The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, the first installment in director Peter Jackson's planned trilogy based upon JRR Tolkien's classic novel, has been receiving mixed reviews from film critics, with them criticising the film's length and presentation.
The Telegraph's Robbie Collin gave it two out of five stars, stating that it is "so stuffed with extraneous faff and flummery that it often barely feels like Tolkien at all – more a dire, fan-written internet tribute".
Clocking in at a running time just shy of 3 hours, An Unexpected Journey's length has been coming under much scrutiny from critics, with FilmSchoolRejects' Rob Hunter branding it an "overly long slog", with the first half’s pacing "more akin to a near-death turtle than an adventure film featuring heroes on a quest". The Daily Mail's Chris Tookey gave it three out of five stars, branding it "unduly long and overblown" whilst telling fans of Jackson's Lord of the Ring's trilogy that, if they were expecting another "cinematic triumph", they would need to "lower their expectations".
Peter Jackson's decision to film An Unexpected Journey in 3D at 48 frames per second, as compared to the usual 24, has also faced criticism, with ComingSoon's Edward Douglas stating that it was a "horrible decision to use a frame rate that makes much of it unwatchable". Slate's Dana Stevens concurs, stating that she "would have found more to appreciate in The Hobbit" if she "hadn’t been distracted by the eye-grating quality of its visual surface". However, Jackson himself has defended his use of the new technique, saying that 48fps creates "less eye strain and you have a sharper picture which creates more of the 3-dimensional world."
But the critical reaction to An Unexpected Journey hasn't all been negative. Empire's Dan Jolin awarded it four out of five stars, praising Martin Freeman's performance as protagonist Bilbo Baggins in particular, stating: "The Hobbit plays younger and lighter than Fellowship and its follow-ups, but does right by the faithful and has a strength in Martin Freeman’s Bilbo that may yet see this trilogy measure up to the last one."
The New Yorker's Anthony Lane wrote that "honor has been done to Tolkien, not least in the famous riddle game between Bilbo and Gollum", while The Guardian's Peter Bradshaw awarded it three out of five stars, stating that it "offers an enormous amount of fun, energy and a bold sense of purpose", but also bemoaned its lengthy runtime.
The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey is set to be released in the UK on December 13th and in the US on December 14th. Stay tuned to CraveOnline for our review, coming soon.