DVD review: First part of 'Hobbit' is a visual feast

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Grade • B+

DVD • It will take two more movies in Peter Jackson's prequel trilogy to know if "The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey" is a masterpiece or Jackson's version of "The Phantom Menace." The betting seems to be toward the former, as Jackson retains his gifts for filling his vision of J.R.R. Tolkien's Middle-Earth with an insane amount of detail that makes the mythical place feel as real as your backyard.

He also expands on Tolkien's original book, with plenty of background information on the dwarves who enlist poor Bilbo Baggins (Martin Freeman) on their epic quest.

There are a variety of extras available, depending on the edition — but even just the movie straight is enough to whet one's appetite until part 2, "The Desolation of Smaug," hits theaters Dec. 13. —

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