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"The Hobbit"

The choice on Sunday was between seeing "The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey" or seeing "Argo". Wish I'd gone to "Argo", and let my hopes for "The Hobbit" last a little longer.

I wish I could say I loved the film, the way a lot of people on my flist do, but sadly, apart from one brilliant scene and one mildly entertaining one, I didn't find much to enjoy. I do think that Martin Freeman makes a good Bilbo, and his encounter with Smaug should be something to look forward to.

Much as I admired Peter Jackson's "Lord of the Rings" trilogy, I wish someone else could have taken a stab at "The Hobbit". I think Jackson's become a little complacent as the arbiter of all things Middle Earth, and no one dares challenge him (which is why I foresee a slender book turning into three seriously and unnecessarily bloated films). Jackson's not even trying. I found the dwarves either handsome/pretty in the Viggo Mortensen mold, or cartoonish; he got it right with Gimli, but you wouldn't know it from what you see here. And there's nothing new or fresh (unless you count throwing in scenes and characters from the "Rings" films who have no place in "The Hobbit" and pretty much seem to be just turning up, hitting their marks, and collecting a paycheck). We've seen those mines before, and the butterfly summoning the eagles. And I'm sorry, but I'd just like the tiniest bit of reality to creep into fantasy films. For example, when characters go through some great physical peril (falling into caverns, say, or dangling by their fingertips from mountain ledges), can't we at least see a bit of torn clothing, or a few scraped knuckles? A sprained ankle or a broken arm, of course, is like asking for the moon.

Andy Serkis, on the other hand, and what he does here with Gollum, is nothing less than astonishing. Go see the film for him.