Oh damn, this one hurts to write. Damn! I waited and waited for Peter Jackson to return to Middle-earth. I so wanted to see this film that its previous lack of existence in my life has probably contributed to a myriad of social problems I just can’t explain right now. And after all that waiting, we get this, a nearly three-hour mess that lacks focus and anything resembling pizzazz. Jackson, as we all know by now, has stretched a relatively small book into what will be somewhere in the neighborhood of nine hours after three films and, so far, it’s a big mistake. Martin Freeman is fine as Bilbo Baggins, the little hobbit who decides to go on an adventure. In the book, that adventure is a quick, crisp, wonderful thing. In this movie, it’s a bunch of indistinguishable dwarves acting all goofy and stuffing their faces for half the running time, and then a bunch of battles that have no sense of meaning. Smaug the dragon doesn’t really factor yet—Jackson is leaving that for Part Two—and Bilbo gets lost in the shuffle. The movie achieves its only true great heights when Gollum (Andy Serkis) finally shows up for a game of riddles. Until then, the movie doesn’t catch fire, it meanders. And, brother, I’m heartbroken over it. I watched this in standard 3-D. I’ll try to see it in the much debated 48fps—twice the normal film speed and definition—and give an update on how this looks at a later date.