Director Peter Jackson brings us back to Middle-earth in the first part of his trilogy, The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, which is a prequel to his Lord of the Rings movies. Though Jackson is meticulous in adapting J.R.R. Tolkien's classic novel, the movie feels overlong and overstuffed. Still, The Hobbit has new things to show us from Tolkien's world, and this time we go along on an adventure with a young Bilbo Baggins (Martin Freeman), the titular hobbit who has been recruited by the wizard Gandalf (Ian McKellen) to join a team of dwarves in their quest to take back their home from the dragon Smaug. Bilbo is hesitant to leave the comfort of his beloved Shire, but once he gets the adventure bug, he's off — as are we, on a journey that's unfortunately slow, but not without its highlights.
Lord of the Rings fans will no doubt come to see The Hobbit for more of Peter Jackson's able handling of Tolkien's world. However, that comparison ultimately hurts An Unexpected Journey, because it's simply not as captivating as the instalments in the original trilogy. There are unnecessary subplots, expository conversations drag on, and few of the action scenes achieve nail-biter status. To find out what else I thought, just keep reading.