The first review of Peter Jackson's The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey has hit the Web, and it's generally positive—except for one thing.
The Hobbit had its world premiere in Wellington, New Zealand, on Wednesday (Nov. 27), and while critics in New York and Los Angeles are embargoed from publishing reviews until next week, a fellow named Ethan Sacks at the New York Daily News has seen it and offered up his thoughts on the highly anticipated first chapter in Jackson's new trilogy.
Sacks describes The Hobbit as "lighter and funnier than its Lord of the Rings predecessors," adding that it "remains faithful to the fantasy world last seen in the 2003 Academy Award-winning The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King."
He also goes into some detail about the controversial 48-frames-per-second (also known as HFR, or high frame rate) format in which Jackson shot the film, and in which it will be projected in around 400 theaters when it opens in the U.S. on Dec. 14.
The format is twice as fast as normal, 24-frame-per-second film, and is said to provide awe-inspiring clarity and depth to the image. However, a screening of 10 minutes of 48fps footage earlier this year at the CinemaCon exhibition in Las Vegas left both critics and theater owners less than enthused, with some saying it looked too much like video.
According to Sacks, "After a minute or two of adjusting, the higher resolution is eye-popping, similar to discovering HD television for the first time."
Although he does not go much more into depth about the movie, the reporter did offer up one criticism—but because of what it invokes, it's a nasty one: "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."
Yes, Sacks said the name that cannot be spoken. All we can hope is that Radagast is not around for much of the movie's 160-minute running time.
More reviews are likely to surface in the next week or two before The Hobbit opens, but what do you make of this first glimpse?