Reviewers are finally getting to see The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey—and the reviews are passionate, but mixed. So we've pulled together 14 quotes, seven positive, seven negative, to give you an idea of what you're in for come Friday.
The first installment of the Hobbit, An Unexpected Journey, is the first time Peter Jackson has ventured into the world of Tolkien in nearly a decade. When he made The Lord of the Rings trilogy, three-hour length movies became somewhat commonplace for a while and fantasy films reached the height of popularity.
How much have things changed, though? Do people still long for a fantasy epic? Is the Hobbit the right choice for a trilogy of three-hour films? And what about that new 48-frames-per-second business?
Let's see if these reviewers can't help shed some light on our queries, shall we?
Let's take a look at the good first and then move on to the not-so-good.
"If Cameron's Avatar was like looking through a window at a fantastical landscape, An Unexpected Journey at 48 frames is like removing the glass so you can step on through."
David Germain—Associated Press
"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."
Todd McCarthy—The Hollywood Reporter
"By the time Bilbo makes his initial encounter with the poor, gray-skinned Gollum (Andy Serkis), The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey has sunk its hooks in deep. I was dreading having to go back into this universe—weren't the previous 11 hours of Tolkien movies enough?—but this film feels lighter, more agreeable and although simpler, more sheer fun."
Rene Rodriguez—Miami Herald
"Jackson's eccentric mixture of low humor, earnest foreboding and digitally processed pageantry is consistently engaging and immersive. Plus, the higher-than-hi-def visuals (sure to be divisive) are fascinating for how they blur the line between spectator and spectacle; it's an idiosyncratic move that gives this bulky blockbuster a defiantly personal edge."
Keith Uhlich—Time Out
"Scene after scene, it's obvious Jackson decided what he thought would be an awesome way for the action to proceed and to look, and then just figured out how to make that happen, no matter how crazy or complicated it might be."
Mark Hughes — Forbes
"There can be no doubt that Jackson has made The Hobbit with brio and fun, and Martin Freeman is just right as Bilbo Baggins: he plays it with understatement and charm."
Peter Bradshaw — The Guardian
"It's all been deftly woven together, though, both staying true to the slightly gentler nature of this adventure while foreshadowing the epic to come. And in director Peter Jackson's hands, the 3D becomes a huge plus—as in the goblin's underground world, where the screen turns into a hellish snakes-and-ladders chase unfolding on several levels at once."
Stephen Whitty—The Newark Star-Ledger
"In editing a film, a director has to kill some of his darling scenes, for the duty and glory of entertaining a hundred million children and adults. Watching this plus-size Hobbit, viewers have to do their own editing: savoring the strong scenes, napping through the weak ones.."
"More disconcerting is the introduction of the film's 48-frames-per-second digital cinematography, which solves the inherent stuttering effect of celluloid that occurs whenever a camera pans or horizontal movement crosses the frame—but at too great a cost. Consequently, everything takes on an overblown, artificial quality in which the phoniness of the sets and costumes becomes obvious, while well-lit areas bleed into their surroundings, like watching a high-end homemovie."
"This might be one venture where, rather than DVDs offering an "Expanded Director's Version," there might be an appetite for a "Condensed Director's Cut" in a single normal-length film."
Todd McCarthy—Hollywood Reporter
"The first part of Peter Jackson's The Hobbit—a three-part screen adaptation—is subtitled An Unexpected Journey, though that does little justice to the result. Had Jackson been more accurate, he would have called it Not Quite There Yet, or Still Some Way to Go."
Anthony Lane—The New Yorker
[The Lord of the Rings movies] were generous entertainments that you didn't have to be a Tolkien convert to enjoy—they made one out of you. The Hobbit, by contrast, feels distinctly like a members-only affair. It's self-conscious monument art, but is the monument to Tolkien or to Jackson himself?
RIchard Corliss—The Village Voice
"The duel with Gollum, set in a cave, is like a one-act play, and makes me think this technology would work for, say, filmed theater and opera, where the uncanny presence of the performers would be something to treasure and the artificiality wouldn't matter. Meanwhile, we have the prospect of two more Hobbit pictures, which are sure to be less exciting than discussions of pixel resolution, scan lines, and refresh rates."
David Edelstein—New York
"Like all unexpected journeys, there are a few pitfalls along the way, most notably the tangential subplot surrounding bumbling wizard Radagast the Brown (Sylvester McCoy), whose buffoonery at times descends into Jar Jar Binks territory."
Ethan Sacks—The New York Daily News