|Martin Freeman as young Bilbo Baggins.|
Directed by Peter Jackson
Produced by Carolynne Cunningham, Zane Weiner, Peter Jackson, & Fran Walsh
Written by Philippa Boyens, Guillermo del Toro, Peter Jackson, & Fran Walsh
Starring Ian McKellen, Martin Freeman, Richard Armitage, James Nesbitt, Ken Stott, Cate Blanchett, Ian Holm, Christopher Lee, Hugo Weaving, Elijah Wood, & Andy Serkis
Peter Jackson's latest foray into Middle-earth is a thrilling, overindulgent adventure. This beloved prequel to Tolkien's Lord of the Rings trilogy follows the young hobbit Bilbo Baggins (Freeman), who is thrown into a perilous quest by Gandalf (McKellen) the wizard. Accompanied by a group of 13 dwarfs, Bilbo must help his party regain the Lonely Mountain, which was taken by a fierce dragon called Smaug. Inside their former home, the dwarfs' gold is being guarded by the creature, and they finally have a way into the mountain, after years of living elsewhere. Life in The Shire has been easy for Bilbo, and he will be tested, as their group faces numerous attacks from fearsome beasts, quarrels amongst themselves and with others, and, of course, two lengthy sequels still to come.
I'm not a massive fan of The Lord of the Rings, but I do like the films. Fortunately, this film is a lot of fun, even if it is much too long and very heavy on expositional dialogue. No doubt fans of Tolkien's saga will appreciate the pandering of the narrative, with three musical numbers and various subplots being introduced that ensure a nine-hour adventure for young Bilbo and his dwarf companions. Given Jackson's return and his expansion of The Hobbit films, it seems evident that this trilogy will be one strictly for the hardcore fans. The film is, honestly, quite boring at times, as evidenced by the two twentysomething couples who walked out during the first hour in my screening. Despite its good performances, technical prowess, and numerous compelling sequences, an overall lack of cohesiveness really hurts this film. Who knows? If it had a more concise, on point cut, the film might've been one of the year's best. Instead, it is some parts riveting, some parts amusing, and some parts dull and unnecessary.
Oscar Potential: Best Production Design, Best Costume Design, Best Original Song ("Song of the Lonely Mountain"), Best Makeup and Hairstyling, Best Visual Effects