THE HOBBIT: AN UNEXPECTED JOURNEY // Visually enthralling, grandiosely captivating, “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey” proves that fans are safe with Peter Jackson at the helm of Middle-earth. Martin Freeman is by far the most enjoyable portion of the film, with the look and charisma to deftly carry this latest Tolkien franchise, as lead Bilbo Baggins, while returning faces like Ian McKellen as Gandalf, along with several other familiar faces, help keep the film on par with its predecessors from “The Lord Of The Rings”. The adventure is grand enough, the villains are once again developed, Howard Shore’s score is an unequivocal achievement, and with several key scenes contained in the frames of this particular film, including the return of Gollum, this first film in the trilogy sets the bar fairly high for the forthcoming films. Of course, “The Hobbit” still falters, mainly in its overabundance of CGI, relying too heavily on graphics over practical effects. Also, in its widely publicized high frame rate, the effect leaves much to be desired, with fast motions coming off strange to the eye, and although there are several scenes where the higher frame rate looks impressive, mostly sweeping shots, it is not worth the time spent “adjusting” to its differences. We can only hope this is a passing fad.
[Directed by Peter Jackson] [PG-13] [169 min] [14 December 2012]