Epic return to Middle Earth

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey New Line/MGM Rating: 14A 169 minutes

If you liked Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings trilogy you should really enjoy The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey. A lot of the same people are involved, there’s the gorgeous New Zealand scenery and there are echos of the trilogy all over the place. It looks like it’s part of a set, and it is.

The best new face is Martin Freeman, who plays Bilbo Baggins as a young hobbit when Gandalf shows up and gets him involved with a band of 13 warrior dwarves. They go off on a dangerous journey, attacked by vicious orcs, nasty goblins and various other Tolkien creations on their way to recover the dwarves former mountain home. This is the prequel to the other movies as Freeman encounters Gollum (Andy Serkis) and gains possession of THE ring.

The visuals are impressive, as are the effects and a lot of the action. The movie was shot at 48 frames a second instead of the normal 24 and it does make things easier to see and is often quite beautiful. The main problem is that, as attractive as this movie so often is, it is just too long. It also is the first of another trilogy, and knowing Jackson, and his love and dedication for these stories, the next two in the series will be long too. The original trilogy could stand it, but not the shorter hobbit story. We don’t need this much epic.

Rating: four deer out of five

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Alf Cryderman is a Red Deer freelance writer and old movie buff.