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Director: Peter Jackson
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Running Time: 169 min.

When Gandalf the Grey and a roudy bunch of dwarves show up on his doorstep, the flustered Bilbo Baggins tries very hard to send them away.  He is not interested in any adventures, thank you!  Although the story of the dwarves’ lost homeland intrigues him, the fear of being roasted by the dragon who has taken over the Lonely Mountain makes him faint.  And he is certainly not the burglar that Gandalf has told the dwarves that he is!  But the next morning when he awakes to find the dwarves gone on their quest, something seizes hold of Bilbo and he runs out the door on an adventure after all.  

Unfortunately, the quest of the dwarves has not gone unnoticed.  An old orc enemy of their leader, Thorin, is determined to chase down and destroy the “dwarf scum.”  Further complicating matters, the dwarves will need the help from the elves to read an ancient map, and not all of the elves and wizards approve of their mission.  Meanwhile, the woodland wizard Radagast delivers concerning news that a dark power–a necromancer–has awakened somewhere in the South.  Gandalf fears that a sinister change is beginning in Middle Earth…

I thoroughly enjoyed this film.  If you are hoping for a faithful adaptation of The Hobbit, however, you may be disappointed.  While The Hobbit is a fairly lighthearted children’s book, the film is much darker and more violent–similar to the Lord of the Rings films.  While some aspects of the Hobbit quest are portrayed with acute attention to detail (such as the descriptions of the dwarves and their rowdy party at Bilbo’s house) and others are only slightly altered to be more action-heavy (such as the encounter with the trolls and the Stone Giants), there are huge plot threads added in–many coming from other Tolkien works.

Instead of an adaptation of The Hobbit, the film is more of a prequel to the Lord of the Rings films.  The book The Hobbit was written before the LOTR books and explains how Bilbo Baggins acquired the ring of power, as well as introducing some of the characters and types of characters who would be major players in LOTR.  The film goes beyond this.  Assuming that viewers have already seen LOTR, the film traces not only the quest of Bilbo and the dwarves but also the early signs of the rise of Sauron and some of the backstory of the tensions that exist between the different races (elves, dwarves, men, etc.).  It also matches LOTR in tone–much darker than the Hobbit book.

Thinking of it as a prequel to The Lord of the Rings, I loved the film and am thoroughly looking forward to the next two installments!  There was still plenty of humor, Bilbo’s character development still moved from nervous, accident-prone, and useless toward confident, heroic, and repected by his fellows, and so many interesting themes from LOTR are picked up and explored.  If you liked the LOTR films, I highly recommed checking out The Hobbit!  See it in 3D if you can; it is not gimicky at all and adds a lot of depth.

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