Peter Jackson’s The Hobbit (78% on Rotten Tomatoes right now) is one of the most anticipated movies of the season. It’s his 48fps followup to those Lord of the Rings movies that everybody loves for some inexplicable reason even though they were far too long and tedious. Hey, apparently just like The Hobbit. Who would have guessed. Since they don’t invite me to press screenings for these movies, I did the next best thing and put together reviews from other people.
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. But based on its maker, source and gigantic promotional campaign, this first section to the long-awaited prequel to Rings will no doubt mine equivalent amounts of box-office gold, as will its follow-ups next year and the year after that. Todd McCarthey, Hollywood Reporter
Okay, we got it, it’s tedious but what about the story?
It quickly becomes apparent how hard Jackson is trying to recreate the magic of “Fellowship of the Ring” by using many of the familiar elements and an identical story structure. Over the course of their journey, the group face more orcs and goblins and trolls we saw in the “Lord of the Rings” movies with many of the beats being almost identical. The only creatures that really stand as being original to this movie are a trio of mountain-sized storm giants, and over the course of two hours, Bilbo tends to fade into the background, lost in the mass of dwarves. Edward Douglas, ComingSoon
So pretty much put the story on the back burner and let’s look at the pretty visuals.
There’s a sense throughout “An Unexpected Journey” that Jackson has transitioned out of a conventional filmmaking role and instead become New Zealand’s resident Willy Wonka, the skillful proprietor of a wondrous Hobbit factory the country can call its own. (A recent article in The New York Times documents Prime Minister John Key’s eagerness to pal around with Jackson and invest more of New Zealand’s resources in “Hobbit”-related tourism.) The lush green hills, often captured by a roaming virtual camera, stand out more than individual performances or various plot twists. Eric Kohn, Indiewire
What I’m getting so far is that this movie would be nice to nap to.
The film was also screened for press in Jackson’s new toy, 48 frames per second, which gave the entire production a strange tangibility, like of that of a BBC TV show or uncalibrated HDTV. In the dialogue scenes, it put the audience in the room with the actors, even making the CG characters look more real. Only in the film’s swiftest action moments was there blur. An interesting experiment that mostly works, but perhaps a tad distracting for those who want to sit back and lose themselves in Middle Earth. Matt Patches, Hollywood.com
That’s a nice way of saying 48fps in general does not work.
Overall, The Hobbit is not a poorly-made movie – in fact, quite the opposite. But it’s a two-hour story in a two-hour-and-forty-minute story’s body, and anyone who’s not consumed copious amounts of Tolkien kool-aid seems likely to question why they’re watching so much story that seems so unimportant, and for so long. Todd Gilchrist, Celebuzz
So, once again, exactly how Lord of the Rings felt. Makes sense since this is Peter Jackson. Is the third one going to make me sit through 10 different endings too? Because I can just shoot myself now.
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