Thursday, December 13, 2012

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey Review - 2½ Stars

Fans of “Lord of the Rings” and devotees of J. R. R. Tolkien will no doubt look forward to this film epic–one third of the story drawn out into three hours–I suspect for the sake of commerce rather than art.   Martin Freeman does fine as Bilbo Baggins, the character recruited to help a colony of dwarfs recapture their lost kingdom.  The movie showcases long runs of dialog and punctuates them with bursts of action–fire breathing dragons, reptile like creatures, enemy forces.   This is the story that leads to the story of “Lord of the Rings”–the prequel  and has at least one show stopping moment, when Freeman as Bilbo Baggins, encounters Gollum, the memorable character from “Lord of the Rings” who speaks in Yoda style riddles played by Andy Serkis.  Ian McKellen adds gravitas as Gandalf the Wizard.  I am not a fan of the 48 frame per second 3 D technology director Peter Jackson uses.  It captures backgrounds so realistically that they look fake–which they are.   In other works, the technology detracts from the mythology.  The three-hour running time goes beyond the limits of endurance.  The story stops a third of the way through and feels stretched.   I’ll give it 2 1/2 out of four knowing that fans will love it anyway.  The rest of us might prefer to take a pass.  Does it deliver what it promises?  More fantasy for fans.  Is it entertaining?  Long. Is it worth the price of admission?  For fans.