So, was it worth all the fuss?
In my opinion, yes! Please note, this isn't a proper movie review, just a sharing of my experience when I went with my friend, Jasna, her son Kris and my nephew Max last Wednesday. Kris was the only one of us who hadn't read either The Hobbit or Lord Of The Rings. The rest of us had read both.
And we all enjoyed it very much. Max and Jasna declared that they were going to stay in the cinema till the next movie came out.
I found I didn't mind all the prequel stuff at the beginning - you can have Thorin Oakenshield telling his story in a book, but in a movie you have to show it. You even got to see how he got the name Oakenshield, something Tolkien told outside the novel. And I couldn't help chuckling when, among the Dwarves fleeing from Erebor and the dragon they showed some recognisable women - without beards! Tolkien, bless him, was so into his boys' club that he kept forgetting that the fathers of the fathers of the Dwarves had to have women in their lives. When it eventually did occur to him that people would want to know why you never saw female Dwarves he explained that they were a minority, they rarely went out and that they sometimes chose not to marry, leaving a vast majority of males. Oh, and by the way, they had beards! Terry Pratchett has had a lot of fun with this in his Discworld novels, creating a Dwarf society in which it's considered uncouth for a female Dwarf to reveal her gender and Dwarf courtship involves carefully working out whether the other person is male or female.
Until a reread recently I assumed that the only woman to appear in The Hobbit novel was Lobelia Sackville-Baggins, but I was wrong. She isn't mentioned. It's "The Sackville-Bagginses" who are trying to buy Bag End while Bilbo is away. So in fact, there are no women in the book at all, except a mention of Bilbo's mother Belladonna Took and one of Thorin's sister, the mother of Fili and Kili. So while Galadriel doesn't do a lot in this movie, I don't mind her being there. She and Saruman were brought in, I suspect,as an introduction for their more important appearance at that White Council meeting in the next(?) movie.
The Unexpected Party happened in the evening instead of tea time, but those two Tolkien songs were both there, with the Dwarves merrily throwing dishes around and singing the song that goes,"That's what Bilbo Baggins hates!" while poor Bilbo protests and the dishes, of course, are washed, dried and stacked neatly.
I didn't mind Radagast the Brown appearing in this one, since he didn't appear in the FOTR movie, even though he only was mentioned in The Hobbit. And wasn't he a character, nursing hedgehogs whom he names individually and wearing birds under his hat and having bird droppings in his beard and long hair. Sylvester McCoy was a delight in the role. I couldn't help remembering I saw him and Ian McKellen together in King Lear in Melbourne(McCoy was the Fool).
There was a lot of fighting in it - the Dwarves are shown as a brawling, riotous bunch, as you would expect.
Barry Humphries was the Goblin King,and while you only heard his voice, he seemed to be having a lot of fun. Can't wait to see Stephen Fry as the Master of Laketown!
Middle-Earth was as beautiful as last time and Howard Shore was back with his glorious musical score - some leitmotifs left over from last time, of course, and some new ones. I will be spending some of my JB Hifi gift voucher on the score.
Bring on the next movie!