I have a confession to make: prior to last night, I had never seen ANY of The Lord of the Rings films in the theater. I'm not entirely sure how this happened. Perhaps because when LOTR came out, the only fellow friend I had who was also a fan lived in Indiana (I then later made friends probably because of LOTR, which is pretty awesome). Maybe I didn't seem them because my parents don't go to the movie theater that often. Regardless, I was psyched for this film because of FINALLY getting to see hobbits on the big screen, hobbits in general, and MARTIN FREEMAN.
1) Casting: Martin Freeman is the perfect Bilbo Baggins. Not that I had any doubt, but upon seeing him on screen, I was giddy with joy. It's also wonderful and beautiful to see this dearly loved actor from Sherlock in a large Hollywood role and he was funny, adorable, and immensely clever. Of course, Sir Ian McKellan, Cate Blanchett, Sir Ian Holm, and Hugo Weaving were all perfect in their roles from the prior films. And, because I was sitting next to a Richard Armitage fan, I very much enjoyed Thorin Oakenshield. I mean, because he's a badass dwarf. A very handsome badass dwarf.
(Tangent time. So my favorite local radio station, The Current, does this 9:30 coffee break every weekday morning where they pick a theme and play music that listeners request based on that theme. Today was, magically, The Hobbit. And so, there was Led Zeppelin's "Ramble On" and Leonard Nimoy singing "The Ballad of Bilbo Baggins." But the first song they played was Soft Cell's "Sex Dwarf."
Listeners who requested this song - I see what you did there :D).
2) The film in general: The New York Times has some mixed things to say about The Hobbit (funny, that's exactly how I feel about The New York Times on a regular basis). Of course, being a fan, their reviewing is absolutely irrelevant to me. They make some good points, but I feel like they might have seen a different movie than I did. The film certainly never felt hollow to me or like the action sequences were non-perilous. Sure, extending one book into three films might seem like a bit much but, reminder, this is NOT George Lucas. I have far more faith in Peter Jackson's prequels than I did in Lucas'. Besides, I'm a fan - I DON'T want the films to end, so the length (2 1/2 hours, I believe) was really not a problem at all. The fact that the reviewer compares The Hobbit to Pirates of the Caribbean makes me really displeased. I get that the franchising of this film is looked at kind of negatively, but I also wonder what exactly the reviewer is expecting from a film franchise now. Of course profit is a motive, but Peter Jackson is a total fanboy. I think he's doing this more out of interest in keeping to the book and extending things that get a bit glossed over or are mentioned more in Tolkien's other stories. For example, we actually get to see the village of Dale and the dwarf kingdom in the Lonely Mountain at the beginning (which, as I'm writing a fanfic about several sisters from Dale, I very much appreciated this). The storyline of the Necromancer is a underlying plot, which is great, because in the book it feels more like Gandalf just disappears to deal with this situation and we don't get a lot of the details. (Also, you should know - and most likely already do - that the ever lovely Benedict Cumberbatch is playing both Smaug and the Necromancer - whom we (SPOILERS) get the briefest of glimpses of (enough to recognize Cumberbatch's silhouette and to get his name in the credits and still be incredibly powerful and pretty damn scary) (okay, clearly I've reached a new level of fangirling if I could recognize Cumberbatch's silhouette. But that's probably due more to the prior knowledge I had that it was him in that role.))
3) The Music: I've already downloaded the soundtrack because I'm a colossal movie score nerd. Howard Shore continues to be awesome and dwarfs sing. Enough said.
4) Fanfare for the Common Man: I really love hobbits because they represent the "non-heroic" sorts of people, the ones who are caught between wanting to snuggle up in their little hobbit hole or go on adventures and get rained on and almost die fifty times. Basically, this is the story of my people. The theme of Bilbo being a symbol of hope is so lovely and increases my fansqueeing by about tenfold so I adore the continued nod to hobbits being the chill food-loving people who are still epic and powerful. It's a nice and baffling parallel to my love for superheros and makes everything complicated and wonderful and wibbly-wobbly.
5) There were hedgehogs in this film. Absolute perfection.