Peter Jackson triumphantly returns to Middle Earth with The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey. A folksy, beguiling adventure, we get to enjoy the splendor of the story and fantastic settings in a more whimsical experience.
Julian Roman - MovieWeb
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.
Lisa Schwarzbaum - Entertainment Weekly
Tolkien's inventive, episodic tale of a modest homebody on a dangerous journey has been turned into an overscale and plodding spectacle.
A.O. Scott - New York Times
[The] elements are in place again, but the story feels less substantial than the Lord of the Rings tales.
Claudia Puig - USA Today
"The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey" has finally arrived, not on wings of gossamer fancy but with a hairy-footed thud.
Ann Hornaday - Washington Post
[A] dazzling, busy, fundamentally tedious movie ...
Ty Burr - Boston Globe
Even once Bilbo and company take to the hobbit highway, the pacing is leisurely verging on lethargic ...
Scott Foundas - Village Voice
The movie itself is a lot of fun. And if you can separate yourself from the visual distraction, you'll find plenty to enjoy.
Elizabeth Weitzman - New York Daily News
An overlong adventure enlivened by wonders.
Joe Morgenstern - Wall Street Journal
I was impressed with how much of the story's good humor Jackson and Co. manage to weave into the spectacle. It's there in the close shave with a gang of hungry trolls, and it really lifts off once Andy Serkis' uncanny Gollum enters the picture.
Chris Vognar - Dallas Morning News
To its own narrative detriment, "The Hobbit" works hard to lay the framework for what will follow. Certainly that's one way to set out on a trilogy, but it's surely not the best.
Lisa Kennedy - Denver Post
I found that it provided a pretty convincingly immersive experience, and I look forward to the technology's evolution/refinement. Which I guess also means I look forward to the next two installments of the trilogy.
Glenn Kenny - MSN Movies
On balance, honor has been done to Tolkien, not least in the famous riddle game between Bilbo and Gollum, and some of the exploits to come will surely lighten the load.
Anthony Lane - New Yorker
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.
Michael Phillips - Chicago Tribune
Little about the storytelling suggests a beating heart beneath the visuals; once the journey has begun, the characters find themselves in life-threatening danger with stupefying regularity.
Ben Sachs - Chicago Reader
This is not about a reluctant hero drawing courage from some deep personal well. It's not about dread and danger. It's about visual effects.
Steven Rea - Philadelphia Inquirer
"The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey" is not the worst film of the year, but it may be the most disappointing.
Colin Covert - Minneapolis Star Tribune
The last hour of this movie is pretty much nonstop, and it's a gas.
Tom Long - Detroit News
It all just takes so long.
Bill Goodykoontz - Arizona Republic
Fulfilling just a fraction of J.R.R. Tolkien's "There and Back Again" subtitle, The Hobbit alternately rewards and abuses auds' appetite for all things Middle-earth.
Peter Debruge - Variety
Piles on enough eye candy and action sequences to please fans, plus more humor than the three "Rings" films - even if it only occasionally achieves the trio's grandeur.
Lou Lumenick - New York Post
The film is worthy of both your attention and of the Tolkien legendarium in which Jackson, his actors and his Weta Workshop technical crew are so firmly situated.
Peter Howell - Toronto Star
What's all this add up to? Not terribly much.
Laremy Legel - Film.com
While Jackson hasn't delivered a hit on par with his "Lord of the Rings" movies, "The Hobbit" proves he can still do justice to the tricky blend of fantasy and action that made the earlier entries such enjoyable works of popular entertainment.
Eric Kohn - indieWIRE
The repeated iterations of fight, flight and respite here get wearing. Especially perhaps because, with Jackson's fetish for detail, they take more time to watch on screen than to read about.
Liam Lacey - Globe and Mail
I'm afraid that whoever it was in the New York Film Critics Circle who voted for "The Hobbit" as best animated film had a point. And so did the people who suspected that this whole thing was a bad idea.
Andrew O'Hehir - Salon.com
It's hard to overstate the degree to which the 48fps format interfered with my ability to get lost in this movie's story.
Dana Stevens - Slate
An Unexpected Journey is a competent, entertaining effort but it neither enthralls nor amazes in the way its predecessors did.
James Berardinelli - ReelViews
There are elements in this new film that are as spectacular as much of the Rings trilogy was, but there is much that is flat-footed and tedious as well, especially in the early going.
Todd McCarthy - Hollywood Reporter
Tolkien's brisk story of intrepid little hobbit Bilbo Baggins is drawn out and diluted by dispensable trimmings better left for DVD extras.
David Germain - Associated Press
The movie lacks majesty. Grand in parts, the movie is too often grandiose or grandiloquent; and the running time is indefensible.
Richard Corliss - TIME Magazine
Part One of director Peter Jackson's planned film trilogy of J.R.R. Tolkien's The Hobbit forces audiences to run an obstacle course before the fun kicks in.
Peter Travers - Rolling Stone
There's no denying the majesty in Peter Jackson's visuals but he's taken a relatively slim children's book and stretched it beyond the limits.
Richard Roeper - Richard Roeper.com
Solid and acceptable instead of soaring and exceptional, [and] unnecessarily hampered in its quest to reach the magical heights of the trilogy.
Kenneth Turan - Los Angeles Times
A bloated, entirely unnecessary cash-grab prequel suffering from a fatal case of elephantitis.
Sean Burns - Philadelphia Weekly
You may have seen Middle Earth before. But you haven't been IN Middle Earth.Peter Jackson's 'The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey' has made it possible for you to feel like you're surrounded by the astonishing environment created by J.R.R. Tolkien.
Linda Cook - Quad City Times (Davenport, IA)
With the first film pushing three hours, purists will be pleased. Less die-hard audiences will find a lot of meandering set-up - albeit visually gorgeous meandering setup.
Remember the joke that The Fellowship of the Ring was just a bunch of people walking around for three hours? In this case, it's actually true.
- The Verge
An occasionally entertaining but empty fantasy epic...
Felix Vasquez Jr. - Cinema Crazed
It rambles over hill and dale and mountain and field and forest and marsh and through cavern and catacomb and grotto and pothole...but will please the Tolkien faithful.
John Serba - MLive.com
While the new scenes don't add much to the great film, the outstanding wealth of special features makes this one of the must-own Blu-rays of 2013.
Jeff Beck - We Got This Covered
It's like we returned to Disneyland to find it looking as magical as ever, but with most of the rides closed.
Eric D. Snider - EricDSnider.com
There are worse ways to kill time, sure; it's just that there is, alas, so much time to kill.
Will Leitch - Deadspin
"Unexpected Journey" runs nearly three hours. That gives Jackson plenty of time to revive its magic [which he does] by triggering our good will toward the "Rings" trilogy. He evokes the trilogy's tone and its rhythms.
Carla Meyer - Sacramento Bee
As great as Serkis is, he can't begin to make 'The Hobbit' look anything but short.
Al Alexander - The Patriot Ledger
The odd thing about the saying "too much of a good thing" is that it acknowledges the fact that, something, in general, is composed of an overabundance of excellence.
Bill Gibron - Film Racket
The Hobbit may not be as memorable as the Lord of the Rings trilogy, but it's a mostly faithful adaptation that sticks to the same tones and themes of the source material.
Jeremy Lebens - We Got This Covered
It's a journey that any fan of Peter Jackson's "The Lord of the Rings" Trilogy should enjoy.
Wesley Lovell - Cinema Sight
Peter Jackson's return to Middle Earth feels familiar and unfulfilling.
Tom Glasson - Concrete Playground
If Jackson had focused simply on Bilbo's party and their attempts to get a proper homeland for the dwarves, 'The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey' would have been a leaner, more engaging tale.
Dan Lybarger - KC Active
Fans of J.R.R. Tolkien may like sitting through a 169 minute film, that easily could have been trimmed by at least 50 minutes. But, I was constantly aware of the long running time.
Paul Chambers - Movie Chambers
Whenever this movie suffers from lengthy prequel-itis and a weighty sense of expectations, it falls short. Still, for much of its 165 minutes, this epic has enough small moments and deft touches that it tugs you along with the power of a good story.
Brian Gibson - Vue Weekly (Edmonton, Canada)
An Unexpected Journey offers an unparalleled visual spectacle
Mary Clare Waireri - Fan The Fire
a drag-down, mildly diverting entertainment
Jay Antani - Cinema Writer
When the dwarves turn up mob-handed, kicking off a night of boisterous revelry, the laboured jests and jollity seem to go on forever. And the combination of dwarves, forced humour and familiar faces off the telly turn the occasion into bad panto.
Jason Best - Movie Talk
The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey had me with the dulcet melancholy of displaced Dwarves, yearning to be home.
Blake Howard - 2UE That Movie Show
Slower out of the gates than a three-legged donkey... but it gets better, and fans won't mind this slowburn beginning because, hey, it's Middle Earth.
Matt Neal - The Standard
It's the behaviour of the supposedly affable dwarves that makes this particular 'adventure' such a punishing experience.
Charlie Lyne - Ultra Culture
...a jaw-dropping visual carnival courtesy of Peter Jackson and company!
Michael A. Smith - MediaMikes
Very, very (very) slow in the early going, but Peter Jackson does get there (eventually).
Clint O'Connor - Cleveland Plain Dealer
The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey is a story stretched too thin; dragged out by drudging slowness and obvious padding that its handful of thrilling action sequences can't improve.
Diva Velez - TheDivaReview.com
Should more than satisfactorily scratch the itch of those who have waited many long years to see Middle Earth back on screen.
Gabe Leibowitz - Film and Felt
A marvel of filmmaking wizardry and engrossing adventure storytelling, The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey marks another triumph by director Peter Jackson who once again takes J.R. Tolkien's words and brings them to life with skilful, passionate expertise.
Matthew Pejkovic - Matt's Movie Reviews
THE Hobbit occupies that same awkward spot in popular cinema as the Twilight movies in terms of balancing good cinema against fan-service.
Tim Martain - The Mercury
Here's hoping Jackson's love affair with technology shifts back to his real strength-good old-fashioned storytelling-and that he has the courage to edit down the film.
Richard Knight - Windy City Times
"Disappointing" isn't the same thing as "bad."
Rob Vaux - Mania.com
There is simply not enough story to justify the inordinate length...the enormous production effort is negated by [the] disastrous decision to shoot at 48 frames per second...This makes the entire enterprise look like the world's most expensive home video.
Jim Schembri - 3AW
Lacking the interesting characters and intriguing subplots that made the earlier trilogy so engaging, The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey is too flat, too slow.
Matthew Toomey - ABC Radio Brisbane
A vibrant vision but a long slog.
Charles Koplinski - Illinois Times
The absolute highlight: the return of Andy Serkis, master of motion-capture performance, as the scary, disturbing, pathetic Gollum.
John Beifuss - Commercial Appeal (Memphis, TN)
A wild and visually stunning quest through a fantasy world all done with the noble spirit of courage and goodwill.
Cameron Williams - The Popcorn Junkie
For what it's worth, the first installment of The Hobbit hits all the right notes and delivers what will be expected of it
James Kendrick - Q Network Film Desk
Like the sad, bug-eyed Gollum, moviegoers may not have realized how much they missed movies like this onscreen in the past several years.
Phil Villarreal - OK! Magazine
Repetitive and pointless action scenes fill out an already bloated runtime, but not to the level of indulgence that we saw on 'King Kong'.
Garth Franklin - Dark Horizons
For thousands, the Lord of The Rings trilogy was an emotion-filled spectacle; The Hobbit, by comparison, is all pixels and no pulse.
Simon Foster - Screen-Space
Wax your hyperbole.
Kelly Vance - East Bay Express
All in all I think of it as The Hobbit: A Better Than Expected Journey.
Ken Hanke - Mountain Xpress (Asheville, NC)
'The Hobbit' is another ambitious, gorgeous and faithful trip into JRR's writing - and because of this, it won't win any new fans if you had no patience ten years ago. For those who do, you'll definitely want to go there and back again.
Patrick Kolan - Shotgun Critic
An unexpectedly great start to the prequel to "LOTR"; Peter Jackson strikes again.
Jackie K. Cooper - jackiekcooper.com
My biggest complaint about this latest adventure in Middle-earth is that it is three hours worth of set-up for the next movie.
Lori Hoffman - Atlantic City Weekly
Much as with LotR, the casting is a strength.
Michael Burgin - Paste Magazine
This first chapter of Peter Jackson's new Tolkien trilogy takes us back to the familiar settings and characters, inflating a simple journey into an epic adventure in the process.
Rich Cline - Contactmusic.com
Peter Jackson didn't particularly want to direct The Hobbit, and I didn't particularly want to be bored to tears, but there we both were, fulfilling what could only be described as some sort of cinematic murder-suicide pact.
Simon Miraudo - Quickflix
Having now seen it twice, I favor the 2D/24p version over the 3D/48p one. But absent the format quibble, Jackson gives us a worthy start to a new trilogy.
Jonathan W. Hickman - Daily Film Fix
I have a reservation about the tone of pantomime that is established at the start of the film, but the much anticipated 48 frames per second 3D presentation seems glorious to me
Andrew L. Urban - Urban Cinefile
Jackson's adroit direction and brilliance of the reality are the film's high points. Whether there is the substance to support three films will be revealed. As far as technical wizardry goes with superb 3D effects, it is the visuals that excel
Louise Keller - Urban Cinefile
Butter spread over too much bread, Bilbo might say.
Rob Humanick - Projection Booth
Aqui e ali, ate sentimos o gosto do universo criado por Tolkien, mas para isso temos que devorar quilos e mais quilos da massa fermentada por um padeiro megalomaniaco que perdeu o controle sobre o que levara ao forno.
Pablo Villaca - Cinema em Cena
Despite its bloated length and meandering plot, this is still an enjoyable production, at least for fans of Peter Jackson, Middle Earth and J.R.R. Tolkien.
Robert Roten - Laramie Movie Scope
It does what so few sequels/prequels do, making you hungry for the next of the series, while still making you appreciate very much what has come before.
Peter Jackson seems keenly aware of the differences between The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings, and instead of trying to make one more like the other, he embraces what makes each story unique.
Rick Marshall - IFC.com
Jackson seems to be going through the motions of epic fantasy filmmaking.
Ian Buckwalter - The Washingtonian
In his desire to tell this story in the most comprehensive manner possible, Jackson seems to have forgotten one of cinema's most pleasurable tricks: the ability to cut to the chase.
Alistair Harkness - Scotsman
This is a Hobbit cobbled together by an obsession with technological ingenuity at the expense of storytelling.
Siobhan Synnot - Scotsman
Simply, if you're a fan of the way Jackson has delivered Middle-earth to you in the past, then this is more of the same...
Mark Bell - Film Threat
... there's nothing to hate or fear here (unless you buy the super-chubby size soda). Welcome back, Middle Earth.
Kevin A. Ranson - MovieCrypt.com
Visually it is sometimes amazing, but it is a large troll step down from the last trilogy.
Mark R. Leeper - Mark Leeper's Reviews
Entertaining, but just when a good thing becomes too much of a good thing will vary from viewer to viewer.
Scott Nash - Three Movie Buffs
For better or worse this is no longer J.R.R. Tolkien's Hobbit it has become Peter Jackson's Hobbit. Lots of talking, walking and singing. Hard to take the villains seriously when they all sound like high-pitched singing versions of Elmer Fudd.
Michelle Alexandria - Eclipse Magazine
Full of stuff... all the way up to a bloated 169-minute running time. But stuff is not exactly the same thing as having a rich and complicated plot.
Tim Brayton - Antagony & Ecstasy
Though some may find "An Unexpected Journey" a bit slow in parts (I can't imagine) or a tad too long (I might agree), I found the experience exhilarating!
Jeanne Kaplan - Kaplan vs. Kaplan
Whatever you think of Sir Peter Jackson --- he was knighted in 2010 for "his service to films" --- you have to admire his ambition.
David Kaplan - Kaplan vs. Kaplan
Instead of simply adapting Tolkien's novel, Jackson has opted to use the story as a jumping off point for a convoluted prequel that threatens to do for Middle Earth what George Lucas's Star Wars prequels did for a galaxy far, far away.
Steve Biodrowski - Cinefantastique
This is hobbit cordial, one part juice to nine parts water.
Ed Whitfield - The Ooh Tray
Is the 48fps format a good thing? Not unless the title had been Days of Our Hobbits or As the Shire Turns. My advice, then, would be to see this fairly entertaining movie in 2-D or even regular 3-D and leave the 48fps nonsense by the wayside.
Matt Brunson - Creative Loafing
I prefer my movies to be more entertainment than ordeal.
Pete Vonder Haar - Houston Press
'Well, that was the longest video game trailer I have ever seen. No, seriously, are you going to show the real film now?'
Widgett Walls - Needcoffee.com
Not what you might have been expecting, or hoping for.
Kurt Loder - Reason Online
My first thought in watching The Hobbit was: Do we really need this movie? It was my last thought, too.
Peter Rainer - Christian Science Monitor
A well-made spectacle that makes up for overall lacking story and character development with one incredible action scene after the next.
Bill Clark - FromTheBalcony
Nearly three hours, and the story has progressed only slightly. Nothing is short and sweet here, not even the identities. It's always Thorin, son of Theraflu, son of Thong, etc.
Gary Thompson - Philadelphia Daily News
Jackson himself seems to miss the forest of the story for the literal trees.
Nell Minow - Beliefnet
Tolkien tale isn't as great as LOTR, but better for tweens.
Sandie Angulo Chen - Common Sense Media
Moments of brilliance and moments of boredom
Willie Waffle - WaffleMovies.com
Jackson's risky creative choices have drained Bilbo Baggins' adventure of its magic.
Alison Gang - San Diego Union-Tribune
Those expecting THE HOBBIT to be on the same level as LORD OF THE RINGS are only setting themselves up for disappointment. But if you just go in expecting a fun adventure, you should be able to enjoy it. Just DON'T see it in the higher frame rate.
Austin Kennedy - Film Geek Central
It's all fight scenes, and the fight scenes have no arc. You just sit there waiting for some inevitable deus ex machina to save the day whenever Peter Jackson feels like it. The characters have no agency. It's like watching a kid play with his GI Joes.
Vincent Mancini - FilmDrunk
By no means a disaster, The Hobbit mixes thrills with disappointments
Robert Denerstein - Movie Habit
Tolkein geeks rejoice
Marty Mapes - Movie Habit
Fantasy fans hungry for a second breakfast of Tolkien-fueled fare can get their fill with this visually sumptuous feast.
Tyler Hanley - Palo Alto Weekly
Peter Jackson catches a nasty case of George Lucas-itis with his latest Middle earth saga.
Christian Toto - Big Hollywood
...has nearly as much going for it (Martin Freeman as Bilbo, much untampered-with Tolkien dialogue) as it does against it (that chintzy-looking 48 FPS speed, bloated screenplay).
Chris Barsanti - PopMatters
Sad to say, "The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey" is a pale shadow trying to reach the sun on the strength of the "Lord of the Rings" trilogy.
Bob Bloom - Journal and Courier (Lafayette, IN)
In his attempt to produce a definitive, enhanced-strength version of the text, Jackson has stripped away much of the fun, a great deal of the energy and most of the humour.
Donald Clarke - Irish Times
...almost 3 hours watching this would seem to be beyond torture for a normal adult, despite the exceptional production values which comprise the only reason to see it.
Tony Medley - Tolucan Times
What it all comes down to is that if you in any way, shape or form enjoyed the "Lord of the Rings" movies then you must see "The Hobbit." Many happy returns.
Mathew DeKinder - Suburban Journals of St. Louis
It frequently seems as though Jackson was less interested in making The Hobbit than in remaking his own fabulously successful Lord of the Rings series.
Christopher Orr - The Atlantic
Yet another battle-filled and self-indulgent film by Peter Jackson.
Frederic and Mary Ann Brussat - Spirituality and Practice
Not all the scenes are necessary, and a great deal of the movie is set-up, with Jackson reveling in his own return to Middle Earth. But it's an enjoyable experience.
Kevin Carr - 7M Pictures
With each successive set-piece, the movie grows more and more rousing.
Ethan Alter - Television Without Pity
Happily, despite all the technical details, "The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey" is exciting, tantalizing and satisfying.
Jeffrey M. Anderson - San Francisco Examiner
A minor flaw or two but assuming you don't spend all of your days barefoot like a Hobbit, the movie will knock your socks off.
Gary Wolcott - Tri-City Herald
While this film is way too long and might be more for Tolkien devotees than mainstream audiences, after a slow start it turns into a rousing adventure with plenty of visual flair and top-notch action sequences.
Todd Jorgenson - Cinemalogue.com
The reason it's so hard to immerse yourself in the world of Middle Earth again isn't HOW Peter Jackson filmed "The Hobbit." It's WHAT he filmed.
Rob Thomas - Capital Times (Madison, WI)
The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey is like 90 minutes of flirting, an hour of foreplay, and no sex. In other words, it's fun, but not entirely satisfying.
Mike McGranaghan - Aisle Seat
A hugely enjoyable set-up for what looks set to be another thrilling trilogy.
Alex Zane - Sun Online
Precisely what an adventure epic should be: huge, long, and lots of fun.
Scott Weinberg - GeekNation
Jackson has delivered plenty more of the big setpieces that fans loved in the trilogy, albeit at the cost of making The Hobbit far more imperial and epic than it needs to be.
David Sexton - This is London
A few extemporaneous Lord of the Rings elements distract from The Hobbit storyline but Jackson has presented a captivating and exciting return to Middle-earth.
Ben Kendrick - ScreenRant
Jackson has come back to Middle Earth to compose his most masturbatory effort yet.
Neil Miller - Film School Rejects
This first installment should draw a large audience; getting it back for rounds two and three will be more difficult.
Daniel Eagan - Film Journal International
This has to go down as the most disappointing film of the year.
Marc Mohan - Oregonian
There are so few directors who can convincingly create a fantasy world that I applaud Jackson for continuing to make Middle Earth a travel destination we still love to visit -- even if the journey is becoming less direct.
Beth Accomando - KPBS.org
It would be wrong to ignore the technical achievement that Jackson has pulled off yet again. But when said and done, "The Hobbit" feels more like a cinematic encyclopedia of Tolkein's mythical world rather than a trip to the movies.
Justin Craig - FoxNews.com
Despite some minor missteps, watching it feels like welcoming an old friend into your home. He may ramble a bit and slightly overstay his welcome, but hanging out with him reminds you of why you're friends in the first place.
Eric Melin - Scene-Stealers.com
THE HOBBIT: AN UNEXPECTED JOURNEY is a visual feast with whimsy and charm.
JimmyO - JoBlo's Movie Emporium
A promising start.
John Wirt - Advocate (Baton Rouge, LA)
Hems and haws with only an occasional cinematic punch, making it a good, but very expected journey.
Mark Sells - The Reel Deal
...buried beneath the bloated 2-hour and 46-minute run time of The Hobbit is as an entertaining two-hour movie...
Jeff Meyers - Metro Times (Detroit, MI)
While the 48fps reads very much as "American soap opera" in the early scenes, it's quite effective in the rousing, vertigo-laced action sequences. Messy, but worth a look.
Brian Juergens - AfterElton.com
Are the creatures amazingly rendered? Yes. Have we seen their lifelike equal onscreen before? No.
Leonard Maltin - Leonard Maltin's Picks
Fun, though more than a little trying.
Jeffrey Westhoff - Northwest Herald (Crystal Lake, IL)
Is it crunchable? Is it scrumptious? The best awful-looking film I have ever seen.
James Verniere - Boston Herald
Time will tell if this is a new Peter Jackson cash cow or just a bridge too far.
Robin Clifford - Reeling Reviews
As entertaining as watching the last bits of ketchup drip out of the bottle.
Matt Pais - RedEye
The film is frequently gorgeous, technologically adventurous and eventually thrilling.
David Frese - Kansas City Star
Bloated...overlong. Even Shakespeare needs editing.
The final sequence is an inspired little montage, with a Wagnerian flick in its scaly tail, setting up Hobbit 2. I can't wait. And I'm the one who didn't even want to go into Hobbit 1
Nigel Andrews - Financial Times
Features terrific performances, stunning action sequences and some state-of-the-art special effects, but it's also far too long ...
Matthew Turner - ViewLondon
Even at their eye-filling best, these sequences generate more spectacle than suspense.
Jesse Hassenger - PopMatters
I'm here to vouch for Jackson, except for the length.
Jim Slotek - Jam! Movies
If this were Green Eggs and Ham, the film would stop at approximately the point at which you would not eat them with a fox.
Walter Chaw - Film Freak Central
Once the adventure is finally underway, and Martin Freeman's meek hero starts to come into his own, Jackson digs in and delivers an appropriately epic companion piece to his earlier trilogy.
Norman Wilner - NOW Toronto
Almost all highlights and bombast, with little if any room for subtlety or poetry.
Steven D. Greydanus - Decent Films Guide
One possibility is that the main thing to recommend the film is nostalgia. But so be it.
Eugene Novikov - Film Blather
By the third time someone hangs by his fingertips over a gaping void, or Gandalf shouts "Run!" so they can flee the latest CGI monstrosity, the Lonely Mountain seems far away indeed.
Peter Keough - Boston Phoenix
Though at two hours, 50 minutes it feels overstuffed, the first "Hobbit" film holds its own thanks to inspired acting and some jaw-dropping technical innovations.
Mary Ann Gwinn - Seattle Times
Gets off to a decent start for this next trilogy, but it's not the epic, genre-redefining event of the one that preceded it.
Jeffrey Lyles - Lyles' Movie Files
Once it gets going, it's actually quite fun.
T'Cha Dunlevy - Montreal Gazette
At its best, it recaptures the Rings movies' breadth, detail, and staggering sense of beauty.
Tasha Robinson - AV Club
The overgenerous running time is somewhat to the film's advantage, but there are warning signs that Jackson might be stretching the tale to its limit.
Kent Turner - School Library Journal
This movie is about drawing things out as much as possible to make a snack-size story feel like a meal.
Chris Hewitt (St. Paul) - St. Paul Pioneer Press
Often entertaining, especially for those fans who loved The Lord of the Rings and have been waiting years to see more of Tolkien's Middle-earth onscreen.
Josh Bell - Las Vegas Weekly
The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey is a lot like that beat up car you have sitting in the driveway. It doesn't always accelerate when it should, but once it gets going it's more reliable than anything.
Chris Sawin - Examiner.com
Jackson's biggest failing with the first installment of The Hobbit is that he crowds out a great story with such minor plot developments that carry no immediate importance to the movie or characters.
Kirk Baird - Toledo Blade
The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey ... is clumsy where Tolkien's book is streamlined -- filling in the gaps where the novel is vague...
Mark Dujsik - Mark Reviews Movies
Seeing The Hobbit is like going to a timeshare presentation. First you have to sit through the boring stuff before you can take advantage of the spectacular benefits.
Tony Macklin - tonymacklin.net
Just because you can do three movies doesn't mean you need to do three movies.
Rebecca Murray - About.com
Jackson imposes a sense of grandeur but mostly loses Tolkien's sense of fun.
Lawrence Toppman - Charlotte Observer
Okay but nothing spectacular as a whole and certainly not unique. (Full Content Review for Parents also available)
Jim Judy - Screen It!
The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey looks like the start of another blockbuster trilogy.
Henry Fitzherbert - Daily Express
With approximately six more hours to go, it's tough not to shudder at the sheer lengths director Peter Jackson is about to go to stretch this story into paper-thin taffy.
Watching The Hobbit was an unexpected endurance test. Younger children will not last the pace, but plucky ten year olds with a couple of well timed toilet breaks will lap this up.
Brian Henry Martin - UTV
If The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey is any indicator of things to come, this trilogy could be every bit as wondrous and exciting as the one that preceded it.
Jason Buchanan - TV Guide's Movie Guide
Rather than an epic continuation of Jackson's Middle-earth obsession, the film seems more like the work of a man driving around a multilevel parking garage without being able to find the exit.
Marjorie Baumgarten - Austin Chronicle
Guess what is unexpected about this journey? Nothing, as there isn't one surprise in watching this continuation of the cinematic telling of J.R.R. Tolkien's Middle Earth tales.
Michael Smith - Tulsa World
A bloated, dull mess of a film that meanders when it should move and stumbles when it should run.
Brian Tallerico - HollywoodChicago.com
An Unexpected Journey is a major comedown, a muddle-headed and cumbersome piece of filmmaking that betrays Jackson's mercenary motives -- Tolkien's book, too.
Tom Charity - CNN.com
Get ready for a more heated debate than any election season. Is Peter Jackson's ambitious, overblown adaptation worth it, or is it a flagrant attempt to create a cash cow out of a children's book? The answer is yes.
Joe Lozito - Big Picture Big Sound
If you loved the earlier films, these are moments you will hold on to, but they're very few, and they're not enough.
Mick LaSalle - San Francisco Chronicle
If you're going to a see a nearly three-hour movie based on a fraction of a popular book, make it "Lincoln"
Stephen Silver - EntertainmentTell
Once again, Jackson proves adept at capturing the tone and feel of Middle Earth, and the film takes us along familiar trails to meet some of our old friends.
Jay Stone - Canada.com
As fun as it is to watch, this isn't Tolkien's Hobbit. The story of a peaceable traveler who knew the virtue of restraint is lost to the vision of filmmakers who have none.
Jeffrey Overstreet - Image
I trust Jackson's instincts with Tolkien's work. It's his editorial indifference that could pose a greater threat to The Hobbit than any attack from Smaug.
Brian Orndorf - Blu-ray.com
The unhappy truth [is] that this return visit to Middle Earth is a bloated letdown.
Frank Swietek - One Guy's Opinion
Between its lighter tone and a decade's worth of improvements in digital film techniques, there should be enough of a novelty factor to delight most fans.
Bob Mondello - NPR
At nearly three hours long, "An Unexpected Journey" has moments when the caravan seems both overstuffed and out of balance, but it's such a scenic trip that only a stubborn homebody could complain.
Joe Williams - St. Louis Post-Dispatch
The tone of Jackson's latest is, appropriately, much more jovial than that of Rings, which unfolds in an era far more stricken with despair.
R. Kurt Osenlund - Slant Magazine
...for the faithful. For everyone else, it will probably prove the same as any long journey, periods of discovery and excitement countered with long stretches of boredom.
Laura Clifford - Reeling Reviews
His first installment of The Hobbit, Tolkien's relatively slim precursor to the sprawling "Rings" saga, is a technically impressive but bloated adventure that makes you feel every one of its 169 minutes.
Cary Darling - Fort Worth Star-Telegram/DFW.com
It is great to once more be whisked back to Tolkien's extraordinarily vivid world, but Jackson's overstuffed film proves that it is possible to get too much of a good thing.
Mike Scott - Times-Picayune
It may not be the story the book told in content and tone, but it's the story it had to be... plus 30 minutes.
Matthew Razak - Flixist.com
To gaze upon the film, like Frodo staring into that prophetic magic orb, is to be shaken by a dark vision of cinema's future.
A.A. Dowd - Time Out Chicago
Those early scenes in the Shire and the story of the loss of the dwarf kingdom establish character and purpose and give reason to hope and care that, like a talented sports team with a losing record, things can get only better.
Duane Dudek - Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
A delightfully fun trip back to Middle-earth, even if it fails to justify its overstuffed 160 minute runtime.
Jason Zingale - Bullz-Eye.com
A major disappointment that is about as difficult to swallow as the Denny's meals that are among the avalanche of commercial tie-ins that have accompanied its release.
Peter Sobczynski - eFilmCritic.com
.. An absolute triumph, possessing all the magic, adventure and excitement of (the) landmark "Lord of the Rings" trilogy.
Greg Maki - Star-Democrat (Easton, MD)
Peter Jackson definitely knows what he's doing. He just didn't do it this time.
William Bibbiani - CraveOnline
Peter Jackson has formally moved away from the artistic act of directing, and into the business of creating synthetic movie "product."
Cole Smithey - ColeSmithey.com
Does An Unexpected Journey do a satisfactory job bringing audiences back to Middle Earth? The answer is 'yes' - if not as resolutely as I may have hoped - and the film is absolutely worth seeing for this quality alone
Jonathan Lack - We Got This Covered
"...after seeing The Hobbit I couldn't wait to see it again - projected at 24 frames per second and without 3-D."
Josh Larsen - LarsenOnFilm
I feel like the 48 frames per second took off a full half point of enjoyment, yet I proudly reclaim here as I confidently send movie lovers forth to see "The Hobbit" (in 24 frames, please!).
Kristian Harloff - Schmoes Know
Regardless of the frames, dimensions, or goggles used to conjure it, "The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey" is an incredible ride and a triumphant return to Middle Earth.
Mark Ellis - Schmoes Know
There are people who claim to see no difference between 24 and 48 frame rates, and to them, I'd recommend an unexpected journey to the eye doctor.
Rene Rodriguez - Miami Herald
Packed with crescendos and crap-outs, Peter Jackson's mega-bloated beginning to Bilbo Baggins' pilgrimage across Middle-earth to Lonely Mountain both awes and bores.
Erick Weber - NECN
Decent enough fantasy adventure, but it doesn't especially feel like Tolkien.
Catherine Bray - Film4
"The Hobbit" becomes what it was originally meant to be - not a cut-from-the-same-cloth prequel, but its own, individual thing.
Stephen Whitty - Newark Star-Ledger
It's a shame to see Peter Jackson treading water when there are so many new cinematic horizons worth exploring.
Robert Levin - amNewYork
The decision to hit the 12A rating squarely on the head also means that several scenes, particularly those involving Radegast the Brown (Sylvester McCoy) feel added more for their cuteness than content.
Amber Wilkinson - Eye for Film
Even though this installment is mostly a prelude, Jackson's eccentric mixture of low humor, earnest foreboding and digitally processed pageantry is consistently engaging and immersive.
Keith Uhlich - Time Out
If Peter Jackson couldn't tell this slight story in a single film there's no hope the other two in this prequel series will be any less bloated.
Daniel M. Kimmel - Sci-Fi Movie Page
It's easy to spot the padding in this over-long, character-packed, bladder-testing, 162-minute first instalment. But there's still more than enough here to make it a worthy addition to the Oscar-laden fantasy series.
Andy Lea - Daily Star
It's a promising start...but where it's going to in the two remaining movies is anybody's guess.
Tim Evans - Sky Movies
The Hobbit may be a different story to The Lord Of The Rings ... but there is really nothing all that unexpected about this journey.
Matt Looker - TheShiznit.co.uk
In a bit of irony, Bilbo Baggins says at the end of the movie: "I do believe the worst is behind us." We can only hope so.
Charlie McCollum - San Jose Mercury News
The board is set, the pieces are moving and we're set up nicely for Jackson to tighten the noose with the love of second-act grit he displayed in The Two Towers.
Adam Lee Davies - Little White Lies
The more dark it becomes, the more 'The Hobbit' becomes compelling as a story, and finds a fitting tone.
Dave Calhoun - Time Out
"The Hobbit" is an impressive first chapter.
Rafer Guzman - Newsday
I found myself concentrating more on the strange look of the film and less on the film itself.
Danny Minton - Fort Bend Sun
Thankfully, Freeman is a charismatic lead, employing that familiar look of weary bemusement (perfected on The Office) to offer a humorous counterpoint to all the growly doom-mongering.
Stella Papamichael - Radio Times
While fans of J.R.R. Tolkien's novels and The Lord of the Rings movies will find plenty to enjoy and marvel over, non-believers may find themselves getting bored and bemused by the unnecessarily drawn-out story.
John Hiscock - Daily Mirror [UK]
Where the format comes into its own is in intense, action-packed territory. An Unexpected Journey's battle sequences are especially striking.
Neala Johnson - Herald Sun (Australia)
An Unexpected Journey is a bit ropey, excessive and padded in places, sure, but if that's the worst and the best is yet to come, then this could end up being another great trilogy.
Dave Golder - SFX Magazine
It's not as good as I hoped, but it's also a lot better than I feared.
Christopher Tookey - Daily Mail [UK]
And we're back! Slam bang in Middle-earth as though the Lord of the Rings trilogy never went away, which it didn't.
Kate Muir - Times [UK]
Thankfully, Jackson's flair for action sequences and bold and complex production design hasn't deserted him.
Geoffrey Macnab - Independent
Viewers have come to expect visceral combat between characters who feel tangible in their appearance and reactions, but there's none of that here.
Rob Hunter - Film School Rejects
( ... )despite plenty of flaws, this new forerunner to JRR Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings is set to have merit on its own terms. It's the most exciting film of 2012. And it's a technological ground breaker, too...
Graham Young - Birmingham Mail
[M]ore than a bit like slogging through overly completist volumes of fan fiction, and that is going to bore more casual moviegoers, and also some serious fans...
MaryAnn Johanson - Flick Filosopher
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. There is treasure here.
Dan Jolin - Empire Magazine
The Lord of the Rings trilogy [has] been replaced by something that resembles tatty summer-stock theater.
Peter Jackson returns to the Middle Earth he rendered so faithfully in Lord of the Rings, and it's never looked so glorious.
James Mottram - The List
The real triumph of The Hobbit is that Peter Jackson leaves you wanting more.
Allan Hunter - Daily Express
A tighter hand (and one less film in the mix) may have helped this first film somewhat but there's no doubt that the first step taken on our journey with The Hobbit is an enjoyable and visually stunning one.
Jon Lyus - HeyUGuys
Jackson has made The Hobbit with brio and fun, and Martin Freeman is just right as Bilbo Baggins: he plays it with understatement and charm.
As a lover of cinema, Jackson's film bored me rigid; as a lover of Tolkien, it broke my heart.
Robbie Collin - Daily Telegraph
Emotionally rewarding, imaginatively detailed and made with a genuine sense of joy, the first Hobbit chapter succeeds despite its structural and formatting mis-steps.
Emma Dibdin - Digital Spy
Grandiose and visually spectacular, although the visual effects overwhelm the narrative.
Susan Granger - SSG Syndicate
Once these dwarves, accompanied by Bilbo and Gandalf, hit the road, the film takes off and doesn't come down until the credits roll.
Marshall Fine - Hollywood & Fine
An Unexpected Journey has so many pay-offs that most are likely to re-engage with the saga.
Garry Maddox - Sydney Morning Herald
The Lord of the Rings trilogy behind him, Peter Jackson has begun yet another, this time adapting the Tolkien epic, The Hobbit.
Joanna Langfield - The Movie Minute
Thank goodness for Martin Freeman, who makes Bilbo a feeling person & a hobbit. Otherwise, the film is so awed by its technical ingenuity that character and story fade away.
Caryn James - James on screenS
The first chapter of Jackson's new trilogy is decent, if not enirely satisfying, bound to suffer from inevitable comparisons with the superior, Oscar-winning Lord of the Rings.
Emanuel Levy - EmanuelLevy.Com
Not as immediately captivating as the LOTR trilogy, but it's still a return trip to Middle Earth that's well worth taking. Martin Freeman makes a perfect Bilbo, and Ian McKellen is superb (as always).
Chris Bumbray - JoBlo's Movie Emporium
Peter Jackson's return to swords, sorcery and beards deserving of their own postcodes is fantasy how it ought to be.
Matthew Leyland - Total Film
This film is pure excess that's almost definitely motivated by studio greed, but it's light entertainment that will please fans, and Andy Serkis damn-near runs away with the film during his exemplary third-act appearance as Gollum.
Shaun Munro - What Culture
Wild slides into caves, pell-mell chases, absurd cliffhangers and other such "thrill-rides" in 3D give the film a playfulness.
Kirk Honeycutt - honeycuttshollywood.com
Where Jackson might occasionally misstep tonally, he takes the reigns from the episodic original and runs with generally fantastic results through several narrative additions, all of which give the characters more agency in their own affairs.
Shawn Adler - Movieline
Setting aside technological considerations, The Hobbit is nothing short of a joyous homecoming.
Alice Tynan - The Vine
It's not as bad as you feared, but not as good as you hoped.
Peter Jackson's fourth trip to Middle-earth can't quite recapture the greatness, emotional impact or charm of the LOTR films, but there's still much to enjoy about The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey.
Jim Vejvoda - IGN Movies
For now, 'The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey' is a good start, but with the expectations resting on the film, is good going to be good enough?
Drew McWeeny - HitFix
A fresh, free-spirited form of fantasy, Jackson's latest provides a younger generation with a stepping stone to his later films while serving the adult's who want more.
Matt Patches - Hollywood.com
Boasting an appreciably dark tone and a seemingly endless array of visual astonishments, this "Hobbit" suffers from a bit of deja vu.
Tim Grierson - Screen International
Unless your dreams are populated by denizens of Middle Earth, endless footage of them simply talking or walking is a lot less spectacular than Peter Jackson thinks it is.
Jordan Hoffman - ScreenCrush
A briskly engaging adventure shrouded in superfluous detail, though also, yes, admittedly, technical virtuosity, it's an accomplished if unexciting first chapter in the preamble to his Oscar-winning film series.
Todd Gilchrist - Celebuzz
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.
Katey Rich - CinemaBlend.com
The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey is more fun than The Fellowship of the Ring, no doubt about it.
Luke Y. Thompson - Nerdist
Tolkien could invent names and languages, but he couldn't create a plot at gunpoint.
James Rocchi - Boxoffice Magazine
This film stands ably on its own, offering up generous piles of large scale fantasy underscored by genuine emotional heft and boundary-pushing visuals.
Dominic Corry - Flicks.co.nz