That’s Odd: The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey Kinda Sucks

Posted by on December 13, 2012 at 10:09 pm
The Hobbit Abercrombie & Fitch Calendar Collection

The Dwarven Abercrombie & Fitch Calendar

Okay guys, I’m not a big fantasy buff. Yeah, I’m a super nerd, sure, but Lord of the Rings was simply never fascinating. I was a Fallout kid, not a child of D&D. I liked Star Wars, but not The Hobbit. Snooze. Despite my disposition though, I really enjoyed Peter Jackson’s films (and could, as a once-future animator, enjoy Ralph Bakshi’s version), but only in a well, I never need to see these again sorta way. It’s been nine years and after some legal issues/politicking at New Line Cinema, Peter Jackson has finally brought us The Hobbit, except instead of taking a brief approach to a brief book, they decided to expand it to an entirely new trilogy. Early reviews have not been kind on the new film (which holds a 69% at Rotten Tomatoes, nearly 30 points lower than any of the Lord of the Rings films) and I imagine the sequels are going to have an even harder time when they release next year and in 2014. What is the industry saying? Well…

Bryan Bishop at The Verge wrote:

Should you go see it? With films of this caliber that question is almost moot. It’s Peter Jackson and it’s The Hobbit; of course you should see it. It’s best to walk in with tempered expectations, however; this is more Transformers than The Two Towers.

On being shot at 48 frames per second, their report was just as disappointing.

Rather than the majestic grandeur presented in the first films, the new entry looks more like a Renaissance Faire recreation shot on your brother’s mini-DV camera. It’s most jarring in the movie’s opening, where we briefly visit Frodo and Bilbo in the moments leading up to Fellowship; we know what these characters in that world should look like, and it simply feels wrong.

Grantland was also unimpressed.

It’s not very good, this new Hobbit. It’s a two-hour-and-fifty-minute movie that feels like it lasts for five or six years. Jackson pioneered a new technique in filming the movie, shooting at 48 frames per second, twice the usual speed, which lends an unwanted, disorienting clarity to the proceedings. Much of the film looks like a video-game cut scene; or, more accurately, a movie set on which actors are acting, since you can see with terrible precision the costumes and the makeup and wigs and the fake rocks.

The San Francisco Chronicle was likewise baffled.

First came the original trilogy, a popular success and critically acclaimed. Then, some years later, a second trilogy began, a prequel to the original, and the first installment of this second trilogy turned out to be awful. We saw this pattern play out once, with “Star Wars,” and now, alas, it begins again, with “The Hobbit,” a movie that is exactly one Jar Jar Binks away from being as bad as “The Phantom Menace.”

CNN wrote:

…with “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey,” the first in a trilogy adapted from J.R.R. Tolkien’s first novel, Peter Jackson has taken a different approach: He’s gone two steps forward and three steps back.

In the process he’s undoubtedly made himself a whole lot richer. “The Hobbit” is dominating screen space across the globe this weekend, and will certainly be among the biggest moneymakers of the year. But he’s also jeopardized the legacy of his own “Lord of the Rings.”

The New York Times was uninspired by the overly-developed visuals.

But I don’t mean to blame the cultural situation for the specific failings of the movie, which rises to weary, belated mediocrity entirely on its own steam. Mr. Jackson has embraced what might be called theme-park-ride cinema, the default style of commercially anxious, creatively impoverished 3-D moviemaking. The action sequences are exercises in empty, hectic kineticism, with very little sense of peril or surprise. Characters go hurtling down chutes and crumbling mountainsides or else exert themselves in chaotic battles with masses of roaring, rampaging pixels.

It’s not all sad, though. Forbes enjoyed it.

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, the first in a series of three films by director Peter Jackson, is almost three hours long. I know this, because when the credits rolled, I noticed my bladder was screaming. But I didn’t realize it before then, because for two hours and forty-nine minutes, I was swept up in the world of Middle Earth. The movie sped by.

We haven’t had an opportunity to see it yet, but rest assured that we’ll have a verdict soon. I can say that I had to be figuratively dragged to see the Lord of the Rings films in theaters. They’d have to literally drag me to see The Hobbit at this point.

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