Review Roundup (12/13): Peter Jackson's THE HOBBIT: AN UNEXPECTED JOURNEY

Related: New Line Cinema, Warner Bros

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Peter Jackson's THE HOBBIT: AN UNEXPECTED JOURNEY will open in theaters tomorrow, Friday, December 14 in 3D, 2D and IMAX 3D.

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey follows title character Bilbo Baggins, who is swept into an epic quest to reclaim the lost Dwarf Kingdom of Erebor, which was long ago conquered by the dragon Smaug. Approached out of the blue by the wizard Gandalf the Grey, Bilbo finds himself joining a company of thirteen dwarves led by the legendary warrior Thorin Oakenshield.

Their journey will take them into the Wild; through treacherous lands swarming with Goblins and Orcs, deadly Wargs and Giant Spiders, Shapeshifters and Sorcerers. Although their goal lies to the East and the wastelands of the Lonely Mountain, first they must escape the goblin tunnels, where Bilbo meets the creature that will change his life forever... Gollum.

Here, alone with Gollum, on the shores of an underground lake, the unassuming Bilbo Baggins not only discovers depths of guile and courage that surprise even him, he also gains possession of Gollum's "precious" ring that holds unexpected and useful qualities... A simple, gold ring that is tied to the fate of all Middle-earth in ways Bilbo cannot begin to know.

Let's see what the critics had to say:

A.O. Scott, The New York Times: The comparative playfulness of the novel could have made this "Hobbit" movie a lot of fun, but over the years Mr. Jackson seems to have shed most of the exuberant, gleefully obnoxious whimsy that can be found in early films like "Meet the Feebles" and "Dead Alive." A trace of his impish old spirit survives in some of the creature designs in "The Hobbit" - notably a gelatinous and gigantic Great Goblin and an encampment of cretinous, Three-Stooges-like trolls - but Tolkien's inventive, episodic tale of a modest homebody on a dangerous journey has been turned into an overscale and plodding spectacle.

Kenneth Turan, The Los Angeles Times: But the heart of the problem... is that all of "Lord of the Rings' " success led to a series of choices made for "The Hobbit," including the decision to push the new 48-frames-per-second technology, known as high frame rate, as the preferred format, that have not worked out for the best. The result is a film that is solid and acceptable instead of soaring and exceptional, one unnecessarily hampered in its quest to reach the magical heights of the trilogy.

Mark Hughes, Forbes: I have no idea what film the "meh" crowd of critics saw, but it must not have been The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, because their complaints have no relation to the masterful filmmaking displayed in this prequel adaptation to director Peter Jackson's blockbuster The Lord of the Rings franchise. The Hobbit is a big, bold, beautiful triumph on every level, standing squarely on its own two feet rather than attempting to mimic the style and voice of its predecessors. It is easily one of the year's best films, and should be a sure nominee for Best Picture, Best Director, Best Cinematography, Best Visual Effects, and Best Editing (Film and Sound).

Carole Mallory, Huffington Post: While initially I was not eager to see J.R.R.Tolkien's The Hobbit, I am pleased to say that it drew me in, invited me to study its opening and then once the dwarves appeared, it swept me away. One spectacular special effects sequence after another. Its ending will lift you up and almost out of your seat. Peter Jackson, who directed, co-wrote and produced this magnificent film, has done it again.




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