At midnight last night, the embargo on "The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey" reviews ended, and the world began to see what director Peter Jackson has prepared for our return trip to Middle-earth.
Most of the early reviews from bloggers praise the visuals and Jackson's undeniable ability to convincingly build a fantasy world, but complain of pacing problems and the repetitive nature of J.R.R. Tolkien's story, which may or may not translate well onto film.
Here's an early look at what the critics are saying about "The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey."
"As Bilbo Baggins, the comfortable hobbit unwillingly dragged onto this journey with a band of 13 dwarves, Martin Freeman is a nicely flustered and quick-witted presence; it takes a while for Bilbo to embrace his call to adventure, but by the time he does, he feels like a guy worth following for two more movies. Add in returning characters like Ian McKellen's Gandalf and (however briefly) Andy Serkis's Gollum, plus the handful of dwarves who manage to distinguish themselves from that rowdy bunch, and An Unexpected Journey becomes a comfortable little adventure-- and an even better one if you can convince yourself to stop comparing it to Lord of the Rings." — Katey Rich, CinemaBlend
Martin Freeman and Bilbo
"While I think Martin Freeman is a tremendously talented comic actor, I am starting to suspect that casting him was perhaps too easy. He gives a very good Martin Freeman performance here, with all the awkward double takes and reaction shots that you'd want from him, but I don't know much more about Bilbo now than I did at the start of the three hours. With "Lord Of The Rings," it always felt like the films were carefully calibrated to give every character the moments that would help define them, but this time out, it feels more like a big group of characters that we don't really know, doing things with fairly low stakes overall. Bilbo seems to join them on a whim, not out of any particular driving need, and it makes him less interesting as a central figure." — Drew McWeeny, HitFix
The High Frame-Rate
"Pros: Incredible clarity and sharpness of detail. Characters and objects in the background are nearly as clear and defined as those in the foreground of a shot. It makes for absolutely gorgeous establishing shots and exploration of new settings.
"Cons: Definite "motion sickness" potential during scenes of chaotic action or fast-movement; the increased clarity often feels as if you're standing on set with the actors/characters, so when they take a crazy tumble down a rabbit hole, for example, you feel just as disoriented...which might not be too pleasant for some." — Dave Trumbore, Collider
The Final Word
"What we're left with is a huge, beautiful piece of entertainment, the lows of which are slightly outweighed by its adrenaline pumping highs. The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey works, but feels bloated, derived from the fact that it's based on a child's book, only stuffed and stretched beyond the bounds of J.R.R. Tolkien's original narrative. Still, its flaws and fun work hand in hand to provide a suitably rousing first act to the Hobbit trilogy." — Germain Lussier, /Film
Check out everything we've got on "The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey."