unique personality that brought a lot of dimension into the story. So it wasn't like a dwarf, is a dwarf, is a dwarf. Similar to The Fellowship of The Ring, but instead of having a fellowship of different races, theirs was a company of different personalities and characters.

     I'll have to have a separate character review on all of them : )

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"I've never been so wrong in all my life"
     So great movie, great characters, great storyline added together with beautiful New Zealand landscape, stunning costumes and a beautiful score makes for a wonderful three hour watch. And makes you wait even more anxiously for The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug.

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