J.R.R. Tolkien's 1937 novel, "The Hobbit," is all about the journey and, cinematically, that journey is coming to an end. Wednesday marks the release of "The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies," the third and final film that acts as a prequel to "The Lord of the Rings" trilogy. Fans from all over Long Island are geared up and ready to surge.
"It's a classic good versus evil story, which people are instantly attracted to. Director and co-screenwriter] Peter Jackson took a lot of care in developing and linking the stories," says Frank Vincenti, 44, of Port Jefferson, who works as a barber and wildlife educator. "I think it's all going to culminate perfectly. It will be satisfying to see the story completed."
The story focuses on the adventure of Bilbo Baggins, a hobbit (small person) who is backed by a pack of dwarves and wizard Gandalf as they seek to reclaim the Lonely Mountain and the gold it possesses. In the new film, a land war is about to ensue among the dwarves, elves, humans, orcs and goblins of Middle-earth.
"Hobbit" lovers exercise their fandom in a variety of ways -- reading the book, collecting the merchandise and playing games related to the films. Here are three Long Islanders who take their Hobbiting seriously:
When Dan Ratchford, 46, of Coram was 12 years old, his grandmother passed on "The Hobbit" to him and it changed his life.
"It opened my mind's eye into the whole realm of a fantasy world with elves and goblins," says Ratchford, who works as a forklift operator and musician. "I loved the imagery. Everything about it was very romantic."
Although he enjoys the movies, Ratchford feels they can't compare to the written word.
"I don't think any moviemaker can capture what you've got going on in your head," says Ratchford. "Plus, when you read, everyone's perception is totally different."
Adam Swanson, 37, of Smithtown grew up watching the 1977 animated TV movie, "The Hobbit."
"I love dwarves, dragons and wizards," says Swanson, who works as a letter carrier, "so 'The Hobbit' was right up my alley."
Today he enjoys his "Hobbit" hobby with his 10-year-old son Noah. Together they collect "Hobbit" Lego sets, one of which is on display in their living room and two others that are showcased in Noah's room.
"I own 10 Lego sets in total," says Swanson, who also collects "Hobbit" Funko POP character statues. "I'm hoping Santa will bring me the final two Lego sets, 'Battle of the Five Armies' and 'Attack on Lake-town,' which I don't have."
You can often find Bob Evers, 42, of East Patchogue at The Brothers Grim Games & Collectibles in Selden, where he likes to play "The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey" strategy battle game. The board game is played on a 6-foot table with miniature figures that Evers constructs himself. Each figure has certain powers and movements that are measured in points.
"Dozens of hours can be put into designing each statue. It depends how detailed you want to get," says Evers, who works as an operating engineer. "It's a passion."
Matchups are held on specific set days or can be simple pickup games.
"It's a modeling hobby and game all in one," says store owner Gil Rapold. "It's a very involved game. People come in with cases of miniatures."
The only thing missing from Evers' Hobbitry is a first edition copy of "The Hobbit" in mint condition.
"They are so few and far between," says Evers. "It's truly the Holy Grail."
REVIEWING THE LAST IN 'THE HOBBIT' TRILOGY
In his 2½-star review, Newsday film critic Rafer Guzman wrote that "The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies" has "a patchy start and an action-packed climax that make this a passably entertaining series finale."
Read the full review at Newsday.com/movies.
For games, games and collectibles:
THE BROTHERS GRIM
1244 Middle Country Rd., Selden
For books, toys and collectibles:
4TH WORLD COMICS
33 Rte. 111, Smithtown
“The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies” IMAX in 3-D
Nassau: UA Westbury Stadium 12 & IMAX
7000 Brush Hollow Rd., Westbury, 516-333-0055
Suffolk: Regal Deer Park 16 & IMAX
455 Commack Rd., Deer Park, 631-243-4580