Just a quick movie note: I took my son to see The Hobbit today, because he's been getting horribly excited every time the commercials come on TV. He slept through most of the first hour (he's 6), but really enjoyed the last two hours.
I was a little wary about this movie, since I loved The Lord of the Rings, because I was afraid that the dark tone of that series would weigh down what is written as (or at least reads as) a light-hearted fantasy adventure, especially over three movies as long as the first three. As it turns out, the tone is darker than the old animated movies I saw as a kid, but there is still a good deal of humor and heroism, enough that we both are now looking forward to part two. Interestingly, one of the most amusing parts of the book and the prior versions was the riddle contest between Bilbo and Gollum, but in this version, although it's pretty much word for word from what I remember, it might be the most intense scene of the entire movie. My son certainly had the pants about scared off him.
There is some stuff in there that I don't remember from the book (although it's been probably 25 years since I read it), and I suspect that some of it was put in to tie the series more firmly to the original trilogy. If the Star Wars prequels had been this well done, well, let's just leave it at that.
If you liked the first three, see it. If you haven't seen the first three, see it. If you didn't like the first three, what the heck's wrong with you?
5 stars of 5
Update: By the way, I shouldl mention this: Of all the 3D movies that have come out over the last 3 years or so, this is the first one that I really felt justified the upcharge. And yes, I've seen Avatar, or as I dubbed it (long before I saw that episode of South Park), Dances With Blue People.