The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, has split the critics, creating a gulf as vast as the one separating Bilbo Baggins and Gollum. Such criticism could be expected from a movie that kicks off a trilogy -- yet is drawn from a novel that ran all of about 330 pages. So there's a bit of a slow wind-up here, something that has enraged a number of critics who wanted more action from a J.R.R. Tolkien adaptation. Here are exceprt from some movie reviews:
-- Tribune: Extracting three generously proportioned films from Tolkien's books made sense. But turning the relatively slim 1937 volume "The Hobbit" into a trilogy, peddling seven or eight hours of cine-mythology, suggests a better deal for the producers than for audiences. When, in Jackson's film, someone describes a character's "love of gold" as having become "too fierce," you wonder if the warning might apply to "The Hobbit" in other ways.
-- Washington Post: It's a bloated, shockingly tedious trudge that manages to look both overproduced and unforgivably cheesy. As the first of director Peter Jackson's trilogy -- the prequel to his adaptation of "The Lord of the Rings" -- it may well please the franchise's most devoted fans ... . But purely on its own terms, "An Unexpected Journey" can't be seen as anything but a disappointment, a dreary, episodic series of lumbering walk-talk-fight sequences that often looks less like genuine cinema than a large-scale video game, its high-def aesthetic and mushy close-ups perfectly suited to its presumed end-use on a living room wall or iPhone.
-- Wall Street Journal: [W]hat needs resaying is that the good stuff in "The Hobbit" is amazingly good. And mainly animated, from the motion-capture magic of Andy Serkis's Gollum (you can see the little monster's twisted mind and constipated brain churning away in the marvelous riddle game) to the depths of the goblins' tunnels, where the proscenium frame—or floating box, in the 3-D version—teems with life forms previously unimagined and hitherto unimaginable. An overlong adventure enlivened by wonders.
-- New York Times: I don't mean to blame the cultural situation for the specific failings of the movie, which rises to weary, belated mediocrity entirely on its own steam. Mr. Jackson has embraced what might be called theme-park-ride cinema, the default style of commercially anxious, creatively impoverished 3-D moviemaking. The action sequences are exercises in empty, hectic kineticism, with very little sense of peril or surprise.