What is it with Christmastime movies that run nearly three hours? "The Hobbit" is long - needlessly so. Director Peter Jackson seems to love every character and every set piece so much, he can't tear the camera away. But "The Hobbit" does feature a lightness, at least during the first half, that makes it more enjoyable than "The Lord of the Rings." That lightness is a reflection of both the source material and the touch that Jackson brings. Oh, and of the acting: Martin Freeman is the master of the comic double-take as Bilbo Baggins. The second half is rife with action scenes - dwarves battling all sorts of evil, mountains coming alive and fighting each other. All very Tolkien by way of Jackson and his crack special effects team.
- KRISTINA DORSEY