Reviews Are In For THE HOBBIT: AN UNEXPECTED JOURNEY! See What the Critics Think

Reviews Are In For THE HOBBIT: AN UNEXPECTED JOURNEY! See What the Critics Think

Mild Spoilers! Reviews for Peter Jackson's latest fantasy offering, The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey have arrived! Hit the jump to check out a compilation of excerpts from some of the top film critics.
What the 48 frame-per-second projection actually means is flat lighting, a plastic-y look, and, worst of all, a strange sped-up effect that makes perfectly normal actions—say, Martin Freeman's Bilbo Baggins placing a napkin on his lap—look like meth-head hallucinations. Jackson seems enamored of 48 fps, but I can't imagine why. To me, it turned the film into a 166-minute long projectionist's error. I wanted to ask the projectionist to double-check the equipment, but really, I should just ask Jackson why he wanted his $270 million blockbuster to look like a TV movie.

That's not the only challenge faced by The Hobbit, Jackson's adaptation of J.R.R. Tolkien's 1937 novel of fantasy and adventure. It's the problem of prequels. Like what George Lucas bore when he returned to Star Wars for The Phantom Menace, the audience, the expectations and filmmaking itself have matured but the storytelling is more juvenile.

And where the Rings trilogy had weight, The Hobbit is all wigs and slapstick and head-lopping violence unsuitable for children—who are the only audience who won't be bored to tears.
- When people run, they look like they are on the ‘Benny Hill Show.’

- Fire looks weird. This doesn’t matter too much when it is just a burning hearth, but when it is dragonbreath or hurled, flaming weapons, it is a problem. As a result, a moment that should read as triumph ultimately comes across as goofy. It looks so strange and unusual (as do many of the special effects) that it looks somewhat. . .cheap.

- Anything shot in daylight looks like a BBC production from the 1970s. The movement is too smooth. And yet, when the camera movies, too, it looks somewhat jerky.

People interested in tech should see ‘An Unexpected Journey’ in 48fps (which is being marketing as HFR 3D). People just looking to see a great movie should just see it in 24. Of course, anyone looking for a great movie will be disappointed. ‘The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey,’ despite its many gimmicks, is just an okay movie.
Throughout the entire film, there was a strange Benny Hill quality to sequences, with things that appeared to be sped up. It happened in both dialogue and action sequences, and the overall effect was like watching the most beautifully mastered Blu-ray ever played at 1.5x speed. It doesn't make any sense to me that this process, which is supposedly all about clarity and resolution, would create that hyper-speedy quality unless they were doing something wrong in the projection of it. Peter Jackson would see this immediately. The voices are off-pitch, and the pacing of scenes goes to hell when it's played this way.

There are several returning artists on the film, like Ian McKellen and Howard Shore and Andrew Lesnie, whose work is every bit as good as it was before, and I think for the most part, "Lord Of The Rings" fans are going to feel like this is a welcome return to MIddle Earth. But there are enough uneven qualities this time around that i find myself astonished by the letter grade (B) I'm assigning the film. My hope is that the three films taken together will work better than this one does on its own, and that the pacing issues are not going to be ongoing as the series continues.
“Again and again” is also the film’s biggest issue. On a consistent basis, it’s almost as if Jackson forgets he has two more films to release and is forced to pump the brakes. Tangents pop out of nowhere, dialogue scenes are stretched into infinity, and a familiar structure of capture followed by rousing escape, is consistently repeated. Much of the film feels like it’s purposely attempting to stall the dwarves’ quest from progressing.

Overall The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey is a lot of fun. Fans of Jackson, Tolkien and the Lord of the Rings films will enjoy it. However, it’s long and uneven, which keeps it from reaching the heights of Jackson’s first three Middle-Earth films.
As for the movie's "real" characters, this is Freeman, McKellen, and Armitage's show and they don't disappoint. Freeman is wonderful as Bilbo, even if he can't quite single-handedly out-charm the original trilogy's Fab Four of hobbits. Still, Freeman brings a warmth, wit, and, well, a humanity to the whole affair. McKellen is as regal and coy as ever as Gandalf, while Armitage adeptly captures the bitterness and drive of the rather cold fish that is Thorin, portrayed here as much younger than he's traditionally been depicted.

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey almost attains greatness yet despite so many moments of epic fun, greatness remains just out of its reach. This is a very good and entertaining movie even if it never quite recaptures the wonder or mystique of the Lord of the Rings trilogy. Flaws and all, though, it was just nice to be back in Middle-earth again.
At almost three hours, Peter Jackson’s fourth foray into the world of J.R.R. Tolkien, “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey,” is initially worrisome and typically self-indulgent. An extremely jarring 48 fps look -- which looks like an odd "Masterpiece Theater" in HD -- is unsettling and the opening is slow-going and tepidly genteel, taking its time with two prologues, one that includes an aged Bilbo Baggins (Ian Holmes) and Frodo Baggins (Elijah Wood). And while “The Lord Of The Rings” films always sported a jovial and light-hearted tone, 'The Hobbit' (set some 60 years before the events of ‘LOTR’) ratchets up the goofiness to a near unfortunate level (yes, the source material is more of a kids' book, but even this is a little much).

While it will be too formulaic and familiar to some (and certainly non-fans won’t be won over), 'The Hobbit' is another grand achievement from director Peter Jackson. While this distended picture threatens to buckle under the weight of its own self-importantance, Peter Jackson clearly believes he’s earned the right to preamble and make nearly three hour long tent poles each time out of the gate. And the last two acts of 'The Hobbit' are simply a non-stop action-adventure rollercoaster that is just as engaging and winning as anything in the director’s previous trilogy.
Spending nearly three hours of screen time to visually represent every comma, period and semicolon in the first six chapters of the perennially popular 19-chapter book, Jackson and his colleagues have created a purist's delight, something the millions of die-hard fans of his Lord of the Rings trilogy will gorge upon. In pure movie terms, however, it's also a bit of a slog, with an inordinate amount of exposition and lack of strong forward movement.

It takes Jackson a long time to build up a head of steam, but he delivers the goods in this final stretch, which is paralleled by the hitherto ineffectual Bilbo beginning to come into his own as a character. One of Tolkien's shrewdest strategies in writing The Hobbit and designing it to appeal to both youngsters and adults over the decades was making Bilbo a childlike grown-up who matures and assumes responsibilities he initially perceives are beyond him. Freeman, who at first seems bland in the role, similarly grows into the part, giving hope that the character will continue to blossom in the two forthcoming installments.
The greatest achievement of The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, is how well it ties in with the Lord of the Rings trilogy, much better than, say, the original Star Wars films and their prequels, which are widely-considered to be inferior. As we recently discussed in our Star Wars podcast, watching the films in episode order is not only visually jarring, it ruins the dramatic tension of the whole arc. At first blush, The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey appears to avoid this pitfall. The film is set up in such a way that new viewers are briefly introduced to Bilbo and Frodo, but regard them only as an old storyteller and his nephew, nothing more.

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey has set a high bar for the next two installments, but if the Lord of the Rings trilogy is any indication, I fully believe that bar will be surpassed. Moving forward, I’d like to see the films become a bit more serious, especially since Bilbo is now in possession of a certain ring and all the grave consequences that portends. It would also be a more gradual transition into the Lord of the Rings trilogy and would allow new fans to mature along with the entire six-film arc, much like the Harry Potter films so expertly achieved.

The Hobbit is an upcoming two-part epic fantasy film directed by Peter Jackson. It is a film adaptation of the 1937 novel of the same name by J. R. R. Tolkien and prequel to The Lord of the Rings film trilogy. Jackson, director of The Lord of the Rings, returns as director of the film and also serves as producer and co-writer. The film will star Martin Freeman as Bilbo Baggins and Richard Armitage, known for playing Lucas North in the BBC drama series Spooks, as Thorin Oakenshield. Several actors from Jackson's The Lord of the Rings film trilogy will reprise their roles, including Ian McKellen, Andy Serkis, Hugo Weaving, Cate Blanchett, Christopher Lee, Ian Holm, Elijah Wood, and Orlando Bloom. Additionally, composer Howard Shore, who wrote the score for The Lord of the Rings film trilogy, has confirmed his role in both parts of the film project. The two parts, entitled The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey and The Hobbit: There and Back Again, are being filmed back to back and are currently in production in New Zealand; principal photography began on March 21, 2011. They are scheduled to be released on December 14, 2012 and December 13, 2013, respectively.

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DocHorrible - 12/3/2012, 10:22 PM
Whoa, not what I expected at all. Still going to see this film, though.
ToTheManInTheColdSweat - 12/3/2012, 10:22 PM
That's one too many Benny Hill references for my comfort. So what's it gonna be 80/90 RT. Fingers crossed
DCKfilms - 12/3/2012, 10:24 PM
Sad news from critics... Oh... I will still watch despite critics, as the audience are people who truely matter.
mk - 12/3/2012, 10:27 PM
mids 80s on RT prolly
Rowsdower - 12/3/2012, 10:28 PM
AmazingFantasy - 12/3/2012, 10:31 PM
Critics can go shove shit up there arses, never [frick] with the guy who made LOTR.

Pretentious shitheads. Hobbit will rule.
jbak368 - 12/3/2012, 10:35 PM
I've already got tickets for the HFR version... hope I don't regret not going with IMAX.
rockerdude22 - 12/3/2012, 10:38 PM
I always say that you should always form your own opinion on a film, no matter how low or high critics rate it. The only thing that matters is what you think of it.

I've waited a while for this movie, so I'm gonna watch it and form my own opinion!
NorseGod - 12/3/2012, 10:39 PM
I think people's expectations are too high. It's supposed to be light-hearted. I think collider said it best that as the trilogy goes on we will see it mature to catch up to where the lord of the rings starts off in tone. And of course you shouldn't see it in high-frame rate! I thought that was a given! I don't know anyone who actually likes that look.
NostalgicYouth - 12/3/2012, 10:41 PM
Well I'll just have to see for myself
Sanderman - 12/3/2012, 10:44 PM
i had a feeling this movie was gonna be a disappointment. sounds like the 48 fps backfired on them but i'll still give it a watch before i judge it anymore
titansupes - 12/3/2012, 10:46 PM
I loved, loved, LOVED the first two LOTR's when then came out. HATED the third. HATED King Kong. With those two Jackson suddenly switched to melodrama, pretentious, self-indulgance. Movies that have no where near enough ideas to justify there run time, no subtlety for whatever hamfisted ideas it did have.

My love of the first two LOTR's makes me wish this movie will suprise the hell out of me...the side that saw ROTK and King Kong is sure it will be bad. The sides are cancelling eachother out to create this profound indifference.

When I see it, though, I'm seeing it in 24 frames, so hopefully that will get rid of one negative aspect right out of the gate.
jbak368 - 12/3/2012, 10:47 PM
Part of what the 48 fps is supposed to do is help blend the effects better and improve the 3D, and the full Hitfix review says that, while it does seem oddly sped up, it does accomplish those goals.
jbak368 - 12/3/2012, 10:55 PM
And Beaks over on AICN says that he just felt like they didn't have all the kinks worked out yet. He says the 48 fps swings between looking amazing and looking like shit throughout the film. I'm just interested in seeing it in a new kind of format. If I'm not satisfied I can always go see it again, if the movie itself is worth it, and quotes like this one from the aforementioned review give me some hope that the HFR experience will prove worthwhile if not satisfying:

"The first true jaw-dropper of a set piece arrives when Bilbo and company find themselves caught in the middle of a boulder-chucking brawl between a few Stone Giants. Though the sequence does nothing to move the story along, it at least brings the literal sturm-und-drang that the film has been lacking. I have no idea how it plays in 24fps, but in HFR 3D, it looks like real freakin' mountains going all WAR OF THE GARGANTUAS on each other. I hesitate to say it's worth the heightened ticket price, but I'm certainly glad I saw this sequence in its intended format."
myparentsaredead - 12/3/2012, 10:55 PM
Let's be honest: the only real complain everyone has is in regards to the 48 FPS. Note to self: avoid 48 FPS like the plague.
mawilli4 - 12/3/2012, 10:57 PM
[frick] critics. i'll judge it for myself. obviously from the first review, they haven't read the books. i always thought the Hobbit was more juvenile than LotR.
TheFox - 12/3/2012, 11:03 PM
Looking at the comments on this article, it sounds like the critics are pretty much right: non-fans will remain unconvinced, diehards will be effusive in their praise, and the world will just keep on turning.

I just hope that Jackson and Jim Cameron come to their goddamn senses about this 48 fps bullshit. Sharper image clarity at the cost of mood and smooth movement is an absurd trade-off; if it doesn't enhance the STORY, you don't need to do it.

CoulsonLives - 12/3/2012, 11:05 PM
Remember... The Hobbit book is originally for Tolken's Grandchildren... It is light hearted at first.. Then gets Exciting!
AsianVersionOfET - 12/3/2012, 11:07 PM
I expected this. Nothing about the trailers gets me even remotely excited for this film. And now these reviews have reassured me that I may just wait for blu-ray.
DrRockso - 12/3/2012, 11:23 PM
Being that I'm a meth-head, it should look quite normal to me
hueyfreeman - 12/3/2012, 11:29 PM
JerBear - 12/3/2012, 11:43 PM
As a reader of the book, I can guarantee that all the complaints the critics had won't bother me at all. The Hobbit is just a different story than LOTR.
CoulsonLives - 12/3/2012, 11:50 PM
Do these people even read the Hobbit?
ahhmynuts - 12/3/2012, 11:52 PM
i just know now im gonna see this movie high as fudge
CharacterAssassin - 12/4/2012, 12:20 AM
Critic Reviews vs. Fanboy Reviews.... hmmm... who should we trust.
GetsugaTensho22 - 12/4/2012, 12:25 AM
Face it you hypocritical twats, if this movie got blazing reviews, all of you would be eating out of the Critics's hands. You're only going "Grapes are sour" by saying they don't matter.
Kayo - 12/4/2012, 12:31 AM
excellent reviews or not, i'm gonna be there with my 3D glass.
bhorwith22 - 12/4/2012, 12:39 AM
A 'meth-head hallucination', huh? Like it or not, it is an indisputable and measurable FACT that 48fps is closer to real life than 24fps. People said the same thing when color debuted, and 3D (although it still has a little ways to go) and they will do the same when 4K and 8K UltraHD significantly increase the percentage of the color spectrum that is displayed. These are the people that hinder progress.
bhorwith22 - 12/4/2012, 12:43 AM
My dream movie would (somehow) be filmed natively in 3D at 60fps (or more in the future) and at IMAX resolutions in Dolby Atmos (60 something channels?)
Unfortunately, we do not possess the technology to do all of those natively at the same time.
Alaba - 12/4/2012, 12:51 AM
The critics have just told me how great this movie is. Can't wait :)
titansupes - 12/4/2012, 1:24 AM

Oh, I'm well aware of how they were made. But each movie, like the Star Wars OT, like The Dark Knight Trilogy and even The Matrix Trilogy had a consistent but distinctly different feel from movie to movie. And it's as if Jackson, whenever writing or directing scenes for the third movie, just said it needs to be all of that stuff I said "Slow motion and people constantly crying will be draaaama"...Not really, it's melodrama. I didn't know I hated the movie hate first, but I knew I was definately disappointed. Then King Kong came out and well...Ugh. Wretched. It gives me no pleasure, hating those movies, because as I said, I LOVED the first two.
marvel72 - 12/4/2012, 1:26 AM
i still want to see no matter what the reviews say.
yourdaddy - 12/4/2012, 1:47 AM
48fps is crap.

just admit it already you fanboys. i love lotr as much as the next guy. and you could go into technicalities all you want, at the end of the day, 48fps looks stupid and was a misstep on jackson's part.

it's not too late though for this series.

the pacing issues for the next two, and maybe even a bit for this one till it comes out in a couple of weeks, can be fixed in editing. and all jackson has to do after that is avoid 48fps like the plague.
pro346 - 12/4/2012, 1:49 AM
@Soto we still don't believe you....who cares what critics think! They wouldn't know a good movie if they watched one.
charlie2094 - 12/4/2012, 2:23 AM
@ SotoJuiceMan

"Woo look at me, I said a film would be bad (which these reviews don't say it is) after watching a trailer!!! HA! In your face everyone looking forward to it!!!" Are you seriously proud of that? Bit sad.

Err its at 82% and climbing on Rotten tomatoes. It's not a bad movie, most of these excerpts alone say its's a good movie with some flaws. Many, like IGN's, say just short of the greatness of the original trilogy.
So, no one was right to believe you, but I guess you'll just cling to the "problems and flaws" it has because you guessed it would be bad. Maybe go see it with an open mind and you might actually enjoy.
siggisuperman - 12/4/2012, 2:51 AM
Everytime this happens i get this feeling that all the critics met for a beer somewhere and the Alpha critic told the other guys what he thought and then they all just copy it.
TYLERWINN - 12/4/2012, 2:58 AM
Please don't compare that homoerotic crapfest that is Harry Potter to LOTR. Thank you
calin88 - 12/4/2012, 3:00 AM
who the (frick) cares about some opinions, go watch the movie and decide for yourselves if it's good or not
NorseGod - 12/4/2012, 3:02 AM
@batfan there are some positive reviews in there, go back and read them again. Also, many of the reviews mention both positive and negative aspects of the movie, and the main negative connective tissue between them is the frame rate. So don't act like people here are just looking to hate on or defend from hate on a greatly anticipated movie. There are of course the usual vocal pessimists on this site, but the majority of users here are happy about these types of movies.
INFO - 12/4/2012, 3:38 AM
Oh NO i feel so ticked off but i guess the apple fell far from the tree with the critics this time and is not as amazing as LOTR wish for the best.
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