What other reviewers are saying about “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey”:
(Director Peter Jackson’s) first installment of “The Hobbit,” Tolkien’s relatively slim precursor to the sprawling “Rings” saga, is a technically impressive but bloated adventure that feels every one of its 169 minutes. Outside the circle of the many Tolkien obsessives, the film – whose full title is “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey” – is going to strike many as a “Rings” retread.
— Cary Darling, Fort Worth Star-Telegram
If you plan to enjoy “The Hobbit,” it really helps to love dwarves. Others may prefer hobbits – they’re adorably idiosyncratic, small, chubby, eat all day, have big ears, and they’re incredibly sincere. Still others may prefer the Olympian elves – beautiful, pristine, sure and eternal. But there is only one hobbit in the entire movie, and only one brief sequence involving elves. Otherwise you’re stuck with the dwarves, who are like Vikings – boarish, slovenly, hearty and heavy-drinking – and not exactly lovable. ...
... Occasionally, when the smoke clears, we get a glimpse of what “The Hobbit” might have been, had Freeman’s quirkiness and humanity been given a chance to set the tone. The movie really only springs to life when Freeman dominates, as when Bilbo walks into a cave and discovers Gollum, looking like James Carville but acting like Peter Lorre. It’s an encounter worthy of the “Lord of the Rings” trilogy – so is the all-too brief scene between Gandalf and Galadriel (Cate Blanchett).
— Mick LaSalle, San Francisco Chronicle
“The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey” is not the worst film of the year, but it may be the most disappointing. Given the scope and grandeur of Peter Jackson’s “Lord of the Rings” epics, we enter the theater justifiably expecting his new Tolkien adventure to thrill our socks off. Instead, you endure this monstrously overproduced misfire with the numb apathy of a prisoner slowly throwing a ball against a cell wall.
— Colin Covert, (Minneapolis) Star Tribune