Attention, people of Middle-earth, adventure is coming.
While the wait may have seemed longer than the Valian Era, "The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey" is a countable number of hours from opening at a theater near you. There are as many formats in which to see it as there are shards of Narsil waiting for Aragorn in Rivendell, so we have a ready made excuse to disinterested friends and spouses for our return trips. Multiple viewings, however, should not diminish the importance of that key Thursday at Midnight show.
Here, then, is the proper way to take in "The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey" on Planet Fanboy.
As someone who has a difficult time separating fantasy from reality (despite the tireless work of Dr. Karen Abramowitz) I feel it is important to immerse yourself in the world of the film as much as possible. Peter Jackson and company put plenty of elbow grease into this, the least you can do is make an effort.
For starters, you gotta get a solid group together.
Whether you need a full Fellowship is up to you, but if there's anything Tolkien has told us is that you can't go at big achievements all your own. You need someone to smile at as Howard Shore's music swells and a computer generated sunrise adds gorgeous color to the landscape. So scroll through your Facebook contacts and see which dweebs that're probably into this sort of thing haven't moved back home to their parents'.
You're also going to need to dress up.
Cloaks, sackcloth pouches, quite possibly a wooden walking stick. You should also be the one to take it upon yourself to be the guy in a giant pointy wizard's hat. (Don't sit in the last row, either, be sure to sit right in front of someone who looks likely to complain.) Go the extra mile and bedazzle the hat a bit, too. Moons and stars are fine, but heavy metal band patches are a nice touch, and there's also no reason not to try something unexpected. A finely rendered drawing of Ellen DeGeneres arm-wrestling Benito Mussolini while riding a giant sandworm will, if nothing else, get people asking questions. I'm just gonna' assume you've been working on the appropriate facial hair for months and that you have no interest in wearing shoes.
As your crew is gathering (and, perhaps, sewing) you are going to need to eat.
Hopefully your repast will match the Dwarves' at Bilbo's, with giant portions of ham, mutton and comically large legs of fowl. Ale is expected, unless you are Gandalf and prefer red wine. Burping is encouraged as is what the British call "bottom-burping." (Okay, I am basing that from one 25 year old Rik Mayall joke I half-remember, but that's enough to ascribe a phrase onto an entire culture, isn't it?) Whether or not you choose to puff rings of "Old Toby" is entirely dependent on if you live in California and have a doctor's note. Of course, there's always the Hobbit fare at Dennys. Do what you need to do.
The Dwarves of "The Hobbit" are quick to jump into song.
Indeed, the after-dinner crooning of "Misty Mountain" is probably the best thing in the movie. So being tuneful should absolutely be a part of your pre-screening prep. You should dig up that old clip of Leonard Nimoy singing his "Legend of Bilbo Baggins" as well as some choices from the mighty Led Zeppelin. "Misty Mountain Hop" has the driving beat to keep you marching through Orc-festooned landscapes and "Ramble On" (which makes references to Moria and Gollum) soars with the confidence and grace of a Manwe Eagle. If that isn't enough to scratch the itch, there's still plenty of bombast and mythos in Richard Wagner's "Der Ring des Nibelungen." Just be sure to allot plenty of time.
"The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey" is all about a hunt for gold coins.
A little pre-film gaming is also in order. Official "LOTR" games are plentiful, but I'm all about the classics and group effort. To that end, try your best to find an old coin-operated "Gauntlet" so you and three of your closest friends can battle goblins amid labyrinthian tunnels and make a creepy computer-enhanced "uhhhhh" when you die. If there's no arcade stuck in 1987 near you, this is a fine time to blow the dust of your DM's Guide, whip out some graph paper and play some Advanced Dungeons and Dragons. Gary Gygax, after all, probably did more than anyone other than Peter Jackson to keep the spirit of Tolkien alive.
Enjoy the film!