Peter Jackson has given us the first of three films with “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey”, based on J.R.R. Tolkien’s book, the next two installments to be released in the next two years. Martin Freeman is wonderful as the young Bilbo Baggins, plucked from his comfortable Hobbit life by Gandalf (the always terrific Sir Ian McKellen), to join 13 dwarves in a quest to recapture their home from the terrible dragon Smaug. It takes a way too long for the road trip across Middle Earth, fraught with peril,  to get underway. The arrival of the dwarves, one at a time, at the Baggins Hobbit House borders on George Lucas cuteness, but once the journey begins we start to absorb the new 48 frames per second, 3D technology, check ahead to see which format is screening near you. At times the images are so crisp it almost seems as if you’re watching Super HD video. Andy Serkis returns as Gollum, in a motion capture acting triumph, and has a wonderful scene with Baggins. There are some creatively scary moments in the many battles faced by the dwarves, but for my taste it all gets to be a little too much of a good thing and stretches credulity that the dwarves can survive unbelievable odds with out a single loss, but there are still 2 more installments to come, so the story (long as it is) has only just begun.

Rated: PG-13 (for extended sequences of intense fantasy action violence, and frightening images)

My GPA: 3.0

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