photoMy relationship with The Hobbit began about 40 years or so ago when my Great-Uncle Tom (a kind man prone to buying his grand-nieces and nephews books and LPs without any quibbling whatsoever; he is responsible for getting me the first Kate Bush album and introducing me to country music, but I digress) bought me for Christmas a chunky book of children’s short stories, most of which I can’t remember. But the very last one in the book was the first chapter of The Hobbit, with the dwarves arriving at Bag End and all the nonsense with the food and the plates before they start singing of Erebor. I was enchanted but it was a few years before I read the whole thing, which led inevitably to Lord of the Rings and the Silmarillion and all the rest.

So I was very excited about the film version when it was announced and scooted off with the Book God to see it as soon as we possibly good, which is how I found myself in our local Odeon at 7pm on a Monday evening awaiting the start of The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey.

Well. You either know the story already or you don’t care a hoot, so I’m not going to talk about that at all. This is all about how it feels to see one of your favourite stories put up on the big screen.

It didn’t disappoint in any way at all. It’s a long film but it didn’t feel draggy at all, it was totally captivating and looked absolutely stunning, despite all the fuss about 48rp whatsit.

Big highlights for me:

  • how well the stuff you only hear about in The Hobbit and LOTR are shown; the council of Gandalf, Galadriel, Elrond and Saruman talking about what might be lurking in Dol Guldur, and the astonishing prologue at Erebor stick out the most for me;
  • Martin Freeman is just excellent, managing to echo Ian Holm’s Bilbo without impersonating him, his wonderful facial expressions and other mannerisms and his inherent kindness (which is one of the things I’ve always liked about Bilbo)
  • Gollum. Not on the screen for very long but boy, delivers during every second
  • Thorin Oakenshield – I wasn’t sure about the casting of Richard Armitage, although he is an actor I do admire, but he captures Thorin’s doubt and anger and brooding quality and pride exactly

In fact all of the dwarves were brilliant, but my favourite has to be Ken Stott as Balin, just super.

I could go on for this like ages and it is all a bit gushing I know but I just enjoyed it so much. I would have loved to have seen what Guillermo del Toro would have done with this story but Peter Jackson of course is brilliant.

Speaking of del Toro, amongst the trailers accompanying The Hobbit (Les Mis, Wreck-it Ralph, Life of Pi) was Pacific Rim; this giant monsters vs giant robots movie may look like the most expensive Power Rangers episode ever made, but there is no way I’m going to miss it!