By Laura Owen.
Peter Jackson’s highly awaited follow up from the Lord of the Rings success packed Cinema’s in keen anticipation of a film to rival the mania of his previous Middle Earth adventures.
Having a strong presence of British actors the film was certainly a hit on the big screen at the local Cinema. Martin Freeman, better known for his stints in The Office and Sherlock and on the big screen in Hitchhiker’s guide to the galaxy, takes on Bilbo Baggins and creates a rather interesting take on a much loved literary character.
Doubtful at first appearance, he seems stiff and a little awkward. But given time and a few scenes Freeman creates Bilbo on a multi faceted level and it just becomes another quirk of the wily Hobbit. Along the way Freeman does a spectacular job of portraying Bilbo. He makes him reluctant, funny, nervous and courageous in all the right places and drops his brilliant speeches in just as casually.
Bilbo rather reluctantly at first goes off on an adventure simply to live up to his ancestor’s reputation as a Took. Joining forces with a gaggle of Dwarves and Gandalf, reprised of course by Ian Mckellen, to reclaim the Dwarves home from a dragon, Smaug.
A brilliantly entertaining invasion by the Dwarven team on Bilbo’s quint little hobbit hole gives the audience a good laugh and brightens up the scenery for a short while. Their antics and Bilbo’s appalled reaction get’s the laughter going, giving some light hearted bonding for a group that’s going to go through Hell shortly.
Prince Thorin a solemn and broody figure is the only doubter in the company. Richard Armitage, better known for his role in Robin Hood, plays the Dwarf wonderfully. Full of skepticism and outright distain he doesn’t do anything to make Bilbo feel welcome, in fact he rather bluntly lets him know he thinks he’ll be dragon food pretty shortly. He continues to be suspicious of Bilbo’s motives, not accepting him fully until he rather selflessly rescues the Prince and shows other forms of loyalty to the group. A rather inspiring speech about Bag End, Home and helping the Dwarves reclaim their own helps ease some tension. Perhaps helping rescue the Dwarves from hungry Trolls also helped his acceptance along with the other’s of the group despite their Prince’s distrust.
The meeting between Bilbo and Gollum is something that every diehard waited for. The scene was flawless and the transition of the ring something everyone could anticipate with bated breath.
“Bilbo: Why don’t we have a game of riddles and if I win, you show me the way out of here?
Gollum: And if he loses? What then? Well if he loses precious then we eats it! If Baggins loses we eats it whole!
Bilbo: Fair enough.”
— The Hobbit
The scene builds going from fright to funny to worrying and nail biting anticipation flawlessly. Gollum the schizophrenic and his transitions from Precious to Gollum and back again are enough to build an atmosphere of anticipation, but cast together with Freeman’s perfect reactions and timing it makes it into something worthy of the franchise. People who have adored the books can take this scene and mark it as one of the defining moments in the history of the Ring and of Middle Earth and find it completely satisfactory to expectations.
The relationship between the Dwarves and the Elves is explained in more detail and the reasons for the feud come to light along the way, a story told in flashback that makes Thorin seem far more understandable and gives a new dimension to the tale of the Dwarves struggles without the aid from the other species of Middle Earth. We get more insight into the past of Middle Earth expanding on many of the facets hinted at in the LOTR films.
Voiced by Freeman’s cast mate from Sherlock, Benedict Cumberbatch, Smaug the Dragon is a dark cloud hovering over the adventure. Despite the hilarity and bonding of being captured by Trolls, the struggle of being again captured by Orks and a multitude of other shenanigans. What we’re truly waiting for is the final battle, the fight to take back the Mountain.
Highly disappointing however the Dragon does not make much of an appearance in the film, considering it is based entirely on the story of how a Dragon took over a Dwarven city and killed off many of their numbers to do so and they have suffered long years trying to survive now they have no home.
It seems rather bizarre that the main Antagonist of the film did not make more than peripheral appearances, in flash back form as the Dwarves told their history to persuade Bilbo to aid them.
However by the number of groans and cries of indignation I was not the only person in the cinema stunned by the credits rolling up. Peter Jackson has created another Trilogy and we’ll just have to wait for that action.
Despite the lack of closure I’d give the Hobbit a look. It’s funny, entertaining and in places touching. The acting was believable, the script another masterpiece by a master of the genre, and the cinematography again another golden achievement for Jackson who delights in manipulating the New Zealand beauty to stunning results.
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