It’s such a pleasure to return to Middle-earth. Peter Jackson and his team have masterfully recreated and expanded the universe according to Tolkien.
I know from the production diaries, created during the filming of *The Hobbit*, that the undertaking was massive. Not just in the technical challenges of filming at 48fps IMAX 3D but also getting the story right. *The Hobbit* isn’t a terribly long book. How in the world can they create three *long* movies? Truth is that originally they planned on it being a two part movie and then realized that there was too much material to cover.
Visually the movie is amazing. The costumes, makeup, sets, and special effects are perfect.
I was surprised by how good the acting was. We all know that Ian McKellen is among the best actors of our time and he doesn’t miss a beat as the Gandalf that we love.
Martin Freeman was a perfect choice for Bilbo. When the series is complete I believe Freeman’s performance will become iconic. His facial expressions, mannerisms, comic timing are surprisingly good. I can see why Peter Jackson bent the filming schedule around Freeman’s availability to make sure he could play Bilbo. ( They had to take a 2-month break during filming so that Freeman could honor a previous commitment for *Dr. Who*. )
I was also impressed with Richard Armitage’s performance as Thorin – the Dwarf leader. Another perfect casting.
The rest of the cast does a fine job which I think is a testament to Peter Jackson’s directing skills. The best actors in the world can’t do a good job without good direction. And average actors can do a masterful job with great direction.
It’s hard for me to judge the pacing of the movie since I already know the story so well. I believe that a large percentage of the casual movie goers will find the pacing to be a little sluggish at times. To be sure there were a handful of chase scenes went on a bit too long. On the bright side they make excellent peetimes! As I waited for the movie to start I was concerned that I would be able to find adequate peetimes. I was happy to discover that it wasn’t difficult to pick out 4 of them, and I think 3 of them are very good to use.
And finally I think the music was pretty good. The central motif of the movie theme works well for dramatic and action scenes.
My biggest disappointment is that I have to wait another whole year to get to the next story. I can’t wait for 2014 when I can watch all three movies back-to-back-to-back.