‘The Hobbit’: A bit much for an adaptation of a simple children’s story

Bilbo Baggins (Martin Freeman) is the odd hobbit out while traveling with a band of dwarves in “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey.”

Peter Jackson applies the same level of grandeur and heft to his adaptation of J.R.R. Tolkein’s “The Hobbit” that he did to his previous triumph, “The Lord of the Rings” trilogy. The problem is the source material for the new film — shot in 3-D at a doubled speed of 48 frames per second — doesn’t deserve such epic scope. But more on that in a moment.

First, the technical: Jackson bets the lot on 48 frames per second, and he loses. Before your eyes adjust to the higher frame rate, everything seems to be moving too fast. Once it’s settled down, though, the footage often looks somewhere between a super-high definition 1980s BBC miniseries and a video game, and it just feels utterly un-cinematic. The biggest crime, though, is that the sweeping shots of the gorgeous New Zealand landscape look fake.

As for the content of the film, “The Hobbit” has the same fine acting, cinematography and art direction of “The Lord of the Rings” films — but much more of the bloat. This is the first of three films adapted from a single slim volume, and it’s nearly three hours long. What should be a lighthearted children’s story — a Hobbit (Martin Freeman) helping a band of dwarves outwit a dragon — is instead presented as if the entire fate of Middle Earth were at stake. And Jackson milks every opportunity to remind the viewer that this story precedes the “Rings” trilogy, even souring the movie’s best scene — featuring a phenomenal appearance by Gollum (Andy Serkis) — with an overwrought, foreshadowing ending. It’s a bad habit running through the film that grows tedious. Perhaps like George Lucas with the “Star Wars” prequels, Jackson’s success with his first trilogy meant consequently that there was no one to tell him something might not be a good idea in the next. In any event, we’ve got nearly six more hours of “The Hobbit” left to find out.



If you go


   

‘The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey’

Director: Peter Jackson

Cast: Martin Freeman, Ian McKellen, Andy Serkis

Rating: PG-13

Grade: 3/5



News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
National

Ex-Bitcoin official to plead guilty to Silk Road…

Bitcoin entrepreneur Charlie Shrem has reached a plea deal to resolve U.S. charges that he engaged in a scheme to sell over $1 million of…

International

China's army changes tactics to prepare for war…

Chinese President Xi Jinping has said China will spur military innovation and called on the army to create a new strategy for "information warfare" as…

National

California passes 'yes-means-yes' campus sexual assault bill

Californian lawmakers passed a law on Thursday requiring universities to adopt "affirmative consent" language in their definitions of consensual sex, part of a nationwide drive to curb sexual assault on…

National

Syrian refugees top 3 million, half of all…

By Stephanie NebehayGENEVA (Reuters) - Three million Syrian refugees will have registered in neighboring countries as of Friday, but many remain trapped by the advance…

Movies

What's new on Netflix in September

September has a supernatural theme for Netflix. UFO "documentaries" and the survivalist reality series "Doomsday Preppers" are among the new series coming to the online…

Going Out

'Friends' coffeehouse Central Perk coming to NYC —…

"Friends" is coming back for a one-off special: "The One with the Free Coffee." Warner Bros. is bringing a pop-up replica of Central Perk, the…

Movies

Interview: 'As Above, So Below' directors: 5 ways…

The fraternal directors of the found footage horror "As Above, So Below" dish on the best ways to frighten the bejesus out of audiences.

Movies

Criterion's new Jacques Demy box mixes the light…

Jacques Demy, the most effervescent of French New Wave filmmakers, gets a Criterion box all to himself, with classics like "The Umbrellas of Cherbourg."

NFL

3 things we learned in the Giants preseason…

The final score didn’t matter — a 16-13 win by the Giants — but it would’ve been nice to finally see Big Blue’s new-look offense get on track.

NFL

NFL Power Rankings: Seahawks, Broncos, Patriots, 49ers start…

NFL Power Rankings: Seahawks, Broncos, Patriots start at top

U.S. Soccer

5 facts about new England captain Wayne Rooney

Manchester United striker Wayne Rooney was named as the new England captain by coach Roy Hodgson on Thursday.

NFL

Jets vs. Eagles: 3 things to watch

A win on Thursday night at the Eagles would give the Jets a 3-1 record and just their second winning preseason under head coach Rex Ryan.

Food

Twitter used to track down sources of food…

When Chicago health officials saw Twitter users complaining about local food poisoning episodes, they reached out on Twitter to those users and often ended up…

Style

Trend: White hot on the 2014 Emmy's red…

White was one of the big trends on the Emmy's red carpet.

Food

Recipe: Samuel Adams beer-marinated grilled shrimp

Summer calls for two things: a cold beer and light food. Sam Adams' Latitude 48 IPA fairly bursts with citrus notes, making it an ideal marinade…

Wellbeing

4 healthy ingredient swaps to make your meals…

When it comes to eating well, everyone knows they could be doing better. But cooking in an apartment on a busy schedule is a recipe…