Starring: Martin Freeman, Ian McKellen, Richard Armitage, Ken Stott, Graham McTavish, William Kircher, James Nesbitt, Stphen Hunter, Dean O'Gorman, Aidan Turner, John Callen, Peter Hambleton, Jed Prophy, Mark Hadlow, Adam Brown, Ian Holm, Elijah Wood, Hugo Weaving, Cate Blanchett, Christopher Lee, Andy Serkis, Sylvester McCoy, Barry Humphries
More info: IMDb
Tagline: From the smallest beginnings come the greatest legends.
Plot: A younger and more reluctant Hobbit, Bilbo Baggins, sets out on an "unexpected journey" to the Lonely Mountain with a spirited group of Dwarves to reclaim their stolen mountain home from a dragon named Smaug.
My rating: 8/10
Will I watch it again? Of course.
It's nearly impossible to go into this picture to relinquish the awesomeness baggage that the LOTR trilogy brings. Nevertheless, this is the first of three films so if you feel like the picture was missing something then maybe it'll all come together after the next two. I liked it and it got better the second time I saw it. I never felt like it was too slow. I like the dwarfs and the other new characters. It's also nice to see familiar faces from the first trilogy, especially Christopher Lee. Howard Shore's score feels less epic but maybe that's because this is a less epic story than LOTR. There's much less at stake for the players. The main theme is nicely used whether solemnly sung by the dwarfs or in full-on hero mode.
The absolute best part for my money was the Golum sequence. Wow. Serkis and the effects magicians hit a grand slam on this one. I hope that Jackson is able to work him into the next two films because he certainly brought a lot of weight to the picture. The troll sequence seemed a little short (from what I remember in reading the book many years ago). The goblin sequence was a lot of fun and it was a treat to see in the credits that the goblin king was voiced by Barry "Dame Edna" Humprhies. Effects-wise the Radagast chase was dodgy, even more so in 3D.
Normally I'd have watched this at the opening midnight show but work kept me away for more than a week. That means I also missed seeing it in 48FPS IMAX 3D. Nuts. I first watched it in 24FPS IMAX 3D and then in standard 2D. The 3D was surprisingly underwhelming. I expected a lot more with the 3D. There were a few things where the effect was nice but for the most part my experience was better the second time around in 2D. Fortunately I'll have more opportunities to see the next two films in 48FPS IMAX 3D. Maybe it'll be an improvement.