Critics Consensus: The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey Is (Mostly) Worth the Trip

Plus, Any Day Now is a powerful drama.

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This week's lone wide release is the The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, starring Martin Freeman and Ian McKellen in Peter Jackson's hotly-anticipated return to the Lord of the Rings universe. What do the critics have to say?

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey


Peter Jackson's got his work cut out for him. The director of the celebrated Lord of the Rings trilogy is now adapting another book by J. R. R. Tolkien -- the comparatively brief The Hobbit -- into a three-parter. Critics say the opening salvo, The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, is a well-acted, reasonably involving tale that often feels padded; in addition, some viewers may be disappointed with the visuals, as the film's increased framerate was meant to sharpen the look but appears washed out to many pundits. Bilbo Baggins (Martin Freeman) journeys with Gandalf (Ian McKellen) and a band of dwarves to the Lonely Mountain, where the dwarves' ancestral homeland is being occupied by a fearsome dragon. Along the way, our heroes encounter all manner of orc, troll, wizard, and even giants made of stone, as well as the mischievous Gollum. The pundits say The Hobbit features some terrific set pieces and plenty of detailed CGI, but it's a bit too long and doesn't feel quite as majestic as the previous LOTR entries. (Check out RT's Mordor vacation guide, as well as this week's Total Recall countdown of Jackson's best-reviewed movies.)

Also opening this week in limited release:

  • Any Day Now, starring Alan Cumming in a drama about a gay couple who get in trouble with authorities for raising a child in 1970s Los Angeles, is at 90 percent.
  • Consuming Spirits, a hand-drawn animated drama about a dysfunctional family in an Appalachian town, is at 78 percent.
  • Jason Becker: Not Dead Yet, a doc about a guitar prodigy who soldiers on in the face of Lou Gehrig's Disease, is at 78 percent.
  • Trashed, featuring Jeremy Irons in a doc about the ecological threat posed by garbage, is at 75 percent.
  • Stand Up Guys, starring Al Pacino and Christopher Walken in a dramedy about a group of old criminals who reunite after one gets out of prison, is at 56 percent.
  • Save The Date, starring Alison Brie and Lizzy Caplan in a romantic comedy about two sisters struggling with different commitment issues, is at 44 percent.
  • Let Fury Have The Hour, a documentary profile of a disparate group of left-leaning writers and musicians, is at 33 percent.
  • Yelling to the Sky, starring Ze Kravitz and Gabourey Sidibe in a coming-of-age drama about a young woman caring for her mentally ill mother in a rough neighborhood, is at 25 percent.