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REEL REVIEWS: A long journey for a little Hobbit

Okanagan-based film critics Taylor and Howe give The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey a gander.

Bilbo Baggins (Martin Freeman) is an ordinary Hobbit, living peacefully in the Shire, content to read his books and tend to his garden. After being unwillingly recruited by the wizard, Gandalf the Grey (Ian McKellen) to help a band of Dwarves recapture their mountain home from the dragon Smaug, Bilbo's first great adventure begins.

We say,  The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, is an excellent rendering of the classic tale.

HOWE: Oh dear Peter Jackson, what have you done to our beloved Middle Earth? Don't get me wrong, it is a great looking movie, but why did the director have to make it so kid friendly and immature with so many lame jokes and belching dwarves dotted throughout it. Lord of the Rings grabbed me from the very first moment it appeared on the screen, The Hobbit just wanted to make me sleep in the big comfy reclining chairs for the first 20 minutes or so.

TAYLOR: I'll admit to not being a fan of the Tolkien universe, but other than being a tad long, (nearly three hours) The Hobbit is still an excellent movie. I had my sister Dawn accompany me as my resident Tolkien expert. She thought that although the story had been "Hollywoodized" a bit, it was very thorough in the telling of the tale. She also wished that they had made Hobbit before the Lord of the Rings trilogy, so as not to have to waste 30 minutes tying the two time-frames together. Still, the linking of the films served me well.

HOWE: Maybe it's because The Lord of the Rings is the stronger of the two stories. They did that with the Star Wars series, and let's not forget what happened to them. Hopefully The Hobbit won't go down the same path, but so far, with part one it's not looking like the great adventure I expected it to be.

TAYLOR: Well, I suppose it's safe to say that non-fans might find it a bit long and dull, perhaps they might see it as over-indulgent rather than thorough. For the fans of the tale, or Tolkien, the movie was already accepted before they had seen it. Several members of the packed house came in costume and throughout the film I noticed people were verbally appreciating characters and situations preemptively, laughing at jokes that hadn't happened yet. They already love The Hobbit, which is fine, but I have to judge the movie on its own merits. I found myself entertained, but also tiring of moving from one battle to another via characters I didn't really know or care about. The details are there, but not the meaning.

HOWE: The battle scenes are pretty amazing, but then again what would you expect from Mr. Jackson and company? It's just that I haven't latched onto any character in this, (unlike in the Rings trilogy) and so I'm not really bothered who gets sliced, diced or eaten by an ogre. Roll on part two.

Howe gives The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey three clean plates out of five. Taylor gives it four subsurface levels out of five.

This film is currently playing at Landmark Cinema 7 in Penticton at 7 and 10 p.m. Weekend matinees are at noon and 3:30 p.m.

Brian Taylor and Peter Howe are movie reviewers from the Okanagan.


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