I’ve seen the movie and I love, love, love it! It’s amazing, wonderful, inspiring and just phenomenal. The return to Middle Earth is simply pure magic. The soundtrack brought back so many memories and feelings that I had to catch a breath and seriously work on not grinning like an utter fool. Not that anyone would notice – the early 3D screening was poorly visited in my opinion. It was Monday and not the day with discounts, so I guess that explains why only 15 to 20 people were in the hall. I’m not complaining since less people meant fewer distractions during the movie. (Still didn’t stop a guy in front of me from exiting the hall 2 times. Grrrr.)
The movie is everything I’ve imagined it would be and so much more. I loved the foreword with old Bilbo and young Frodo, the history of Erebor, all the flashbacks and little nods towards the LOTR movies. I loved the dwarves and even managed to remember most of their names and match them with corresponding faces, which is a great feat, believe me. The actors did great and gave them very distinct personalities, so I’ll know them by heart once I get a DVD copy of the movie and be ready for the next instalment in the cinema.
I loved Bilbo – amazing job by Martin Freeman. He was such a great Hobbit, quite different from Frodo, yet still utterly hobbitish (if that’s a word). The way he reacted to the mayhem uninvited guests brought with them was hilarious. But despite how stubbornly he stuck to the order of things in the Shire we could all see beneath the surface and see his Tookish roots desiring adventure and new experiences. One couldn’t fool a wizard, I believe. 😀
His interaction wit Gandalf was just charming, though the wizard appears far grumpier than in LOTR. He’s quite fed up with the dwarves at some point, much to my amusement. In a way this movie shows us his progress towards the greatest wizard there ever was. Gandalf is not so sure of himself yet, he doubts his decisions and plans. Therefore I loved how Galadriel and Elrond support him. Especially Galadriel seems to have an amazing chemistry and friendship with him. She trusts him more than Saruman who even now shows the seeds of pride that would lead to his downfall.
I liked the portrayal of the other wizard – Radagast – a little less at first, but he grew on me. The first time we got to see him I was just shocked by his appearance. I’m not sure if that was moss or bird s*** in his hair. Yet once we get to see beneath his deranged and eccentric mask there lies great power and sense of responsibility. He is just a man living removed from civilisation, so he would develop certain odd behaviours through the years. He’s still different than the wizard I wrote in my story, but I can still work with this portrayal. What a relief.
What I found a lot of people have trouble with are the orcs and goblins. Azog in particular seems to get the brunt of the dissatisfaction, but I found nothing wrong with them or him. Orcs are as terrifying and gruesome as ever, especially when in combination with wargs, which were pure nightmare to me. I wouldn’t want to get near that puppy for all the gold in the world. Yes, orcs were a bit different than the ones we got to see before, but that is easily explained – they are not a uniformed nation, but consist of several tribes. So that is why orcs from Mordor are different from orcs of the Misty Mountains and Uruk-hai.
I also found Azog appropriately menacing and his concept design clever and well done. Yes, his features are more reminiscent of that of a man or elf, far less mutilated and transformed than usual, but this just shows us that the origin of all these evil beings lies with Men and Elves. That makes him far more scary and gruesome – we can see the potential for what he could have been if not for Morgoth. He has no morals, no compassion, not an ounce of love in him. Maybe it’s just me, but I find evil wrapped in a pretty package far more terrifying than when it is found behind a gruesome mask. That we can see a part of the original design in him makes him crueler in my eyes.
Now, the dwarves; the focal point of the entire adventure we got to see. Where would be without them? The dwarf in charge is Thorin portrayed by wonderful Richard Armitage who I’ve been following since I first saw him in North and South. I love his voice and his intensity. He’s the right man to play the dwarf prince. He’s got the whole nobility aura down pat; he’s serious, grim, determined to the point of stubbornness, wounded and distrustful. Boy can he hold a grudge! Yet we still see that he cares for his people, family and companions – perhaps he’s so hard on them and himself because he cares too much. He doesn’t doubt Bilbo as much as he doubts his own ability to keep the hobbit safe. That is why he tries to send him back; he doesn’t want more blood on his hands, especially since they seem to move from one peril to another. The hug at the end shows his acceptance of the hobbit, the start of a friendship and a determination to see them all through.
I’m having a total crush on him, the beard, long hair. I must have mentioned my weakness for long hair before, no? He’s just so INTENSE! His history, grim determination and strength make him a perfect flawed hero. And don’t let me start with the way he stood up on that tree and marched down to Azog – OMG! Epic! Yes, people have said it’s a sacrilege he’s a hot dwarf, that he should have more prosthetics on, but one can easily imagine that they get more dwarfish as they age. I’m fine with that – he’s as hot as we picture him in our minds. And it’s the personality too – he would be half as attractive with a really poisonous one, no? One can still see the dwarf in him, in the way he moves, fights…
Other dwarves are wonderful in their own ways. Balin gave us insight into their troubled past, while Kili and Fili show us the merrier, more innocent side of the younger dwarves. Each companion is necessary for the adventure, though few get a lot of screen time. I hope for more in the future. We got to see them in action scenes (which were quite prominent in the movie to the point I thought we were just fighting our way through), but I like the slower scenes where they are just camping, eating. I like to listen to their conversations, jokes and songs. They are a tightly-knit group.
The dwarf music theme itself is phenomenal and describes them to a T. And it’s so catchy. My sister was humming it for days. I’m getting the CD, mark my words. The song is simply amazing and so poignant. The other music was brilliant as well, and we can glimpse from it what lays ahead since many themes from LOTR repeat themselves.
The movie shows us many, many phenomenal panoramic scenes of New Zealand. One of my life goals is to get to see some of them and breathe in the air of Middle Earth. I wouldn’t mind hiking one of the more remote paths if I got to see all these precious sights.
I must not forget the first glimpse of king Thranduil. Wow, just wow. My sister was blown away too. She loved the way the antlers of the big elk(?) he was riding were reflected in his crown. He was just so elvish, she said. I am amazed at the casting – he’s just perfect and he portrayed that ethereal quality of Elves really well, even though we saw just a glimpse of him.
So, to sum up – I loved the movie and I can’t wait for the next one. Perhaps I’ll catch it in the cinema once again before it closes. Highly recommended for all Tolkien fans.