The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey

(PG-13) ★★★☆☆

This first of three movies to be extracted from J.R.R. Tolkien’s slim novel is moderately engaging. Bilbo Baggins (Martin Freeman), a homey hobbit ill-suited to dangerous adventures, gets mixed up in just such a quest. Bilbo and Gandalf (Ian McKellen) and 13 dwarves set out to reclaim the ravaged kingdom or Erebor. Peter Jackson is up to his old tricks, and it’s pleasant enough, but three films seem a bit extreme and the controversial 48 frames-per-second that Jackson used is awful. See it in 24 if you can.

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A Cinematic Dumpster Dive

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A Cinematic Dumpster Dive

The first months of the year are known as the “dump months” in Hollywood. It’s a bleak stretch for cinephiles, traditionally packed with movies that studios dislike, and want to release with little fanfare. In the Hollywood ecosystem, the dump months serve an important purpose; not only is winter often a low point for movie revenue, regardless of content (the top-grossing film of January generally earns half of the haul brought in by December’s top grosser), but padding theaters with celluloid sacrifices allows for all-important Oscar coverage to dominate the news cycle.

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