‘Age of the Hobbits'
A classic example of a tick hitching a ride on the back of a big dog, “Age of the Hobbits” has absolutely nothing to do with J.R.R. Tolkien or with Peter Jackson's hotly anticipated new franchise film due to storm the multiplexes on Friday.
Instead, it's the cheeky work of B-movie production company The Asylum (maker of cheapo knockoffs such as “The Da Vinci Treasure,” “Snakes on a Train,” “Transmorphers,” “Titanic II” and scores of others). Obviously squeezing through a legal loophole to employ the term Hobbits, this picture clearly hopes to piggyback on the buzz created by Jackson's Tolkien juggernaut.
Apparently, Hobbits were not just a Tolkien invention but were also the name of a real pygmy tribe that inhabited the Indonesian jungles thousands of years ago.
So, “Age of the Hobbits” is set 12,000 years ago in Indonesia where a band of pint-size, peace-loving “tree people” (they're never referred to as Hobbits in the film) are attacked and enslaved by the evil Java Men, a horde of dragon-riding cannibals.
And so plucky young tree-hero Goben sets off on a quest to enlist the aid of “giants” (normal-sized human hunters) and to raid the Javas' lair and rescue the “Hobbits.”
Directed by visual effects veteran Joseph J. Lawson (who actually teched on “The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King” and whose thin directing resume includes “Nazis at the Center of the Earth”), this largely goofy fantasy features low-budget CGI effects (giant spiders and a huge woolly rhino) that are a cut above the usual found in Asylum movies. It's certainly not up to Peter Jackson's high-tech standards, but for a pure pretender to the Hobbit throne it's not as bad as you'd expect.
“Age of the Hobbits” is not rated and runs 90 minutes. It's being released by Asylum Home Entertainment.
— Dennis King