How To Prepare For ‘The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey’

By Hannah Soo Park

It’s time to stop dilly-dallying around, because things are starting to get real, fast. We have just a few precious hours before “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey” hits theaters, so let’s knock off a few to-dos to get the most out of this long-awaited Middle-earth experience.

Throw a quickie “Lord of the Rings” semi-marathon party
You may not even have the time to throw a guest list together, so really, you’re most likely on your own for this one. Set up to twelve hours (yes, twelve) aside to insure that you’ll get at least a taste of all three “Lord of the Rings” films before you can mad dash it over to the nearest “Hobbit” screening. While the forthcoming film is actually a prequel to the “Lord of the Rings” trilogy, it wouldn’t hurt to get a basic understanding of the complex Middle-earth scene. Who knows? You may even pick up a few buzzwords here and there, and memorize the crucial faces set to re-appear in the “The Hobbit.” We should also mention that if you’re reading this post right now, you’ve most likely run out of a huge chunk of time. So pick and choose a few scenes to watch, or put those speed-reading abilities to work and flip through Tolkien’s “The Hobbit,” instead.

Listen to the soundtrack, again and again
Start listening to Howard Score’s epic score, currently streaming on Rolling Stones’ website, and you’ll be transported back within the cozy confines of Middle-earth before everyone else. Shore reportedly scored the songs of the film while reading the book, so its easy to assume that getting an early listen will help you to get a feel for the heart of the tale that the movie’s based on. And to top off your Shore-tastic easy listening session, get a quick preview of the dwarves singing “Misty Mountain” in this music video clip.

Get your caffeine fix
With sweeping aerial shots of New Zealand’s breathtaking mountains, epic battle scenes and colorful characters, staying awake during an almost-three-hour-long film seems like a total walk in the park. But if you’d rather err on the side of safety, we recommend that you up your caffeine intake just before heading to the theater. If that means taking a shot of espresso (or two) or guzzling a few cans of Red Bull all in the name of getting the full Tolkien-Jackson experience, then more power to you.

Get familiar with the many, many dwarves
“Lord of the Rings” may have had a diverse band of travelers (humans, wizards, elves, dwarves and hobbits), but “An Unexpected Journey” follows Bilbo Baggins, a hobbit, and his merry bunch of dwarves. All donning elaborate facial hair and faring around the same height, it’s pretty hard to tell these unexpected heroes apart. To avoid wasting your precious movie-watching energy on distinguishing one beard from the other (out of 13 different braids and cuts!), do your homework now and study up on the dwarves that you’ll come to know and love in the nine-or-so-hour trilogy to come. With a fun, easy-to-read flow chart structure, LotrProject’s cheat sheet should be a good place to start.

Weigh the six different screening options
Okay, here’s where your mind will start to boggle. On top of debating whether or not you want to wear a costume to the midnight screening, you also have a menu of six different viewing options to pick and choose from: standard format, 3-D, IMAX or 3D IMAX, along with the controversial high frame-rate 3-D and high frame-rate IMAX 3-D versions. Like the rest of the average movie-going population, you might be totally confused. And that’s okay. Don’t let the daunting task of picking the perfect viewing option add stress to your pre-watching experience— just go with your gut. If you’d rather keep it simple, stick with the standard rate. But if you’re open to trying new things, go ahead and try one of the higher frame-rate options. You won’t have anything to lose—except maybe the dinner you just ate.

Avoid knock-offs
Because you ’re definitely not going to mistakenly purchase a knock-off “Hobbit” film that involves cavemen and tossed spears—at least anytime soon, that is. THR reports that a California federal judge placed a temporary restraining order on the release of “Age of The Hobbits,” since, you know, rational people might be tricked into buying what they think is a pre-released DVD copy of Peter Jackson’s big-budget epic “The Hobbit,” only to find that it’s…not the same thing. Oops! The movie, which was supposed to go on sale in stores and online Tuesday, is now titled “Clash of the Empires.”

What are you doing to prepare for “The Hobbit”? Let us know in the comments below and on Twitter!