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Approaching his 111th birthday, the hobbit Bilbo Baggins begins writing down the full story of his adventure 60 years earlier for the benefit of his nephew Frodo. Long before Bilbo's involvement, the Dwarf king Thrór brings an era of prosperity to his kin under the Lonely Mountain until the arriv...
One thing about the Hobbit that casual viewers of J.R.R. Tolkien's work don't often understand is that Tolkien was perhaps one of the greatest storywriters in history. Not only did he write the LOTR trilogy, The Hobbit, and The Silmarillion, but the lore of an entire universe, languages and everything. The universe in which The Hobbit takes place is one full of subtelties and nuances that were difficult to transcribe into film, even for such a director as Peter Jackson. Now, I don't fault him or any of the cast or crew for this shortcoming, but it is an important one. So many things that were seen in this Hobbit film fell into two categories: stuff that wasn't in the book and added for dramatic effect OR stuff that was in the book but not added to the film.
So much of the Hobbit's rich plot and backstory rely on a bank of Tolkien information of which the average moviegoer tends not to be aware. I will save you the trouble of rattling these things off here, but rest assured, the mythos goes much deeper than this film makes it out to be. To his credit, though, Radagast the Brown with a film role was the ultimate Tolkien-Fanboy treat of the movie.
I was excited for the return of Ian McKellan as Gandolf, and Martin Freeman as young Bilbo Baggins was pretty much the choice I'd make as a director. What I didn't like about the cast was the overwhelming number of Dwarves introduced in a very short amount of time. Credit where credit is due to Tolkien for giving them homophonic names, but having Gandalf mutter them lightly under his breath while the (admittedly) awesome soundtrack played in the background was not the best directorial choice.
That being said, the visual effects in The Hobbit were nothing short of stunning, especially the flashback battle scenes of Moria, the battle in the trees between the Dwarves and the Wargs, and the added fight scene between the three Stone Giants; a cacaphony of yelling, crashing, and general badassery. I am in suspense for the other three movies in the trilogy, but can't help thinking that, if the pacing of the other two is like this one, the last two will either have too much crammed into one movie or leave us wanting more.