Review: ‘The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey’ (Welcome back, Middle Earth)

If you love Peter Jackson’s previous Lord of the Rings films, there’s nothing to hate or fear here (unless you buy the super-chubby size soda).

“In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit.” Of course, we all know OF Bilbo Baggins (Ian Holm), but how well do you THE Bilbo Baggins? Starting at the beginning of his own adventure, a sixty-year younger Bilbo (Martin Freeman) is set upon by the old wizard Galdalf the Grey (Ian McKellen) and a company of thirteen dwarves led by Thorin Oakenshield (Richard Armitage). The great dragon Smaug took for himself a dwarven kingdom of gold that lay inside the Lonely Mountain, but it has not been heard of or seen in some sixty years and is believed dead. Several factions may be planning to loot the treasure trove, but the dwarves are armed with a map, a key, and their courage to take back their homeland for themselves. They do, however, have need of a burglar, and Galdalf thinks he’s found just the one.

To put all fears to rest, this isn’t The Lord of the Rings: The Phantom Menace. J.R.R. Tolkien’s book “The Hobbit” was a children’s story that hinted at the events that would become the Lord of the Rings trilogy, but in and of itself, it is neither really big enough to support three movies nor violent enough to support the existing fanbase. The appendices for Rings were reportedly looted along with bits of embellishment to create enough material to support two (no wait, make that three films), but if this first installment is any indication, fans the world over aren’t going to mind parting with more of their hard-earned cash. Waiting a year between films? Well, they’ll just have to get over that.

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