“Lonely Mountain troubles me” says Gandalf the Grey to the would-be king of the dwarves, Thorin Oakenshield, as the two share a talk at the Inn of the Prancing Pony. It’s a year before the dwarves launch their expedition to retake Erebor, and Gandalf fears something dark is stirring in the world. He’s starting to wonder if the dragon Smaug—which initially drove the dwarves from their mountain fortress—could be a bad ally to an even more grievous foe.
His counsel to Thorin: Vanquish the dragon. Reclaim the mountain.
We know, of course, that the melancholy-but-mighty dwarf has embraced Gandalf’s plan. In fact, his company’s perilous quest to rid Erebor of Smaug is already well underway as 13 dwarves, the wizard and the hobbit Bilbo Baggins meander treacherously toward Lonely Mountain’s solitary spire. They’ve already survived nearly getting eaten by trolls, being taken prisoner by goblins, and a wild and wooly pursuit by the vicious orc Azog in The Hobbit An Unexpected Journey.
But that’s hardly the end of their peril.
With Azog’s warg-riding orcs hot on the group’s heels, Gandalf leads them to what he hopes will be sanctuary in the home of a man named Beorn—a man who happens to be a shape-shifting skinchanger whose other form is a massive, fierce bear … that immediately begins chasing them. Then the group plunges into spider-infested Mirkwood where they’re about to become arachnid hors d’oeuvres when they’re taken prisoner by Mirkwood’s fierce, wild wood elves.
So forget the dragon. Just slaying spiders, evading orcs and escaping from the clutches of the cruel, isolationist-minded elven king Thranduil is hard enough.
But a bold escape (thanks to intrepid “burglar” Bilbo Baggins) culminates with the dwarves riding empty barrels down the river out of Thranduil’s forest kingdom and toward Lake Town, a ramshackle former trading center where the folks cling to a prophecy about dwarves coming to reclaim their fortunes.
And so they arrive: 13 dwarves and a hobbit (except for their wizard guide, who’s set off on his own perilous side journey), a motley crew of haggard adventurers with dreadful orcs behind them and a tall, lonely pinnacle in front of them, beneath which the dragon Smaug sleeps on his wide ocean of pilfered dwarven gold.
POSITIVE ELEMENTS OF THE HOBBIT AN UNEXPECTED JOURNEY
Heroism comes in many forms, and it’s the diminutive Bilbo who often rises to its grand occasion, rescuing the dwarves repeatedly. His efforts are reflected by so many of those around him, from the dwarves themselves to Bard, a citizen of Lake Town who agrees (or, it may be said, is convinced by way of silver) to smuggle the group into town. Bard also longs to stand up against the corruption of the small city’s leader, a brandy-sipping glutton.
For his part, Gandalf is always focused on the bigger picture—in this case, the shadowy rise of an old enemy who up to this point has simply been known as the Necromancer. With the help of the wizard Radagast, Gandalf leaves the company and heads toward the seemingly deserted ruins of the castle Dol Guldur—where he faces the devilish entity who is indeed drawing evil forces to himself once more.
Wood elves Legolas and Tauriel have a spirited discussion about how they should respond to this encroaching evil. Tauriel entirely refuses to be happy with letting others fight their own battles by themselves. “It is our fight,” she says. “It will not end here. Say it, are we not a part of this world? When did we let evil become stronger than us?” And so they push the orcs all the way back to Lake Town.
The movie also hints that Thorin Oakenshield’s pursuit of a precious gem called the Arkenstone is fraught with peril. (And, indeed, the beautiful blue bauble has already allegedly driven his father and grandfather mad.) In that, we’re starting to see the story’s cautionary tale about greed, one that goes with the similar influence of the ring upon those who own it.
SPIRITUAL CONTENT OF THE HOBBIT AN UNEXPECTED JOURNEY
Radagast refers to the dark spells being cast by the Necromancer at Dol Guldur. He and Gandalf, both wizards in a world of magic and supernatural phenomena, investigate the violated tombs of nine kings whom the Necromancer has apparently reanimated. Gandalf casts spells to unveil hidden foes in a castle. He battles a powerful enemy using his staff to project light and a protective bubble as he’s assailed by a black, fog-like foe. Beorn is said to be the last of the skin-changers, those who transfer back and forth between human and animal form.
SEXUAL CONTENT OF THE HOBBIT AN UNEXPECTED JOURNEY
A love triangle of sorts emerges as the movie progresses. We learn that Tauriel is in love with Legolas, a relationship that has been forbidden by his father, Thranduil. Meanwhile, Kili is obviously smitten by Tauriel, flirting with her in a double entendre-laden exchange after being inprisoned. “Aren’t you going to search me?” he asks. “I could have anything down my trousers.” To which she retorts, “Or nothing.” Still, Tauriel does seem to have at least a half-crush on Kili, too. And when she heals him of a fever shortly, he wonders whether she could ever love him.