In The Hobbit, Bilbo Baggins returns to the screen in a prequel of epic proportions. As the home-loving Hobbit lives his quiet life eating out of antique china and reading, he gets interrupted by Gandalf the Grey with quite the proposition. Gandalf's Fireworks were all the Hobbit remembered of the wizard when he was a lad, and while he dismissed all that Gandalf would say, he did not account for the resulting adventure when the Dwarves started to show up. Peter Jackson and Guillermo del Toro take the reigns of direction in this one.
Most of the reviews that have come out already are very mixed indeed, some citing that there's not enough source material to make it as epic as the first trilogy of Middle-Earth movies. The Hobbit is one small book, the smallest, being stretched into three movies that end up being spread too thin. Another controversy added to the mix derives from Jackson's use of 48 Frame-Per-Second filming in order to capture hyper realistic settings and characters; the lack of visuals make this an unnecessary addition to present scenes more realistically as most of these scenes don't exist in the first place.
Aside from the two nuances, everyone seemed to enjoy it regardless, if not for a chance to step into Middle-Earth once more. Some enjoyed it, some were displeased, and some just thought it wasn't great. We gathered some of the critical reviews for you, but be sure to leave your own reviews in the comments below!
Score: 4 out of 5 stars
When Jackson took on The Hobbit after Guillermo del Toro dropped it in 2010, it seemed like an obligation more than the passion that drove him to make the original trilogy. But for its occasional moments of excess and unhurried pace, An Unexpected Journey is proof that Jackson still has a knack for stories in this world, and that he may have more surprises in store as the rest of this new, unexpected trilogy unfolds.
Tolkien's full title is The Hobbit, or There and Back Again. I'm holding the filmmaker responsible for getting us all back again — to feelings of excitement and delight. Vital as they are, Gollum and Bilbo can only do so much to keep us enchanted. Is Jackson able to sustain the magic in two more installments? I peer into Tolkien's Misty Mountains and embrace the journey.
Score: 4 out of 5 Stars
In the long run, The Hobbit prequels could be weakened by Jackson’s expanded three film plan, but if Part 2 and Part 3 are as enjoyable as An Unexpected Journey, it’ll be hard for moviegoers to complain. The film includes everything that made the original Lord of the Rings trilogy so memorable – action-adventure, charm, humor, and breath-taking fantasy battles. Sure, a few extemporaneous Lord of the Rings elements slow things down and distract from the core Hobbit storyline, but overall, the director has once again presented audiences with a captivating and exciting trip to Middle-earth.
Thought It Was Okay
No Score Given
Over all, though, the shiny hyper-reality robs Middle-earth of some of its misty, archaic atmosphere, turning it into a gaudy high-definition tourist attraction. But of course it will soon be overrun with eager travelers, many of whom are likely to find the journey less of an adventure than they had expected.
Score: 7.9 out of 10
The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey almost attains greatness yet despite so many moments of epic fun, greatness remains just out of its reach. This is a very good and entertaining movie even if it never quite recaptures the wonder or mystique of the Lord of the Rings trilogy. Flaws and all, though, it was just nice to be back in Middle-earth again.
Overall, the biggest setback of The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey is that the film is split into three parts, which is sheer lunacy as The Hobbit is literally the shortest of Tolkein's novels. While it is a fun film, it lacks any of the serious nature in The Lord of the Rings which is fine, its more a children's story for adults. Most of the important and memorable scenes from the first portion of the book are there: the scene with the mountain trolls, the riddle game with Gollum, etc. For what its worth, The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey is a fun film but if your a hardcore Tolkein fan you'll probably walk away with a mixed bag of emotions as the credits roll.
It Wasn't Great
Peter Jackson's return to Middle-earth is visually resplendent and features strong performances from Martin Freeman and Ian McKellen, but the film's deliberate pace robs the material of some of its majesty.
Score: 2.5 out of 4 stars
What saves the day is the spidery, schizoid Gollum, again performed by the great Andy Serkis through the craft of motion capture. Though Serkis works on set with the actors, he has been denied Oscar recognition because of the computer-animated involved. Fie on you, Academy! Serkis equals and surpasses most of what passes for award-caliber performances. Here, playing a game of riddles with Bilbo, who has stolen the ring Gollum calls "my precious," Serkis helps turn The Hobbit into everything you wished for—a fantasy with the power to haunt your dreams. Too bad it takes the movie so damn long to get there.
Score: No rating
"The Hobbit" is like looking over Peter Jackson's shoulder to watch a computer screen. Occasionally, when the smoke clears, we get a glimpse of what "The Hobbit" might have been, had Freeman's quirkiness and humanity been given a chance to set the tone. The movie really springs to life only when Freeman dominates, as when Bilbo falls into a cave and discovers Gollum, looking like James Carville but acting like Peter Lorre. If you loved the earlier films, these are moments you will hold on to, but they're very few, and they're not enough.