Tomatometer Watch: The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey
"It really does seem like fate that Jackson would be the filmmaker who ended up making the films, since I can't imagine what they would have looked like shot anywhere besides New Zealand. The way they blend the real and the unreal is seamless at this point, and there are some remarkable images in the film, some remarkable places." (Drew McWeeny, Hitfix)
Praise is given to how the universe has been brought back to life, the trip this time more leisurely, less packed with plot and, like before, without pretension. It's about coming back to a place of fond memories after a long time away.
"Like Bilbo reflecting on his long path from The Shire and what it means to fight for a place to call your own, returning to Middle Earth feels right. And if it doesn't quite soar as high in transformative joy or ecstasy as we thought it might... it's still home." (Shawn Adler, Movieline)
But for detractors, the scope of the film weighs heavily. Passages that were mere sentences in the books are blown up to entire scenes, stretching out an already light story. And making three films instead of two has drawn comparisons to another prequel trilogy.
"Is An Unexpected Journey better than The Phantom Menace? Easily, yes - it would take a real effort to make it worse - though the appearance of the wizard Radagast, a flight Dr. Dolittle, has stirred the unhappy memory of Jar Jar Binks." (Richard Corliss, TIME Magazine)
Top Critics particularly are left unimpressed, with only one of five stamping down a fresh rating. Jackson opting to shoot in 48 frames has also been an issue.
"Instead of feeling like we've been transported to Middle-earth, it's as if we've dropped in on Jackson's New Zealand set, trapped in an endless 'making of' documentary, waiting for the real movie to start," states Scott Foundas of Village Voice.
"For the record, I returned to see The Hobbit a second time, at 24 frames, and found it more aesthetically pleasing but no more dramatically engaging. At any speed, the movie only springs to full life late in the day, during the first meeting of Bilbo and the tragic creature who will come to be known as Gollum."
Audiences remain unfazed in the face of less than perfect reception, with 95% of over 145,000 site users anticipating release. How much are you looking forward to The Hobbit? Does your anticipation remain unswayed?
The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey. is in theaters worldwide next week.