"The Hobbit" underwhelms critics in early reviews

Tue Dec 4, 2012 7:09pm EST
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By Piya Sinha-Roy

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - The long-awaited film "The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey" got a mixed response in early reviews on Tuesday, with some critics deeming it dull and over-detailed, and others disappointed by its new take on 3D technology.

"An Unexpected Journey," the first of three cinematic installments from Oscar-winning director Peter Jackson of J.R.R. Tolkien's fantasy novel "The Hobbit," took more than a decade to bring to fruition.

"An Unexpected Journey," which will open around the world next week, is estimated to rake in a bumper $137 million in its opening weekend in North America. Jackson turned his "Lord of the Rings" trilogy from 2001-2003 into a $3 billion box-office hit worldwide.

But with a running time of three hours and nine minutes, the first "Hobbit" movie was overly long for some critics' tastes, according to early reviews.

TheWrap.com's Leah Rozen said that although fans of the books will "doubtless love this movie," the film is "ambitiously epic and visually inventive, (but) it's neither as engrossing nor exhilarating as the first time around with 'Rings.'"

Variety's Peter DeBruge criticized Jackson for adding a "mythologically dense, computer-generated-heavy prologue" that was devised outside of Tolkien's original narrative.

"For the sake of spectacle, this unnecessary pre-title sequence recalls set pieces from the second and third "Lord of the Rings" movies, as if to assure fans they can expect more of the same," DeBruge said.

Todd McCarthy of The Hollywood Reporter said the film makers "have created a purist's delight" by translating "every comma, period and semicolon in the first six chapters" of the book.   Continued...

A fan holds up a sign upon the cast members' arrival at the Japan premiere of the movie 'The Hobbit - An Unexpected Journey' in Tokyo December 1, 2012. REUTERS/Issei Kato