BARRY NORMAN: FILM OF THE DAY
The Hobbit: an Unexpected Journey ★★★
Director Peter Jackson has stretched one novel into three films, which does seem a touch excessive. Tolkien wrote The Hobbit as a single adventure and it would have been more exciting if filmed as one. Still, there is much to commend in this first episode, as an older Bilbo Baggins (Ian Holm) remembers how his younger self (Martin Freeman) helped a band of dwarves, led by Richard Armitage, to win back their kingdom, which had been snatched from them by the dragon Smaug. Jackson’s visual flair and use of computer magic, so well employed in his Lord of the Rings trilogy, are strongly in evidence. There is humour, too – for instance, Bilbo’s dislike of adventures because “they make you late for dinner” – along with comfortably familiar figures such as Gandalf (Ian McKellen) and Gollum (Andy Serkis). But what might have been a thrilling, light-hearted romp rather takes its time because, hey, there are two more films yet to come.
The Hasbro game inspired this seafaring alien invasion caper. It’s big, splashy and totally bonkers, with an odd cameo from Rihanna. Just let it wash over you…
Stoner Mark Wahlberg pals up with a trash-talking teddy bear in Seth McFarlane’s mile-a-minute comedy as stuffed full of pop culture gags as his Family Guy.
Pirates of the Caribbean: the Curse of the Black Pearl ★★★★
The POTC franchise starts here, as Johnny Depp, Orlando Bloom, Keira Knightley and crew pull on the outlandish garb and hairpieces for a daredevil pantomime on the high seas. Oooh aaargh.
A Hijacking ★★★★
Playing something like a Danish version of the Tom Hanks film Captain Phillips, this tale of a cargo ship being captured by Somali pirates is, if anything, even more of a white knuckle thriller.
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