At this time of year, won't you please think of New Zealand's economy and return to Middle Earth for the first in a trilogy of The Hobbit films, starting with An Unexpected Journey. Flagrantly ripping off Star Wars, Peter Jackson forges a prequel to his previous sword and sorcery Lord of the Rings epics, this time following young hobbit Bilbo Baggins (the always charming Martin Freeman) who joins a company of dwarves set to reclaim their ancestral homeland from bloodthirsty goblins and a greedy dragon. Shockingly, considering the amount of council meetings and battle scenes, everyone seems to be having a lot more fun this go around. Part of that may be J. R. R. Tolkien's more child-oriented story. But having sat through nine hours of Elijah Wood being tired in the previous trilogy, it's pretty refreshing to see Gandalf, Gollum and Elrond finally yucking it up.