‘The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey’

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ND-Lloyd

Too much or too little? When it comes to Tolkien screen adaptations, there seems to be little agreement in how much material to stuff into these movies.

The choice by director Peter Jackson and his team to divide “The Hobbit” into three films is a bridge too far. There certainly is enough story in J.R.R. Tolkien’s slim novel (273 pages in my paperback version) to justify splitting it in twain. But the filmmakers chose to go further, layering in all sorts of material from extended Tolkien lore to pad out what was a simple children’s tale into something as grand – and grim – as “The Lord of the Rings.”

The result is languidly paced and overstuffed. The iconic “Unexpected Party” dinner that opens the tale, with meek hobbit Bilbo Baggins being invited by dwarves to go on a great adventure, overstays its welcome by at least 10 minutes.

I still enjoyed the movie, while recognizing that people less enamored with all of Tolkien’s dense fantasy mythology won’t like it nearly as much. And several sequences, such as Bilbo’s deadly game of riddles with the creature Gollum, are positively thrilling.

“The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey” shows it is possible to have too much of a good thing.

Movie: B


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