The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey

[4.5 stars] [IMDb Link] [Amazon Link]

So Mrs. Salad and I went to see the Hobbit movie. Not wanting to be a technological old fogey, I sprang for the extra dough to see it in 3-D and "high frame rate" (HFR) 48 frames per second (fps). This in contrast to normal movies, which display at 24 fps.

Consumer note: I was not wowed by HFR. Fairly or not, I kept thinking: this looks like TV. (Yes, a very large screen, very sharp TV. But still.) And the 3D is neat, of course. But not really vital to the story. Unless you (like me) just want to see what it looks like, I'd recommend that you save your money. The special effects are capital-I Impressive; they may not have the same sense-assaulting impact in a cheaper showing, but I would imagine they'd be more than satisfactory.

All that is just kvetching, because it's an epic tale, told slowly. This is just part one of a three-film series, and it runs just 11 minutes shy of three hours. Plan accordingly, bathroom-wise.

Plot: A young Bilbo Baggins joins up with the wizard Gandalf and a gang of dwarves to reclaim the dwarves' home in the Lonely Mountain from the evil dragon Smaug. We don't see that much of Smaug, unfortunately, because the group is continuously in peril from orcs, goblins, trolls, and other hostile denizens of Middle Earth. This happens when you stray from the Shire.

Oh, also Gollum. And some sort of ring. Gosh, it's good to see them again.

A number of cast members from the Lord of the Rings trilogy show up here: Ian Holm and Elijah Wood as older Bilbo and Frodo; Ian McKellen (of course) as Gandalf; Hugo Weaving as Elrond; Cate Blanchett as Galadriel; Christopher Lee as Saruman; and (also of course) Andy Serkis as the G-dude. Martin Freeman is young Bilbo, and he's great.

Last Modified 2013-01-15 5:15 AM EDT