Bilbo Baggins leads the story, played with wile and innocence by English actor Martin Freeman. Freeman is not a name found on many filmgoers lips but his experience playing Dr Watson in the Sherlock Holmes series, was a perfect precursor to his role in the previous Hobbit movie, The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey (2012). Blessed with the wide eyed innocence of an investigator and cautious adventurer, few actors could portray the complex Bilbo as well as Martin Freeman.
The supporting cast is a wonderful collection of the regal actors of our time including Ian McKellen, Richard Armitage, Cate Blanchett, Orlando Bloom, Christopher Lee, Stephen Fry, Billy Connolly, Christopher Lee, Aidan Turner and James Nesbitt.
The Hobbit book runs more than 300 pages and was written back in 1937 but its themes are as appropriate today as they ever were. The dwarves invite or perhaps blackmail Bilbo Baggins to come on their journey to the Lonely Mountain and steel back the jewels that are rightfully theirs. Bilbo, who has never travelled far from his garden gate, finds the journey inevitable and somehow meaningful. His goal is not narcissistic but a determined effort to right wrongs and keep the underdog, short as they are, with the rewards they had been assigned from days of yore. Although Mr. Baggins repeatedly questions the wisdom of his decision to accompany his new friends, he handles his fortunes, both good and bad, with earthy wits and ultimately saves the day. And all that without regularly enjoying his much loved diet of seven daily meals. Bilbo Baggins reminds us that heroic behavior can come from the lowliest of people, even those with hairy feet.
Will The Hobbit; the Desolation of Smaug ruin the reputation of Peter Jackson, the director of the trilogy of movies? Peter Jackson’s previous trilogy, Lord of The Rings, was based on a book that is more than three times the length of Hobbit. But Jackson has been blessed with more than 100 pages of back story notes provided by the creative JRR Tolkien, the book’s author. This provided a depth to the movie scripts that have offered Peter Jackson the freedom to tell a great story while keeping the hard-core fans at peace. Without these additional notes, Hobbit may never have been made into a trilogy, for good or for bad. Criticism has been levied that the studio agreed to make these movies because of the certain financial success, not because the story necessitated such lengthy treatment. Time will tell.
In the meantime, Martin Freeman has an intense press tour to handle. He may have increased his net worth to $15 million but he’s going to be working very hard until the movie is released. The result will be that The Hobbit; the Desolation of Smaug will not ruin our appetite for Bilbo Baggins, the Hobbit. And that bodes well for next year’s final movie.
By Vicky Judah