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By Megan Bianco
Ten years ago, when Harry Potter was the most popular and successful franchise for anyone under 15 years old, Lord of the Rings was the most popular and successful franchise for anyone over 15. Eight years ago, Return of the King won 13 Oscars, including Best Picture. Now, nearly a decade later, Peter Jackson and comTHE HOBBIT: AN UNEXPECTED JOURNEYpany are back with the most anticipated prequel of the year: The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey.

The story begins with hobbit Bilbo Baggins (Martin Freeman) 60 years younger and asked by Gandalf (Ian McKellen) to join 12 dwarves on an adventure to reclaim the Lonely Mountain—lead by the last dwarf prince, Thorin (Richard Armitage). The party is also being pursued by a group of large, savage orcs on the hunt for them as well.

Lord of the Rings regulars Elijah Wood, Ian Holm, Cate Blanchett, Christopher Lee and Lee Pace appear in cameos throughout the film. Freeman gives an impressive performance as the young protagonist and Aidan Turner becomes the most memorable dwarf. While the original trilogy was phenomenal and mesmerizing, The Hobbit comes off indulgent and tedious in pacing as well as over-the-top visuals. By the end of the movie, the audience is left to wonder why Jackson didn’t just make one epic blockbuster instead of a new nine-hour trilogy.

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