(WLTX) - It's been nearly ten years since the conclusion of the "Lord of the Rings" trilogy and, now, it's time for a reunion...only sixty years prior.

"The Hobbit" is the adventure of Bilbo Baggins, Frodo's uncle, and how he came into possession of Gollum's precious ring. He reluctantly accompanies thirteen dwarves who are on a journey to take back their home from an angry dragon. Along the way, they encounter trolls, orcs, elves, goblins, a comical wizard and, of course, Smeagle.

Anyone familiar with the book will remember this as being (for the most part) a very kid-friendly story, filled with fun and humor. It wasn't until Tolkien penned "The Lord of the Rings" that the saga ventured into such dark territory. Now, however, having already introduced us to a Middle Earth filled with carnage, Peter Jackson feels an obligation to uphold the standards he has previously set. Thus, we are presented with a G-rated tale that has been transformed into a PG-13 rated movie. It's as if the source material for the production was not the actual book - but the previous films.

One could probably make a similar argument for the movie's epic length. With a two-hour and fifty minute running time, "The Hobbit" will take you there and back again. Yet, it's only the first third of the story. Mr. Jackson has gone to great efforts to somehow work in many of his established characters, despite the fact that they weren't in the original text. And, because of such self-indugent exposition, the movie takes longer to watch than the book takes to read!

Still, I can't deny the incredible images that cover the screen. Middle Earth is very much alive - regardless of how many frames-per-second you prefer. And Martin Freeman brings some very engaging humor to young Bilbo. But the film's length will likely drain you of your appreciation. It certainly did for me.

By Lee O. Smith, News19 Movie Reviewer