Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Unexpected: 'The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey' sees mixed reviews

"The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey" has officially premiered in New Zealand (Nov. 28), to much fanfare with 100,000 people attending. It has its U.S. premiere on Thursday, Dec. 6, and the reviews are in, and surprisingly mixed.

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The spectacle is there -- in other words, the special effects and majestic score -- but by expanding the movie series to a trilogy, it's possible that director Peter Jackson somewhat bloated the series. That is at least some of the criticism being heaped on the film, although critics are mostly universal in their praise Martin Freeman (Bilbo Baggins) and Andy Serkis (reprising his "Lord of the Rings" trilogy role as Gollum.

Note: the film's running time of 174 minutes; the end credits alone are 16 minutes long. "The Hobbit" was not a trilogy of books, but one novel, unlike the "Lord of the Rings" trilogy of novels.

Among the critical non-acclaim (and acclaim) for the film are the following:

Todd McCarthy, The Hollywood Reporter:
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.
Katey Rich, CinemaBlend:
Unless your dreams are populated by denizens of Middle Earth, endless footage of them simply talking or walking is a lot less spectacular than Peter Jackson thinks it is. ... Martin Freeman is a nicely flustered and quick-witted presence; it takes a while for Bilbo to embrace his call to adventure, but by the time he does, he feels like a guy worth following for two more movies.
Peter Debruge, Variety:
The Hobbit" alternately rewards and abuses [audience] appetite for all things Middle-earth. While Peter Jackson's prequel to "The Lord of the Rings" delivers more of what made his earlier trilogy so compelling -- colorful characters on an epic quest amid stunning New Zealand scenery -- it doesn't offer nearly enough novelty to justify the three-film, nine-hour treatment, at least on the basis of this overlong first installment.
Tim Grierson, Screen Daily
The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey recaptures much of the epic spectacle of the filmmaker’s massively successful Lord Of The Rings trilogy, smoothly setting in motion another large-scale adventure that will be carried forward in two subsequent films over the next two years. Boasting an appreciably dark tone and a seemingly endless array of visual astonishments, this Hobbit suggests that, nine years removed from his last J.R.R. Tolkien adaptation, Jackson has lost none of his ability to deliver this sort of brawny mainstream entertainment, even if a bit of déjà vu hovers over the proceedings.
James Rocchi, Box Office:
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.
Edward Douglas, ComingSoon.net:
An Unexpected Journey may as well be The Phantom Menace and God help us all if the next two movies aren't better than this one.
Rotten Tomatoes has a 71 percent rating for the film, and audience expectations are still high: 95 percent want to see the film.

No matter the mixed reviews, "The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey" will be a blockbuster. The key will be to see if it fades after week one. Don't forget, as well,that the first nine minutes of "Star Trek Into Darkness" will be shown before IMAX 3D versions of "The Hobbit," while a standard trailer will be shown at other showings.

We also expect that, no matter what, Stephen Colbert will be proud of his still-unconfirmed cameo in the film.

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