October 22, 2014
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The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey
Don Fowler
3 stars
Reviewer's Rating:

(Slow, long prequel for "Lord of the Rings" fans)

If you are a fan of “The Lord of the Rings" trilogy, you'll like Tolkien's prequel, "The Hobbit.”

You have your choice of seeing it on the big screen, the much bigger IMAX screen, in 3D, or at Providence Place in a new "fast frame" addition.

Fans will be familiar with the characters and the locations, while the rest of us will have to catch up. Don't worry, there's plenty of time for that – nearly three hours. Once Bilbo Baggins sets out on his unexpected journey, the movie's pace finally accelerates, but it's a long time getting there.

The movie opens with an old Bilbo Baggins writing his memoirs, beginning with the wizard Gandolf (Ian McKellen) showing up at his peaceful Hobbit abode and explaining that he was about to go on a long journey.

Thirteen dwarves show up at his door one by one, consuming his complete food storage, wrecking his house, and convincing him to join them as the "burglar" in the quest to win back the lost kingdom of Erebor, which we watch being destroyed before the credits roll.

Unless you have read the classic more than once, you'll have trouble keeping up with the 13 dwarves, let alone the multitude of good and bad creatures they encounter along their journey. There are dragons, goblins, stone monsters and wolves and some very strange creatures to fend off along the long, long journey. My favorites were three large, ugly creatures who acted like The Three Stooges and were out-bluffed by Bilbo.

The scenes with Bilbo and Gollum (voice of Andy Serkis), that strange little creature with the big eyes, are fascinating, although I had problems understanding the creature.

There are many battles to be fought before the small army is saved by a flock of giant eagles so they may make their way back to Erebor to begin the second part of another trilogy.

To its credit, "The Hobbit" takes the best of Tolkien, using some of the crisp dialogue, special effects and glorious landscapes used in "The Lord of the Rings.”

If only the editors had used their scissors more to cut out some of the long, tedious scenes, perhaps the movie would better hold the interest of non-Hobbit fans.

"The Hobbit" has a cult following that will bring many of its readers to the movie. If you are not one of them, it may be a bit overwhelming for you, as it was for me.

Rated PG-13, with a number of dark, violent moments and some pretty frightening creatures.


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