Starring: Martin Freeman, Ian McKellan, Richard Armitage, Ken Stott, Hugo Weaving, Cate Blanchett, Andy Serkis
Director: Peter Jackson
There are certain movies that define a generation and for those who were in their teen at the beginning of the noughties The Lord of the Rings trilogy were those films.
Almost a decade on we are returning to Middle Earth as Peter Jackson has adapted The Hobbit for the big screen.
And from the opening scenes to the closing credits there is, once again, that excitement and enchantment that made the first trilogy so special for so many people.
As far as I am concerned Peter Jackson has done it again as he has delivered a movie that lays the foundations of the trilogy as well as making this a marvelous movie.
The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey was always about setting the scene he establishes relationships, gives backstory and sets the quest off and builds up to what you know are going to be epic moments in the films to come.
You have to remember The Fellowship for the Ring was not as big and as sweeping a movie as the two that followed it - however it is my favourite.
Yes it does take a little time for the adventure to get up and running but the long scenes of the Dwarves at Bag End and Bilbo deliberating over whether or not to go on the quest as well as a bit of backstory are all vital - and the film would be lacking without these moments.
But once the quest to reclaim The Lonely Mountain are underway the action comes thick and fast as Jackson takes audiences on one hell of a ride.
The cast is simply superb as Freeman really does seem to embody the spirit of Bilbo Baggins; reserved and timid on the outside but there is an adventurer just bursting to get out.
I must admit that I wasn't quite sure of the casting of Freeman when it was first announced but I am pleased to say that he delivers a performance that has great assurance and understanding over the character.
The best moment for him is the iconic riddle scene with Gollum - it really is one of the best moments of the movie.
Gollum is one of the most interesting characters in the movie as Serkis has had to almost forget everything that he did for The Lord of the Rings as those events have not happened for this character yet.
Gollum provides some of the best comedic moments as he argues with himself during the games of riddles.
Serkis is once again outstanding in this role as he shows Gollum to be a conflicted character and yet one that you can never hate - the moment that he realises that the ring is well and truly gone is a very touching one.
But there is one standout performance in this movie and that belongs to Richard Armitage as Thorin and I am excited to see this character develop over the next two movies.
Armitage has a real presence and a power in this role that was a little unexpected her grabs he your attention and never lets it go.
He is a character that carries the weight of his people and he feels that the responsibility of reclaiming Erebor from Smaug lies firmly on his shoulders.
Armitage depicts Thorin as a character who is mighty and brave as well as filled with self doubt at the task that lays before his - he strikes this balance beautifully.
Ian McKellan is also at his terrific best and it is great to see him back as Gandalf the Grey as he is a more interesting character than Gandalf The White.
As well as iconic moments from the book we are also treated to new scenes that were takes from notes and left out scenes by Tolkien himself and these allows characters like Galadriel to make an appearance.
I am sure that some of the purists won't like these additions but they work well and foretell the doom and darkness that comes on The Lord of the Rings series.
The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey is a great adventure from start to finished that is packed with action and intrigue as well as laughs and fantastic characters.
Jackson may have added new things to the story but he has stayed true to the work of Tolkien and the spirit of the original story.
Yes it is not completely perfect as some of the scenes with Radagast The Brown are a bit of a waste of time but for the most part Jackson has got this spot on.
The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey really does set the scene for the next two movies and we are in for a treat over the next couple of years. The only downside is we are going to have to wait 12 months for the next instalment.
The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey is out now
FemaleFirst Helen Earnshaw