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The Hobbit Review: Hold on Tight!

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While initially I was not eager to see J.R.R.Tolkien's The Hobbit, I am pleased to say that it drew me in, invited me to study its opening and then once the dwarves appeared, it swept me away.

One spectacular special effects sequence after another. Its ending will lift you up and almost out of your seat. Peter Jackson, who directed, co-wrote and produced this magnificent film, has done it again. The Hobbit is a prequel to the epic fantasy-adventures Lord of the Rings trilogy. This film is subtitled The Unexpected Journey which is made after the Dwarf Kingdom, Lonely Mountain, is reclaimed by dragon Smaug.

This opening sequence is jaw-dropping, but occurs so quickly that it is difficult to comprehend what is happening, hence I was left out in the cold a bit until the appearance of Bilbo Baggins (Martin Freeman).

After the dragon devastates the inhabitants of Lonely Mountain, Ian Holm retells the tale of The Hobbit as this story is told in a flashback of 50 years. It begins with a visit to the light-hearted, rural surroundings of The Shire by the wizard Gandalf played with appropriate majesty by a towering Sir Ian McKellan with his long, long beard, carrying a tall cane and wearing a floor length robe. The wizard announces the pending arrival of 13 dwarves led by Thorin Oakenshield (Richard Armitage) and hires the hesitant home-loving Hobbit to accompany them all on a journey to Middle Earth to reclaim their home and share of a fortune that remains at the Lonely Mountain, stolen by the dragon Smaug (Benedict Cumberbatch).

The charming dwarves arriving one by one to the Hobbit's cottage and devastating his tranquil, well-structured, but boring life. The dwarves in outrageous make up and costumes are played by: Graham McTravish, Ken Stott, Dean O'Gorman, Aidan Turner, Mark Hadlow, Jed Brophy, Adam Brown, John Callen, Peter Hambleton, William Kircher, James Nesbitt, Stephen Hunter, Billy Connolly. Starved these dwarves grab all of the Hobbit's food and render his cottage a mess and without anything to eat. But a scene in which the dwarves magically do the dishes, undoubtedly with the help of the wizard, leaving his cottage spotless shows the heart of this film. Bilbo is asked to sign a contract to accompany the dwarves on their journey to reclaim their home,. At first he rejects this request, but once the dwarves leave and restore tranquility to the Hobbit's home, he realizes he longs for adventure and the excitement these characters brought to his lonely life.

Hence Bilbo runs out of his cottage and into the sinister world of the creatures of Tolkien's Wilderland. They first must escape the goblin tunnels where The Hobbit meets Gollum and accidentally acquires the magical golden ring. Monsters abound and incrementally with the introduction of each new fantastic creature the film builds to a powerful conclusion. By accepting his adventurous spirit, the Hobbit gains a new level of confidence, maturity and wisdom. Personal growth and heroism are among the themes of Tolkien's work.

When the film ended, I looked down at my popcorn and thought where had it gone? I had not remembered eating it all. This film passes so quickly -- once it gets into Tolkien's' Wilderland -- that I realized how much I enjoyed it and suspect you will, too.