Thirteen years ago, George Lucas dropped "Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace" with a loud toilet splash. Two years later, Peter Jackson launched the far-more beloved "Lord of the Rings" trilogy with "The Fellowship of the Ring." By 2005 Jackson had won Best Picture, while Lucas had absorbed a hella ton of nerd grief for his valiant space opera efforts on the prequels.

Now Jackson is in the unenviable position Lucas was in of having to live up to the legacy of his own trilogy with "The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey," the first of three "LOTR" prequels. While it's not a perfect movie by any stretch of the imagination, Jackson's new sojourn into Middle Earth has at least 10 things going for it over "The Phantom Menace," and you better believe we're countin' 'em all down.

categories Movies