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December 14th, 2012

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey

Starring: Martin Freeman, Ian McKellen, Richard Armitage, Ken Stott, Graham McTavish, William Kircher, James Nesbitt, Stephen Hunter, Dean O'Gorman, Aidan Turner, John Callen, Peter Hambleton, Jed Brophy, Mark Hadlow, Adam Brown, Ian Holm, Andy Serkin, Elijah Wood, Christipher Lee, Benedict Cumberbatch, and more.

Directed by: Peter Jackson Screenplay by: Fran Walsh, Philipa Boyens, Peter Jackson, and Guillermo del Toro Based on the novel "The Hobbit" by: J R R Tolkien Cinematography by: Andrew Lesnie Original Music by: Howard Shore

Premise: Bilbo Baggins' tranquil life is turned upside down when Gandalf comes to viist. Not only is the wizard wanting to take Bilbo on an adventure, but he invites thirteen dwarves to come meet at his home. Worse, Gadalf has told the dwarves that Bilbo is a burglar and that he's the right person to invite along on their grand quest. And much to his own surprise, Bilbo decides to go along after all. (Rated PG-13)


1) Acting - Total Thumbs Up: Martin Freeman is perfect as the reluctant adventurer Bilbo Baggins. Ian McKellen was incredibly expressive as he reprised his role as Gandalf the Grey. Richard Armitage shows Thorin's greatness as well as his fallacies without saying a word. Andy Selkin brought Gollum to life once more, flicking skillfully around the split personality of the pitiful creature.

2) Special Effects - Thumbs Up: Most of the special effects went toward the animation of a lot of the unusual wildlife and other sentient species. And while they moved and interacted well, and I got a good giggle of thinking the Pale Orc looked a lot like Benedict Cumberbatch, I was somewhat disappointed by the fact the orcs, the goblins, and the trolls looked similar to one another. Even for gamers and fantasy fans, the film made it hard on occasion to know which type of foe the adventurers were facing -- all three were mostly hairless with pasty type skin. When standing still the differences were more evident, but during combat and ambushes it was difficult.

Loved the dwarven city when it was shown in its heyday during a flashback. They did several panning shots of the amazing place, but they were rather fast, so it was hard to take everything in. The few places they did slow down on looked amazing!

The small forest animals, the spiders, and the giant birds were incredibly detailed and turned out wonderfully. The few glimpses of Smaug at the beginning and the end were very nicely done. Totally loved the rock warriors too.

3) Plot/Story - Thumbs Up: For those who may not yet realize it, the novel the movie was based on has been split into three movies. "The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey" is but the first, to be followed in 2013 by "The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug," and in 2014 by "The Hobbit: There and Back Again." For seeing a detailed film and getting a lot of time to become familiar with the characters, this is a great thing, but it can also be perilous.

I read the novel thirty plus years ago, so aside from the occasional moment of 'aha!', I've forgotten most of the details, so I can't honestly say how faithful the movie adaptation coincides with the novel, but I did feel it definitely caught the spirit of the book. Even for such a  long film, there's plenty to absorb and on the last half progresses at an incredible pace as the adventurers are beset with problem after problem.

For this first film, they follow the thread of Thorin's adamant belief in the worthless effort to ask the elves fir help and of Bilbo not belonging in his quest. The latter thread builds to a climax and resolution, making a nice story arc for the film to hinge on. And by cutting the novel into three parts, they allow for the telling of the story to be deeper, so the audience can get to know this odd bunch of dwarves and Middle Earth itself.

4) Stunts - Thumbs Up: Faked, real or both, the combat and physical scenes came out quite well. I have to wonder at how many plates were broken during the beautiful dish tossing scene. The insane combat in the goblin domain and the subsequent orc/warg battle had to be a choreography nightmare.

The scene with the dwarves on a spit was priceless.

5) Locations/Cinematography - Thumbs Up: The film was filled with grand sweeping shots, the typical adventurer party going over the spine of mountains shots, and breathtaking scenery shots. Each location was unique and interesting. Definitely a lot of visuals to enjoy and enough variety to make the audience feel they were truly on a journey.

6) Costuming/Makeup - Total Thumbs Up: A great amount of detail was spent making the dwarves look as unique as their culture. The dwarf king even had 'bling' for his beard. The dwarven hairstyles ran the gauntlet from shaven with tattoos to intricate triple splits with braids. Made the elves look totally boring in comparison as they pretty much only wore long straight hair. The dwarves even gave the elves some competition on stylish wear. Kind of fun!

Conclusion: "The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey" is a fun, fantasy adventure film that captures the imagination and does a great job of bringing Tolkien's world to life. (If you see the film in IMAX 3D (well worth it) you also get an extended 9 minute preview for "Star Trek Into Darkness." (6 minutes of new footage and a replay of the preview already out.)

Rating: 4 out of 5 (Hubby's Rating: Worth Full Price To See Again!)

Gloria Oliver
Unveiling the Fantastic



(2015) Fantasy

The King is Dead! Long Live the Undead King!

"What are you implying?"

The magister glided forward and scrunched down beside him.

"That in order to bathe, you must first actually get into the bath."


(2014) Urban Fantasy

It took everything from her, except revenge!

The muscles in my right arm jerked from tension as I tried to make it move and it resisted. A shrill scream inside my head insisted I didn't want to do this. That if I did, there'd be no way to take it back. "I...I'm afraid."


(2011) Young Adult – Fantasy

Which is worse…the monster without or within?


Home—family—the two things he would never have, the two things forever denied him…because of her.

Anger welled inside him, the heat of it suffusing him to the core, gurgling with seething emotions the total opposite of the coolness splashing down from the fountain nearby. Before he realized what he was doing, Jarrin stepped inside the gazebo.

(2007) Young Adult – Fantasy
“Harry Potter meets Dragon Riders of Pern”


“Do you need any help?” she asked. “Just tell me what you want me to do. If you prefer, I’m sure I can round up at least a few people to come over and give you a hand.”

Kel slowly shook his head. “It’s all right. Thanks anyway.” His voice lowered to where she almost couldn’t hear it. “This is all part of my punishment.’

She frowned, not understanding what he meant. “Punishment?”

Kel cocked his head in Clarence’s direction. In a flash, she understood. None of this was an accident. Clarence had landed there deliberately, hoping to make Kel pay for all he went through in the past month. She shook her head, not wanting to believe this, but what the dragon said next took any doubts right out of her head.

(2008) Young Adult – Fantasy
“To save the world she must DIE! Or must she?”


Panic and fear filled with utter helplessness made her dizzy. She knew what would be done with her, she knew what they planned. But there was nothing she could do to stop any of it.

Sharp gasps echoed in her ears as she felt the room’s cold air caress the Eye.

“You were right. She is the one.”

(2002) Adult/YA – Japanese Fantasy Adventure
“The Last Samurai meets Pirates of the Caribbean”


Laying the blade on the floor before him, Toshi parted his kimono until his stomach lay exposed. He tucked his sleeves beneath his legs to hold him upright if he should falter. Ignoring Asano, he took up the blade. His shoulder flared with pain and he tried not to flinch, as he grabbed the blade with both hands. He turned the wakizashi until its sharp point was aimed at his belly, the residence of his soul.

(2004) Adult/YA – Fantasy Mystery
“He tried to forget his past, but his past wouldn’t forget him”


Torren took a step back a sudden shudder racking through him. It was as if he’d never left, as if the boy he’d been would be coming back-though the one who’d loved this room and all these things was long, long dead. That boy died when he’d watched his father’s blood pour forth from his mouth, the end of a sword protruding from his abdomen. That boy died when he survived while everyone else lay dead.

Info, sample chapters, and free reads at www.gloriaoliver.com

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