Peter Jackson's Hobbit movie 'overblown and overlong'
Use of new digital film technology and bloated plot spoil first of three Hobbit movies, say critics
OVERLONG, distracting in its use of cutting-edge digital technology and not as engrossing as the Lord of the Rings films... early reviews of The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey are not the critical raves director Peter Jackson is used to.
Arriving on a tidal wave of anticipation, the first instalment of Jackson’s Hobbit trilogy struggles to stretch J.R.R Tolkein’s short 1937 novel into two hours and 46 minutes of riveting cinema, says Geoffrey Macnab in The Independent. There is a sense of "a sledgehammers being used to crack nuts," he writes and "for all the sound and fury, not a great deal actually happens".
The Daily Telegraph’s Robbie Collin is even more critical of the way Jackson has pumped up Tolkein’s relatively slight 19-chapter book into an epic movie. "This film is so stuffed with extraneous faff and flummery that it often barely feels like Tolkien at all – more a dire, fan-written internet tribute," he writes. "As a lover of cinema, Jackson’s film bored me rigid; as a lover of Tolkien, it broke my heart."
Writing in The Guardian, Peter Bradshaw agrees the 170 minute film outstays its welcome long before the final scene, but praises its "enormous amount of fun, energy and bold sense of purpose".
Like many critics, Bradshaw is unconvinced by Jackson’s pioneering use of High Frame Rate: 48 frames a second film technology. HFR offers much higher definition and smoother "movement effects" than traditional 24 frames a second, but the result "looks uncomfortably like telly, albeit telly shot with impossibly high production values".
Bradshaw goes on: "Before you grow accustomed to this, it feels as if there has been a terrible mistake in the projection room and they are showing us the video location report from the DVD ‘making of’ featurette, rather than the actual film."
The Hollywood Reporter’s Todd McCarthy gives HFR the thumbs down, comparing the results to "ultra-vivid television", but says Jackson’s film, while a "bit of a slog", will satisfy the legions of fans and keep the franchise rolling.
The film has found one friend - Kate Muir of The Times. She says HFR lends the movie a "lurid clarity" and lavishes praise on its star, Martin Freeman, who "perks up the recipe with wit and true Hobbityness".
In a four-star review, she writes: "The film kept me entertained. I only flagged during the interminable Goblin v Dwarf battles, which looked like computer games."