Hobbit breaks Tolkien lover's heart

Last updated 11:05 10/12/2012

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Critics have started weighing in on The Hobbit, with the length and look of the film in full-focus.

One critic, Daily Telegraph writer Robbie Collin, claimed The Hobbit not only bored him rigid, but broke his heart as a lover of Tolkien.

The writer launched a scathing review of Sir Peter Jackson's take on The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey.

Using a phrase from JRR Tolkein to describe Bilbo Baggins' world-weariness, Collin said the film is "like butter that has been scraped over too much bread".

"The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey barely leaves the driveway," he wrote for The Telegraph.

"The film lasts for 11 minutes short of three hours, and takes us to the end of chapter six in Tolkien's original novel, which falls on page 130 of the official movie tie-in edition."

He said it works out to be around half an hour per chapter, and one minute and 20 seconds per page.

Furthermore, he said splitting the story into three "incredibly long" films will mean more cash at the box office, but will come at the cost of artistic worth and entertainment.

 "This film is so stuffed with extraneous faff and flummery that it often barely feels like Tolkien at all - more a dire, fan-written internet tribute."

Collin also expressed distaste at shooting the film at 48 frames per second rather than 24 - the industry standard.

He said the intention was for this effect to make the film look smoother, but it just makes everything look fake.

"The unintended side effect is that the extra visual detail gives the entire film a sickly sheen of fakeness: the props look embarrassingly proppy and the rubber noses look a great deal more rubbery than nosey," he said.

"I was reminded of the BBC's 1988 production of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, and not in a good way."

Sir Peter Jackson has said 48 frames per second is the way of the future, and it may look unusual at first because it is something people have never experienced before.

The only aspect of the film to please Collin was Andy Serkis' performance as Gollum.

On the other hand, a film critic for The Guardian said if there is anyone who can make the audience love the "epically supercharged" film, it is Peter Jackson.

Though Peter Bradshaw also dubs the film "whoppingly long", he also said the film is on track to reach the same acclaim as the Lord of the Rings.

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He said it will be a "triple box-office bonanza", achieved by "pumping up the confrontations, opening out the backstory and amplifying the ambient details, like zooming in on a Google Middle Earth."

Bradshaw said the look of the film, though smoother and much more high definition, looks like television.

"Before you grow accustomed to this, it feels as if there has been a terrible mistake in the projection room and they are showing us the video location report from the DVD "making of" featurette, rather than the actual film," he said.

"Well, it grows on you. The HFR style has immediacy and glitter, particularly in the outdoor locations, where the New Zealand landscapes, in all their splendour, are revealed more sharply and clearly, and there is an almost documentary realism to the fable."

He said by the end of the 170 minutes, he had had enough of a good thing, and that the trilogy could test the stamina of the non-fanatics.

- © Fairfax NZ News

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