Book my hiking trip to New Zealand asap! Looking at the beautiful and untouched countryside of New Zealand was one of the most memorable aspects of "Lord of the Rings" to me. I enjoyed the first "Lord of the Rings," as well as the second one, but to be honest (as I always say, this is Reel HONEST Reviews, so I must be!), I was not enamored with the final one. Now we have the original "The Hobbit" which is the prequel to the first sequel. (This reasoning is starting to be seen frequently this year!) Again, the cast and crew returned to New Zealand to film. Regarding The Hobbit, and The Lord of the Rings, I must admit that I did not read the books. I am not a fantasy type of reader. (Although I will admit to reading 50 Shades of Grey, but that's a completely different fantasty story, now isn't it?) I didn't read Chronicles of Narnia. I didn't read Harry Potter. I tried. I just couldn't get into any of them. I guess it's just not my style. So again, to be honest, I wasn't excited to see this triple sequel's prequel.
The film did an amazing job of telling the story from the true beginning as we met Bilbo Baggins 60 years after his first adventure. In passing down his story to Frodo, he takes quill, ink, and parchment paper to describe when he met Gandalf and we are suddenly whisked away to the young and impressionable Bilbo Baggins. And the adventure begins. The scenery in every castle, forest, and mountain was beautifully and painstakingly perfect. I am guessing that it fit the book's description of every scene to a "T." The Hobbit's house was gorgeous with its warm and welcoming woodwork and catacombs full of food and comfortable furniture. It was a home that I would love to have...with higher ceilings, of course! Seeing this movie on an empty stomach was a bad idea. As you Hobbit fans know, food is a big deal what with Second Breakfast and the like. As the food poured out so did the atrocious manners of the dwarves which quelled my hungry tummy. Bilbo (Martin Freeman) and Gandalf (Ian McKellen) were most likable from the beginning. There was something charming about each of them, in very different ways.
Here's where this film loses me in much the same way the books did as well. Introduction of the dwarves. Balin, Dwalin, Fili, Kili, Oin, Gloin, etc. The only one I kept straight was Kili. (Ladies, if you see this movie, you will understand why.) As the dwarves went along their adventure to reclaim their mountain home now guarded by a dragon who covets gold, (What would a dragon do with gold, pray tell?) they encountered many different beasts and obstacles such as trolls and goblins and orcs and other things I can't pronounce or spell. Fight after fight. Hideous beasts galore. More and more and more. As Gandolf stated, "We go from the frying pan to the fire." Quite right. Now here is where the film intrigued me...the make-up and the CGI. Amazing. I thought "Cloud Atlas" would run away with this category Oscar night, but now I'm not so sure. One of my favorite scenes was Bilbo's interaction with Gollum. Conversation and puzzle solving ensues which made you have some empathy for the poor little schizophrenic goblin. The trolls, the Orcs, the animals, and the dwarves themselves were a work of absolute art. The computer generated beasts were spectacular with how they were able to interact with actual people. But my all-time favorite "bad guy" was the Goblin King (forgive me Hobbit fans, if I didn't remember his title properly) who reminded me of a combination of Jabba The Hut from "Star Wars" and Fat Bastard from "Austin Powers."
8 REELS (if you like this genre)