THE HOBBIT (2012)
It felt like the fastest three hours I've ever spent in a movie theatre. THE HOBBIT is a wonderful addition to the Lord of the Rings series. It fits in perfectly and has plenty of references to the first trilogy that will appeal to the fans but is succinct enough so that it works entirely on its own. In its child-like sense of wonder and awe, it captures the spirit of the book. More than any previous Lord of the Rings film, The Hobbit feels more like a children's fantasy adventure. In the best way possible.
From Bilbo accepting the call to adventure, to the threat of being eaten by Trolls over a campfire, to witnessing Stone Giants in battle, to being captured by the Goblin King and his minions - everything has a mythical fairy-tale quality (even the creepy spiders crawling over the crazy wizard's home in the forest with his rabbit sled!) The casting of Martin Freeman is a perfect match. His humanistic portrayal of this little Hobbit keeps the audience emotionally connected. There are plenty of strong character moments, eloquently written, most of which involve Bilbo. Then of course, there's Gollum, applause-worthy from start to finish. Like the book, they genuinely make him terrifying. The game of riddles is again very child-like but dark and twisted as well. The moment of "pity" is powerfully effective. There are so many gratifying moments throughout; including Gandalf wielding more magical ability, the surprise return of four beloved characters from Lord of the Rings, the sweeping, thrilling and never-ending battle with the Goblins, the emotional pay-off of Bilbo's character arc, and the stirring and thankfully updated new score by Howard Shore. All such an accomplishment. Then there's the bit about the dragon...
There are even moments where The Hobbit transcends its story and reaches fantasy archetypes. The history of the dwarves both as a people, but also in Thorin's personal heroism, is the stuff of legends. The bravery of Bilbo being rewarded by the rescue of the Eagles is a majestic moment both as movie spectacle but also as character resurrection. Finally, the theme of finding a Home and re-gaining a place in the world - a source - is as timeless and symbolic as all great fantasy storytelling. Peter Jackson and his exemplary team have done it again. And so begins yet another magnificent trilogy. May Tolkien's vision of Middle Earth continue to inspire and move us for years to come. I can hardly wait for the next one.
Director: Peter Jackson