From the smallest beginnings come the greatest legends. Things are pretty small where Bilbo Baggins comes from. He is a hobbit of means, content to live in Bag End, tend his garden, smoke his pipeweed, and enjoy a good ale down at The Green Dragon Inn. His life is simple, and it just can’t get any better, but one day his lineage catches up with him. Being of the line of Took, there is a mysterious lady that once became the mate of one Bilbo’s ancestors, and through this the great wizard Gandalf, thinks Bilbo might have the burgling talents to help a group of dwarves in their quest to regain their old home, in the city of Erebor with the Lonely Mountain. It just so happens that the city is inhabited by the nastiest of dragons, Smaug.
The dragon lies under this huge golden horde like Scrooge McDuck going for a dive in his money bin. Before they can do this, they must have a burglar, and Gandalf has sent to dwarves ahead to Bag End to meet with Bilbo. So after meeting them in intervals, the dwarves pretty much devour everything in his pantry and wine cellar, but are very neat afterwards about cleaning things up. Bilbo is not happy with this intrusion on what was a pretty nice evening, Gandalf berates him on not being the hobbit he used to know. The young hobbit that was curious about the world around him, and was not upset about things like his mother’s china or dwarves invading his home. Thorin Oakenshield offers Bilbo a 14th share of the spoils from what he might receive if they free the city of Erebor from Smaug’s clutches, but there are negative things in the contract that are making Bilbo rethink this adventure. After some more thought, the next day, Bilbo signs on, and joins the dwarves… but this is not exactly where the story begins!
Some years ago, the dwarven kingdom of Erebor was a thriving underground city filled with treasures from the earth. Gold, silver, gems, mithril, just about anything these master metal and jewel crafters could make, it could be found here. They also did a great trade with the nearby city of Dale, a city of men that was equally as prosperous, until a nasty red dragon heard of this amazing horde and had to make it his own. The elves were called on to help their dwarven allies, but the arrogant King Thranduil would not put his people in such peril, this began the great rift between the elves and the dwarves. King Thror was taken in by horde fever, and did not want to give in. His son was a bit of a coward, which left the only true noble dwarf left to take on Smaug, Prince Thorin, whom had more kingly qualities than Thror himself.
The dragon overpowered the dwarven forces, and those that could ran, but the cities of Erebor and its trade partner, Dale, where devastated by Smaug’s greedy rage, thus this left Thorin with a company of dwarven warriors and advisers to help him find a way to reclaim Erebor. Through his travels, he worked as a smith, made some very dangerous orc enemies, like Azog the White, which gave him his known name, Thorin Oakenshield, since he fought off this orc with only his sword and a hollow oak log as a shield. Azog lost his hand, but gain his fury in that fight, and still hunts for Thorin. Thorin made a home in the Blue Mountains of Ered Luin, far from any orc cities.
Back in the Shire, Bilbo has signed on finally as the company’s burglar, but Thorin still has his doubts about bringing him along. As Gandalf has said, “The thing about hobbits is, that you can learn everything you could ever know about them in a hundred years, but they still manage to surprise you.” Bilbo does nothing less.
The company makes its way through Eriador, and run into some trouble in the Trollshaws, with trolls, then with Azog’s horde, then are helped by a group of elves, which they find very unlikely, but these are the elves of Rivendell, a more progressive elven society than that of Mirkwood or Lothlorien. The dwarves are surprised that their host Lord Elrond is as welcoming as he is. Rivendell is a very safe place, hidden but bright. Not only do the dwarves find a respite here, but with the great minds of Lord Elrond, Gandalf, and the Lady Galadriel coming together to help decipher the map which is their guide back to the Lonely Mountain.
While the dwarves are working their way to their lost city, a crazed old wizard, Ragagast the Brown, one whom loves nature over all things, has watched as his forest friends are being taken from him by a blight that has taken over the Greenwood, which now is called Mirkwood. Huge spiders run through it, doing the deeds of the necromancer of Dol Guldar, which is truly the Dark Lord Sauron. Azog has also become an agent of Sauron, which makes his hunt for Thorin doubly important to him.
After the rest in Rivendell, another danger seems to be looming, when the dwarves take shelter in a dark, empty house, but this house belongs to a beorning, a man that can shapeshift into a bear. He lets the dwarves stay, because he hates orcs far more than he hates dwarves. The night is uneventful, but the day brings more danger as Azog’s horde is hot on the heels of the company, and eventually trees them like a bunch of scared cats, and they soon find themselves dangling from a pine tree on a cliff that has uprooted. Bilbo find that surprising Took courage and comes down the tree to take on Azog on his own, which encourages Thorin to do the same. Azog gets away for another fight someday, but the dwarves soon find they are much closer to the Lonely Mountain than they realise.
This is a great opener to the tale of the greatest adventure, and it keeps you want to see more, and so you shall, in the two sequels behind it. Based on the classic children’s novel written by Tolkien in 1937, it never gets old, and this series of movies will not either.
I give this film a Musing review of