Tomatometer Watch: The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey

64%

Much has occurred since the announcement of a Hobbit adaptation up to its theatrical release next Friday, an unexpected journey of expanding movies (from two to three), abandonment (Guillermo del Toro, who spent two years on the project before jetting for the Pacific Rim), and the return of an old wise friend in the director's chair: Peter Jackson.

Nearly a decade earlier, Jackson had done the unthinkable and filmed J.R.R. Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings, a trilogy as beloved as it is sprawling and mythic. The "unfilmable" work proved anything but for Jackson, our Middle-earth tour guide of unstoppable zeal, aided by his wonderful cast. Box office returns and 30 Oscar nominations (including Best Picture win for The Return of the King) confirmed his daring vision to be true.

And now Jackson returns with his presentation of a story set 60 years before the Tolkien legend, The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey.
The early critical returns for The Hobbit, however, are disappointing for moviegoers wishing for the same numbers as the LotR trilogy. Each of those films were Certified Fresh, none dipping below 90%. The Hobbit is still within striking distance of hitting Certified Fresh (details of the award here), but will have to work for it. Elevation into the mid-80s Tomatometer range seems highly unlikely at this point, but Jackson has weaved strange magic before.

"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.

Comments

Bryan Jensen

Bryan Jensen

Remove any review where the reviewer complained more about the frame rate than the movie. Then see what the tomatometer is.

Dec 7 - 03:00 PM

Pawan Solanki

Pawan Solanki

agreed!

Dec 7 - 03:09 PM

All-Knowing Panda

The Panda

I'll agree with that, the frame rate is not a legitimate critique.

Dec 7 - 03:17 PM

Xavier Shorten

Xavier Shorten

Yep, also agree.

Dec 7 - 03:31 PM

Josiah Coulter

Josiah Coulter

I COMPLETELY AGREE. Frame rate has nothing to do with the film! It's not even being shown in 48 fps at most theaters! Go watch it in 24 fps if you don't like the 48. Jeez.

Dec 7 - 04:10 PM

Jon Davis

Jon Davis

Actually, it should. It is an esthetic chosen by the director to not only make this film, but to advertise for it. And if it looks as crumby as they say, then people have a right to know it. That's what reviews are for. That'd be like you saying a review shouldn't make mention of the 3D when speaking about Avatar.

Dec 7 - 04:45 PM

David Tanny

David Tanny

I agree with Jon here. The PJ encourages people try the 48 fps, so it SHOULD be a factor when the filmmaker intends it to be the definitive version of his film.

Dec 7 - 05:26 PM

Michael Lena

Michael Lena

I mean, of course it should be mentioned, and the review can say whether its good or bad... but it still shouldn't really factor into the score of the FILM.

Dec 9 - 06:39 PM

Taylor Mefford

Taylor Mefford

I also agree with Jon. He made a choice to shoot in 48 FPS and it should be a factor in how the movie is viewed. I for one, never liked the idea and don't think i'll see the 48 fps, or I may if I have the money to walk out in the middle of the presentation

Dec 7 - 05:32 PM

Gage Kent

Gage Kent

Agree with Jon on this one.

Dec 7 - 07:07 PM

-Cochise-

- Cochise -

I'm also on this bandwagon. 48fps is an artistic choice. Just because it has numbers in it, that doesn't mean that its some technical part that doesn't affect the aesthetics of the movie.

Dec 7 - 07:27 PM

Richard Giles

Richard Giles

I agree that they should critique it as a bad artistic choice made by Jackson if they don't like the high-frame rate, however, I think that because it is also available in 24 fps, the reviews should be based on the film's merits in the format they are most comfortable seeing it in. I'd like to see reviews on the actual movie, and not complaining about a format that they do not even have to watch the movie in.

Dec 8 - 02:45 AM

James Caughel

James Caughel

Though not necessary, just wanted to throw in my two cents. A friend of mine often makes the point that it is worthwhile to see the film the way the director wanted us to. If film was shot in (not retrofitted to) IMax or 3D, I have to trust that this is the medium they thought best suited their vision (this is, after all, why we like widescreen over full, right. Likewise, if Jackson took a whole lot of extra initiative to shoot in the high frame-rate, it communicates that this is the way he thinks the film is best experienced.

Dec 8 - 11:11 PM

Fred Brooks

Fred Brooks

Very good point Jon, i have to agree with you as well. You can't just take what's a big part of a film and all of a sudden act like it does'nt exist, it does'nt work that way. For me i can't judge the quality of the film until i see it, and that should go for everyone else as well. I will be in the theater like many come Dec 14 to see it.

Dec 9 - 12:32 AM

George v.

George vulcoun

I don't know anymore... normally I'd say shut your pie hole, 48 frames is better, live with it. I mean, it is smoother, better quality. But I guess there's something to be said for that "cinema" or "dreamy" feel. Like it's something other than reality. People want to escape not emulate life.

Dec 9 - 03:04 PM

Marissa E.

Marissa Evans

But in that case, you'd might as well be harping on Toy Story and Shrek for bad CGI. Do you judge Ten Commandments, Superman, or the 1933 version of King Kong for poor special effects? Of course not. The technology hasn't been perfected yet. But we like these films not for the medium by which the story's told, but for the story itself. As a highly-entertaining book, the Hobbit movie could be told in storyboard and I'd still give it a fresh rating. :)

Dec 9 - 04:03 PM

Raphael  R.

Raphael Ribeiro

So, the 24 fps version should have a different rating than the 48 fps

Dec 10 - 05:03 AM

Daniel Foster

Daniel Foster

agreed

Dec 8 - 08:17 AM

King  S.

King Simba

All the negative reviews I've read have had other things to complain about than just the frame rate.

Dec 8 - 10:44 AM

Ezra Tross

Ezra Tross

Critics complaining about the frame rate and stupid crap like that are probly the same critics who were leading the charge on the Avatar Bandwagon. I'll take substance over aesthetically pleasing any day

Dec 9 - 09:02 PM

Joe Hughey

Joe Hughey

I'm sorry, but the visuals make a huge part of the film, especially a film like this, and if the visuals are mediocre, the experience will be less enjoyable. Duh.

Dec 10 - 10:49 AM

Facebook User

Facebook User

I agree. The rating should reflect the movie not the format since most people will see it the traditional way.

Dec 10 - 08:59 PM

Miguel  .

Miguel Paredes

Delete any review who complained about the long of movie
i mean if you cant stand an almost 3 hour movie you have problems

Dec 7 - 03:08 PM

Owen Dittes

Owen Dittes

Especially if it's a prequel to the Lord of the Rings.

Dec 7 - 06:49 PM

King  S.

King Simba

The runtime does matter. It's the director's job to know what proper runtime he should give to the story he wants to tell. I've seen films that were over 3 hours long where I never once felt bored and there have been films that were half as long where I kept checking my watch. For example, since this is Peter Jackson we're talking about, I was never bothered by the runtime of the LOTR films because they needed it, but although I liked King Kong, I thought it would have been better if the story hadn't been needlessly stretched out to 3 hours.

Dec 8 - 10:52 AM

ballermat982

ballermat 982

LOL so many angry fanboys. If you look at the fresh reviews they are not exactly glowing reviews either. I mean has any critic given this movie a perfect score yet? TDKR had many perfect scores in the first batch of reviews and still got knocked down to 87%.

Dec 8 - 09:52 PM

Mikus Duncis

Mikus Duncis

Actually... no. It's a valid complaint, though, not so much about how long it is, but about how it feels long. That's a pacing issue and is a valid complaint for any movie, especially for one they felt the need to split up in so many parts. If you' re gonna have 3 movies, then that means you have enough material for 3 movies and none of them need to feel dragged out and have pacing problems.

Dec 10 - 10:38 AM

Robert Hume

Robert Hume

The run time is everything. Peter Jackson is out of control. Someone needs to strip his editing rights away. Less is more Peter, Less is more.

Dec 10 - 11:46 AM

Pawan Solanki

Pawan Solanki

agreed!

Dec 7 - 03:09 PM

All-Knowing Panda

The Panda

I'll agree with that, the frame rate is not a legitimate critique.

Dec 7 - 03:17 PM

Xavier Shorten

Xavier Shorten

Yep, also agree.

Dec 7 - 03:31 PM

Josiah Coulter

Josiah Coulter

I COMPLETELY AGREE. Frame rate has nothing to do with the film! It's not even being shown in 48 fps at most theaters! Go watch it in 24 fps if you don't like the 48. Jeez.

Dec 7 - 04:10 PM

Efrain S.

Efrain Sanchez

The Fellowship of the Ring has 18 rotten reviews(from 18 Rotten people with no imagination) and 205 fresh reviews and its at 92%. The Hobbit is still 8 rotten and 20 Fresh I'm hoping it will go up because there are still many reviews to come good and bad.

Dec 7 - 04:30 PM

Jaxx Raxor

Adam Jones

Well we are still a week away, but I can't see this film getting to 80% if we already have this many negative reviews early on. Generally the pattern is that (with the exceptional of poor scoring movies) that negative reviews tend to increase over the opening weekend rather than decrease. Remember that Twilight Breaking Dawn Part 2 started fairly high but by the time the weekend was over it plummeted back to how the series does typically (at least the better ones).

I think its clear that this movie, if not the whole trilogy, will bee inferior to the original Lord of the Rings Trilogy to some degree, and I think the troubled production is a big part of why it's not doing as well as many of us would like.

Dec 7 - 05:20 PM

Fred Brooks

Fred Brooks

Words spoken by a man who knows what he's talking about. I don't think 80% on RT is quite out the question just yet, but if it's at 72%-75% when it gets to 80-100 reviews than 80% will definantly be out the question.

Dec 9 - 12:39 AM

Jon Davis

Jon Davis

Actually, it should. It is an esthetic chosen by the director to not only make this film, but to advertise for it. And if it looks as crumby as they say, then people have a right to know it. That's what reviews are for. That'd be like you saying a review shouldn't make mention of the 3D when speaking about Avatar.

Dec 7 - 04:45 PM

David Tanny

David Tanny

I agree with Jon here. The PJ encourages people try the 48 fps, so it SHOULD be a factor when the filmmaker intends it to be the definitive version of his film.

Dec 7 - 05:26 PM

Michael Lena

Michael Lena

I mean, of course it should be mentioned, and the review can say whether its good or bad... but it still shouldn't really factor into the score of the FILM.

Dec 9 - 06:39 PM

Taylor Mefford

Taylor Mefford

I also agree with Jon. He made a choice to shoot in 48 FPS and it should be a factor in how the movie is viewed. I for one, never liked the idea and don't think i'll see the 48 fps, or I may if I have the money to walk out in the middle of the presentation

Dec 7 - 05:32 PM

Gage Kent

Gage Kent

Agree with Jon on this one.

Dec 7 - 07:07 PM

-Cochise-

- Cochise -

I'm also on this bandwagon. 48fps is an artistic choice. Just because it has numbers in it, that doesn't mean that its some technical part that doesn't affect the aesthetics of the movie.

Dec 7 - 07:27 PM

Richard Giles

Richard Giles

I agree that they should critique it as a bad artistic choice made by Jackson if they don't like the high-frame rate, however, I think that because it is also available in 24 fps, the reviews should be based on the film's merits in the format they are most comfortable seeing it in. I'd like to see reviews on the actual movie, and not complaining about a format that they do not even have to watch the movie in.

Dec 8 - 02:45 AM

James Caughel

James Caughel

Though not necessary, just wanted to throw in my two cents. A friend of mine often makes the point that it is worthwhile to see the film the way the director wanted us to. If film was shot in (not retrofitted to) IMax or 3D, I have to trust that this is the medium they thought best suited their vision (this is, after all, why we like widescreen over full, right. Likewise, if Jackson took a whole lot of extra initiative to shoot in the high frame-rate, it communicates that this is the way he thinks the film is best experienced.

Dec 8 - 11:11 PM

Fred Brooks

Fred Brooks

Very good point Jon, i have to agree with you as well. You can't just take what's a big part of a film and all of a sudden act like it does'nt exist, it does'nt work that way. For me i can't judge the quality of the film until i see it, and that should go for everyone else as well. I will be in the theater like many come Dec 14 to see it.

Dec 9 - 12:32 AM

George v.

George vulcoun

I don't know anymore... normally I'd say shut your pie hole, 48 frames is better, live with it. I mean, it is smoother, better quality. But I guess there's something to be said for that "cinema" or "dreamy" feel. Like it's something other than reality. People want to escape not emulate life.

Dec 9 - 03:04 PM

Marissa E.

Marissa Evans

But in that case, you'd might as well be harping on Toy Story and Shrek for bad CGI. Do you judge Ten Commandments, Superman, or the 1933 version of King Kong for poor special effects? Of course not. The technology hasn't been perfected yet. But we like these films not for the medium by which the story's told, but for the story itself. As a highly-entertaining book, the Hobbit movie could be told in storyboard and I'd still give it a fresh rating. :)

Dec 9 - 04:03 PM

Raphael  R.

Raphael Ribeiro

So, the 24 fps version should have a different rating than the 48 fps

Dec 10 - 05:03 AM

Andrew Targaryen

Andrew Targaryen

Are people really demanding that reviews be deleted for having opinions they disagree with? Sheesh, this community makes me angry.

Dec 7 - 05:12 PM

Andrew Lee

Andrew Lee

I agree. If we always manipulated and twisted data to show a one sided view, it would be arguably worthless as a review site; it would be another commercial and unreliable for people seeking real unbiased input. Anyone interested in seeing what happens when you remove data (dissent of 48fps) can do so on their own without removing the source data that the rest of us might use.

Dec 7 - 06:36 PM

Andrew Targaryen

Andrew Targaryen

Ah, someone who agrees *sigh of relief*

Dec 8 - 04:29 PM

Janson Jinnistan

Janson Jinnistan

I think this review should be removed for sheer idiocy - "Tolkien could invent names and languages, but he couldn't create a plot at gunpoint." - James Rocchi.

The problem with the Tomatometer, is that people see numbers and get confused, and then proceed to discuss a film like its a sports team, or like pundits discussing polls rather than issues.

Dec 9 - 10:41 AM

Dani Fenn-Wells

Dani Fenn-Wells

I totally agree! I'm from New Zealand and this country is really milking the hobbit. We do depend a lot on a big movie like this, so I'm a bit gutted about the reviews but everyone should be allowed to have an opinion.

Dec 10 - 12:28 PM

Michael Lena

Michael Lena

anticipation is unswayed. But why i noticed when it gets a "rotten" review it goes down about 3% and when it gets a "fresh" review it only goes up 1%. Why is this?

Dec 7 - 05:15 PM

Andrew Lee

Andrew Lee

Maybe because people would only tolerate seeing one bad movie for every three good ones, before they conclude the review site is unreliable?

Dec 7 - 06:40 PM

Jaxx Raxor

Adam Jones

Well we are still a week away, but I can't see this film getting to 80% if we already have this many negative reviews early on. Generally the pattern is that (with the exceptional of poor scoring movies) that negative reviews tend to increase over the opening weekend rather than decrease. Remember that Twilight Breaking Dawn Part 2 started fairly high but by the time the weekend was over it plummeted back to how the series does typically (at least the better ones).

I think its clear that this movie, if not the whole trilogy, will bee inferior to the original Lord of the Rings Trilogy to some degree, and I think the troubled production is a big part of why it's not doing as well as many of us would like.

Dec 7 - 05:20 PM

Fred Brooks

Fred Brooks

Words spoken by a man who knows what he's talking about. I don't think 80% on RT is quite out the question just yet, but if it's at 72%-75% when it gets to 80-100 reviews than 80% will definantly be out the question.

Dec 9 - 12:39 AM

David Tanny

David Tanny

Hey RT staff, there seems to be a loading issue with the Hobbit forum. Might wanna check that out.

Dec 7 - 05:20 PM

Lancol E.

Lancol Et

They disabled it because of fanboy retardation

Dec 8 - 06:02 AM

Joshua Henderson

Joshua Henderson

It's not just the forums. I have a problem when going to the all critics, top critics review pages as well. :/

Dec 8 - 07:50 AM

David Tanny

David Tanny

Hey RT, thanks for putting the Hobbit forums back up for us. May the Gods smile on you.

Dec 8 - 12:19 PM

David Tanny

David Tanny

I agree with Jon here. The PJ encourages people try the 48 fps, so it SHOULD be a factor when the filmmaker intends it to be the definitive version of his film.

Dec 7 - 05:26 PM

Michael Lena

Michael Lena

I mean, of course it should be mentioned, and the review can say whether its good or bad... but it still shouldn't really factor into the score of the FILM.

Dec 9 - 06:39 PM

Taylor Mefford

Taylor Mefford

I also agree with Jon. He made a choice to shoot in 48 FPS and it should be a factor in how the movie is viewed. I for one, never liked the idea and don't think i'll see the 48 fps, or I may if I have the money to walk out in the middle of the presentation

Dec 7 - 05:32 PM

Sam Mills

Sam Mills

I really want to see it. It looks amazing, and I know it's just the first of a three-part series. Jackson should consider looking into adapting Legend of the Seeker into a film next!

Dec 7 - 05:55 PM

Christopher Kulik

Christopher Kulik

Screw the HOBBIT, I'm more interested in the 100% rating that ZERO DARK THIRTY is holding onto.

Dec 7 - 06:24 PM

Ocram Immorto

Ocram Immorto

You mean that sequel to Act of Valor? XD

Dec 7 - 09:06 PM

Jónas Haux

Jónas Haux

Yeah, compare a film made by a Oscar winning director with a one of the worst film of the year.

Dec 8 - 09:22 AM

Christopher Kulik

Christopher Kulik

Thank you Jonas. In fact, speaking as a Navy vet I was absolutely offended by ACT OF VALOR, particularly how the SEALS were exploited by the Pentagon to make money for video game companies and the military industrial complex. Worst film of the year, by far, simply because of how offensively jingoistic it is.

Contrary to what Marco may think, I do have my reservations about ZERO DARK THIRTY, especially when you consider the current controversy that the writer and director were given special access by the Pentagon to so-called "confidential" file. I truly believe bin Laden has been dead for years, hence my reservations; that being said, I thought THE HURT LOCKER was hands down the Best Movie of 2009.

Dec 8 - 12:15 PM

Lancol E.

Lancol Et

Im so stoked for Jack Reacher! Who's with me!!?!!!!

Dec 8 - 12:34 PM

Fred Brooks

Fred Brooks

With 22 reviews in so far it's still very early for ZERO DARK THIRTY, but it would seem to have a very good shot at finishing over 90% on RT.

Dec 9 - 12:44 AM

Andrew Lee

Andrew Lee

I agree. If we always manipulated and twisted data to show a one sided view, it would be arguably worthless as a review site; it would be another commercial and unreliable for people seeking real unbiased input. Anyone interested in seeing what happens when you remove data (dissent of 48fps) can do so on their own without removing the source data that the rest of us might use.

Dec 7 - 06:36 PM

Andrew Targaryen

Andrew Targaryen

Ah, someone who agrees *sigh of relief*

Dec 8 - 04:29 PM

Andrew Lee

Andrew Lee

Maybe because people would only tolerate seeing one bad movie for every three good ones, before they conclude the review site is unreliable?

Dec 7 - 06:40 PM

Owen Dittes

Owen Dittes

Especially if it's a prequel to the Lord of the Rings.

Dec 7 - 06:49 PM

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