After a long, troubled road, it looks as though Peter Jackson's The Hobbit is finally coming together. Last week, Jackson confirmed he would not only be executive-producing but also directing the film, replacing Guillermo Del Toro who left the project last May. Now comes the announcement that Martin Freeman, best known as Tim in the original British version of "The Office," will play the titular Hobbit, Bilbo. "There are a few times in your career when you come across an actor who you know was born to play a role, but that was the case as soon as I met Martin," Jackson said in a statement. Do critics concur? 

Freeman is the perfect choice: This news is a "relief," says Ben Child in The Guardian. Bilbo is an important, nuanced role, and, at 39, Freeman is just the right age. Bonus: He has a fitting "world-weary quality... One can just imagine him bumbling around his hobbit hole happily... and being most disgruntled by the arrival of [interlopers] intent on enrolling him in a rather uncomfortable adventure."
"Martin Freeman as Bilbo Baggins, a match made in Hobbit heaven"

He might be too light-weight for the role: Freeman (The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy) has "unquestioned" comic timing, says Steve Mullen in The Tuscaloosa News, and is well-suited for the first part of the tale, in which Bilbo is a "comfort junkie." But Bilbo has to pass through "the heart of darkness and [come] out the other side a hobbit of considerable resolve. Can Freeman pull that off?" The jury's out.
"Hobbit cast looks promising"

Yawn: This casting announcement is just a nice, convenient "distraction from that nasty game of hardball [Jackson's] playing with the New Zealand Actors' Equity union," says Avi Zenilman in New York. It'd be more interesting to know if Ian McKellen or Bill Nighy were really on board, or who will play the Elf King, but maybe "Warners Bros. just wants to have another distraction in its pocket in case the Jackson labor feud gets worse."
"Peter Jackson announces Hobbit cast"