Bilbo Baggins is the hobbit called on by Gandalf to help with an important mission, but Baggins doesn't find himself too eager to be apart of it. He has a nice home life in the comfort of living in the land where the hobbits reside. He finally decides it is for the better to help the dwarves reclaim their home, Lonely Mountain. The dwarves are a skeptic of him though after witnessing his easily frightened nature, so he must prove to them he can overcome the obstacles that will face them as they head home to get their city back from the evil that has taken it over.
None of the cast used is so huge that they outshine their characters, unless you're Ian McKellen. The only thing about McKellen is that he is supposed to be a younger Gandalf in this one, but still looks like he has aged a few years. While this movie is missing some of the close knit ties that made the first three the journey about friendship they were this one still showcases it quite well. Martin Freeman does a good job of having the personality saw in the hobbits of their past. He is a likable guy, and you are cheering him on. You even feel for him when the house is raided by the dwarves, and he has to clean up.
There are also other cast members like Richard Armitage as Thorin, who you probably haven't heard much about before, but he does a good job in The Hobbit as the moody dwarf. Cate Blanchett also reprises her role as the Galadriel. While watching them speak with the elves you can't forget that this cast is speaking a language that didn't exist till Tolkien made it up. You do care about their characters though, and the cast has enough to like about them, and enough flaws to get the viewer to still wanting them see that they make it on their journey.
The one thing you will keep thinking back on after watching this though was the landscape, and how Jackson filmed it. You won't want to leave Bilbo's homeland because it is amazing for your eyes to see. The rest of the movie is visually satisfying, but obviously bleaker after leaving the safety of his home. There are some creative scenes used to transition also, but probably also were livened in case you were one of the 3-D viewers. There are some times where the movie lulls though, particularly in the spot where Gollum makes his appearance. While most fans will appreciate seeing one of the most popular characters from the story, his time seems really drew out. You're waiting to get back to the other scenes almost the entire time he is on screen. The scene where the crew finds themselves at the mercy of live rocks is one of the most compelling you'll see in 2012 though.
Of course to get to the final ending you will need to watch the other two to follow this one in the coming years, but this film does a good job of setting you up to come back to those. While the cast lacks a tad bit of the closeness that made the first few films seem very tight in camaraderie we are left knowing there is room for this jumbled group of people to be very good friends by the time it ends. If you're someone who is coming into the film only having watched the previous ones then know that there is a tad bit of a different vibe as this isn't just about a hobbit's development anymore, but the dwarves making a place to call their own again. The Hobbit shows that Peter Jackson still has a lot more to offer regarding his story telling of the Baggins' family.
Rating 4 of 5.