Early ‘The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey’ Reviews Are Mixed

Published 2 years ago by , Updated March 3rd, 2014 at 11:58 am,

hobbit unexpected journey reviews Early The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey Reviews Are Mixed

Peter Jackson is a geek-friendly filmmaker who graduated to blockbuster maestro status when he adapted J.R.R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings trilogy more than a decade ago, earning multiple Academy Awards and billions of dollars. He returns to Middle-earth with this month’s The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, which has inspired much in the way of both anticipation and trepidation.

The first wave of professional critic reviews for An Unexpected Journey have hit the ‘Net – but do they confirm everyone’s best hopes, worst fears, or some mix of the two? Scroll on down to find out.

We’ve included informative excerpts from several reviews for the first installment in Jackson’s Hobbit trilogy, which you can peruse through below (note: the film was screened in its native high frame rate 3D format for these journalists and reviewers):



There are several returning artists on the film, like Ian McKellen and Howard Shore and Andrew Lesnie, whose work is every bit as good as it was before, and I think for the most part, “Lord Of The Rings” fans are going to feel like this is a welcome return to Middle Earth. But there are enough uneven qualities this time around that i find myself astonished by the letter grade (B) I’m assigning the film. My hope is that the three films taken together will work better than this one does on its own, and that the pacing issues are not going to be ongoing as the series continues.



“Again and again” is also the film’s biggest issue. On a consistent basis, it’s almost as if Jackson forgets he has two more films to release and is forced to pump the brakes. Tangents pop out of nowhere, dialogue scenes are stretched into infinity, and a familiar structure of capture followed by rousing escape, is consistently repeated… Overall The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey is a lot of fun. Fans of Jackson, Tolkien and the Lord of the Rings films will enjoy it. However, it’s long and uneven, which keeps it from reaching the heights of Jackson’s first three Middle-Earth films.


The Hobbit An Unexpected Journey Bilbos Sword Stinger 570x328 Early The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey Reviews Are Mixed

The Playlist

While it will be too formulaic and familiar to some (and certainly non-fans won’t be won over), ‘The Hobbit’ is another grand achievement from director Peter Jackson. While this distended picture threatens to buckle under the weight of its own self-importantance, Peter Jackson clearly believes he’s earned the right to preamble and make nearly three hour long tent poles each time out of the gate. And the last two acts of ‘The Hobbit’ are simply a non-stop action-adventure rollercoaster that is just as engaging and winning as anything in the director’s previous trilogy.



It takes Jackson a long time to build up a head of steam, but he delivers the goods in this final stretch, which is paralleled by the hitherto ineffectual Bilbo beginning to come into his own as a character. One of Tolkien’s shrewdest strategies in writing The Hobbit and designing it to appeal to both youngsters and adults over the decades was making Bilbo a childlike grown-up who matures and assumes responsibilities he initially perceives are beyond him. Freeman, who at first seems bland in the role, similarly grows into the part, giving hope that the character will continue to blossom in the two forthcoming installments.


The Hobbit Third Film New Title and Release Date Early The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey Reviews Are Mixed

 Boxoffice Magazine

What the 48 frame-per-second projection actually means is flat lighting, a plastic-y look, and, worst of all, a strange sped-up effect that makes perfectly normal actions—say, Martin Freeman’s Bilbo Baggins placing a napkin on his lap—look like meth-head hallucinations… That’s not the only challenge faced by The Hobbit [as] the expectations and filmmaking itself have matured but the storytelling is more juvenile. And where the Rings trilogy had weight, The Hobbit is all wigs and slapstick and head-lopping violence unsuitable for children—who are the only audience who won’t be bored to tears.


Coming Soon

[The] decision to film at a higher frame rate really ruins the movie. You do adjust to it eventually, but almost every scene requires some sort of adjustment and the human brain can’t do that and escape into a fantasy world at the same time… For the most part, the writing and storytelling are there, but the visual decisions make it hard to appreciate any of it especially during the action sequences… It’s almost as if no one involved with making the movie put it up on a screen to see how anything might look, because that’s the only reason why so much of the movie could look so very, very bad.


The Hobbit An Unexpected Journey On the Cliffs 570x296 Early The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey Reviews Are Mixed


The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey has set a high bar for the next two installments, but if the Lord of the Rings trilogy is any indication, I fully believe that bar will be surpassed. Moving forward, I’d like to see the films become a bit more serious, especially since Bilbo is now in possession of a certain ring and all the grave consequences that portends. It would also be a more gradual transition into the Lord of the Rings trilogy and would allow new fans to mature along with the entire six-film arc, much like the Harry Potter films so expertly achieved.



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.


hobbit unexpected journey posters Early The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey Reviews Are Mixed
So, in summation:

  • The 48 frames per second (fps) projection is jarring and distracting.
  • Jackson’s sense of cinematic storytelling has matured on a technical level.
  • Excess dialogue, story tangents and foundation-laying for future installments weaken the first act.
  • Things pick up significantly after the heavy-lifting of the first hour, giving rise to action-packed and thrilling fantasy adventure.

Overall, it sounds as though The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey does indeed suffer from being stretched out to serve as the first chapter in a new trilogy. Nonetheless, it’s good enough to suggest that future installments will improve in terms of pacing and structure – though, that’s not guaranteed, seeing how both the second and third movies could have even more story padding.


Look for Screen Rant‘s official review of The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey when the film opens next week on December 14th.

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  1. “Professional critics,” love nothing more then the sound of their own voice. They (the critics) must find a way to justify their own existence.

    We the “laymen” feel the same way, or we (you and me) would not be here.

    • I honestly an appalled at this latest movie from Jackson. One of the reasons I loved the LOTR movies was because he stuck to the story that all of us loved so much. I hate when a screen writer thinks they can take a literary work and just write things in or out as they please and believe for even a second they are on the same level as the original author especially Tolkien. Seriously, this film not only made me completely against wasting my money watching or purchasing any of these movies, but I even considered getting rid of my LOTR movies which I did enjoy and felt were done with style and a precision that has been missing in the film industry for years. So to Jackson and his screenwriters all of you combined are not even close to the genius Tolkien was nor will you ever be. If you want to do more damage to this novel than you’ve already accomplished pillage on, but if you have a conscience at all you will rethink this rewriting to justify dragging out the story just so you can make a few extra bucks. This novel has already been done as an animation many years ago and sadly even with the advances in the film industry we have today it is a better version than the one these idiots are trying to sell us. What a disappointment and a disgrace to Tolkien’s name and works.

  2. I think what many if not most critics have pointed out is that ‘…An Unexpected Journey’ is just far too long and a little bloated, 169 minutes is a little ridiculous considering the length of the source material, even it Peter Jackson is laying the groundwork for events in the next two films… drop the unnecessary Ian Holm prologue, tighten the scenes in the Shire considerably, tighten up the Riddles scene with Gollum a little more, and certainly tighten up the multiple climactic sequences, and you have a pretty fantastic 140-minute movie there!

  3. People do realize that The Hobbit as a book was much less serious than the LOTR books right?
    If anyone here has read The Hobbit they would know that the book had a light tone throughout. I had read the LOTR books before The Hobbit and even I was taken aback at the pacing of the novel and the childlike narrative.

    The Hobbit was meant to be more of a tale for children’s book as Tolkien himself called it a children’s book. It won an awarded a prize from the New York Herald Tribune for best juvenile fiction for Christ’s sake.

    The movie is all about personal growth and Bilbo’s coming of age. LOTR set the dark nature of the world of Middle Earth, but The Hobbit was nothing more than a tale of the wanderings of a Hobbit and his great adventure. I hope that people realize Hobbits are childlike, if anything else.

    If Peter Jackson has kept the narrative light and far from ‘gritty’ or ‘edgy’ like half the movies that do so without even requiring to, then he has done a good job in staying in sync with the source material, unlike countless other adaptations which have hit the screens lately.

    Seriously a little research of the source material, much less reading the entire book would give you an idea as to how the movie will be.

    Can’t wait to watch The Hobbit on Nov 14th.

    • It’s not the tone that has criticism from some, it’s the length, you have to admit, Akshay dude, 169 minutes is pushing it…

      • Yeah, I hate getting more of what a love. ugh

          • Except, Avengers was too long.

    • it anit no robocop, i can tell you that much, but what film would ever reach that status ever again – long live robocop

  4. *Dec 14

  5. I am assuming that most of you reading this consider JRR Tolkien to be a God among Men, as I do. Do you realize that his (Tolkiens) biggest regret was not making his books longer and more “in-depth.”

    Peter Jackson, is the author of The New Testament.

  6. So is it just the length in general that’s the problem or just the length in terms with the length of the book. Because i will point out that The Dark Knight Rises was just 5 or so minutes shorter than this and there wasn’t much problem, if any, with that. Granted I obviously haven’t seen The Hobbit yet but I have faith in what Peter Jackson has done. I don’t think he would have spent this many years of his life in Middle Earth, adapting J.R.R Tolkien’s masterpieces just to give us, the audience, anything less than extraordinary. Maybe when the next chapter of the film releases next year these ‘unnecessary’ scenes in the movie will make sense.

  7. I like long movies. I’m a Tolkien fan. Bilbo was my favorite character in the LOTR mythos.
    No complains over the length. Excited to see what Peter Jackson will make of the third installment with all the additional info that he is adding to bridge the gab between where The Hobbit ends and LOTR begins.

  8. I wonder how many of these reviewer’s read the book before seeing the movie, because to review this right you really need to.

  9. It could be a let down. Not everything is perfect, some things are better than others and some not so much.

    I’ll go in with an open mind and hope I’m satisfied

  10. I started rereading the book the other day. I’m a slow sporadic reader and I’m almost finished with it already (love the book BTW). I think it’s ridiculous that there is more than one movie for this book. Peter Jackson is being given all the rope he wants. He can’t edit himself, and the studios are too happy to write checks for him.

    There are plenty of “epic” movies that tell large stories, feel full, almost leave you exhausted (in a good way), and are around 2-3 hours long. What the heck is there that needs to be told that requires multiple movies? What? Okay, I can see maybe making the connection between Sauron and the Necromancer. But couldn’t it be just a very good hint? You know, for the observant fan? But what else needs to be here? Do we need to be told that the ring is evil at this point? In the book it’s just a really cool, awesome magic ring. But do we need the extreme close-ups and foreboding music? No. We don’t need to be told that Sauron is bad, that Sauruman was good. None of it. Oh, I’ve read much of the appendices too. Not much Hobbit stuff. PJ doesn’t have the rights to unfinished tales so he’s really going to have to tip-toe around the “tales of Erbenor (or whatever).” Although maybe we’ll be treated to Samwise’s campaign for mayor of the Shire (really, can’t tell Bilbo’s story without that detail). Seriously, what is going to be revealed that actually needs to be? That hasn’t already been made clear in LOTR? I’d like someone to try to answer this admittedly rhetorical question. I realize that there are many Tolkien enthusiasts who will never be happy no matter how much detail is added, and would love nothing better than a continuous real-time version of all the books running 24 hours a day for the next 1000 years. But I’m asking, from the movie standpoint, what needs to be told here?

    I’ll see the movie. I probably won’t see it multiple times like I did LOTR, and I doubt I’ll ever buy them.

    I own the extended LOTR. I enjoy them, but I think the movies would have suffered a bit from the extensions. I like the lighter tone of the Hobbit book. I would be all for talking animals even (explain it as the world being less dark at the time). So I’m all for the actual book. And yes, I haven’t seen the movie.

    I predict this is going to fizzle along, but “the thrill is gone.” It won’t be as bad as the SW prequels, but that’s not saying a lot (and I wanted those so bad at the time). It’s a shame. One great movie would have been satisfying and left us wanting a little more.

    • what a wank comment. Why cant you just watch it for what it is, ive read the book and seen the film. Both are great – everyones a critic these days but theres only on peter jackson and he nailed it in my opinion.
      Have a little fun for christs sakes

      • Nailed it? Really cuz obviously you didn’t see it in it’s intended 48fps. Literally ruined the movie.
        Looks like a made for tv film with great special effects

  11. The critics need to realize that “An Unexpected Journey” is not a stand-alone film with sequels. It is merely the first volume of a much bigger story. The first hour may seem slow, but when you consider that it and the other hobbit movies make up ONE story, the “three act structure” falls into place perfectly.

  12. whatever. I learned to ignore “professional critics” a long time ago. If i based what i was going to go see on their opinions, then i wouldn’t have seen a fraction of the movies i have. See what what you want to see, like what you want to like. Don’t let someone else’s opinion influence your own, especially if it’s from someone who spouts their opinion for a living.

    • That was an amazing paragraph and awe inspiring! I for one loved the hobbit and was excited when I heard it was going to be a movie BUT I think a 169 min. is a little long considering they are splitting it into three movies. I am still looking forward to it but am worried too.

  13. Boohoo. They whine more than Anakin.


  14. well,there goes the oscars

  15. looks fake , like watching an upscale of an old BBC show form the 80′s, or a god awful soap-opera!

    • what a hip comment. Film was fine, fx were great – not as good as what you could do of course. But i always appreciate an over used not so witty comment tied in with an explanation mark, you rock

    • Totally agree. f****** frame rate was the worst decision ever PJ!!!
      Didn’t mind the length or the other flaws mentioned, big fan of the books and the LOTR films, but to make a 270 million
      Movie that actually looks cheap, WOW

  16. The plot was thin because it was replaced with special effects. Special effects are great, but it appears like a child viewing candy through a window Jackson is spell-bound by visuals and fails to tell a story that will hold your interest. At 2:50 minutes long it felt 2 hours too long. The story in a nutshell…The set-up, hike/fight (repeat many times)see distant mountain, end movie.

  17. It has nothing to do with professional critics being professional or not. Its just not a good film by any objective measure. It has some good special effects and production, but a good film that does not make.

    Its very simple. Peter Jackson has huge conflicts of interest now. I’m sure he built up relationships with many people during the long production of the lord of the rings, these films also support his weta computer graphics production company, in other words he’s like george lucas if there were no other game in town. You are seeing a filmmaker with conflicts of interest most do not have, his priority is to keep his machine running, stretching out the films at the cost of story or quality is not a concern to him anymore apparently, he is probably consumed with the every day working of his factory, or he’s just learned to rationalize anything to keep his factory fed with fuel as long as possible, its not about the film anymore….

    The material was never that great to begin with anyways, there is a misplaced reverence for the books that keeps people from critical assessment of the series. They are filled with deus ex machina and other arbitrary nonsense that just prevents any emotional investment in the story. A lot of the films is just going through the motions of fan service, its empty spectacle, and with the lavish praise for the material much of the time I feel like I’m watching the emperor with no clothes.