The first batch of international reviews for the Hobbit are out, and they are tepid.
The website rottentomatoes.com, which rates movies by weighing up available reviews, had taken 23 reviews to give the film a 78 per cent positive rating.
This compares to between 92 and 96 per cent for each of the three Lord of the Rings movies, which also had the benefit of many more reviews and second viewings.
Of the three ''top reviewers'' on the Rotten Tomatoes site, The Hobbit didn't fare well.
In Variety, Peter Debruge says the movie ''rewards and abuses'' audiences' appetite.
While it had positives - adherence to the Rings trilogy, impressive computer graphics, and consistency with the tone of The Hobbit books - it was too long, with too many subplots.
''While Peter Jackson's prequel to The Lord of the Rings delivers more of what made his earlier trilogy so compelling - colorful characters on an epic quest amid stunning New Zealand scenery - it doesn't offer nearly enough novelty to justify the three-film, nine-hour treatment, at least on the basis of this overlong first instalment, dubbed An Unexpected Journey.
David Germain from Associated Press praised and criticised the film's technical wizardry and the decision to shoot it at twice the normal frame rate.
''The result is some eye candy that truly dazzles and some that utterly distracts,'' he commented.
The story itself suffered from the decision to split the book into three movies.
''Let's hope Jackson has the goods to improve on a so-so start. Otherwise, The Hobbit - subtitled There and Back Again by Tolkien - is going to feel like travelling the same road more than twice.''
In Hollywood Reporter, Todd McCarthy said while the movie was ''a bit of a slog'', box office success was all but certain.
''There has almost certainly never been an adaptation of a novel more studiously, scrupulously and strenuously faithful as Peter Jackson's film of JRR Tolkien's The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey.
''Spending nearly three hours of screen time to visually represent every comma, period and semicolon in the first six chapters of the perennially popular 19-chapter book, Jackson and his colleagues have created a purist's delight, something the millions of die-hard fans of his Lord of the Rings trilogy will gorge upon.''
The technical aspects of the film were commended by McCarthy.
By contrast, the first of the Rings movies, Fellowship of the Ring, was largely praised by Variety and Hollywood Reporter, the latter of which said: ''[The film] rarely takes a wrong turn in its fairly faithful adaptation of the first Rings book ... [It is] quite masterfully paced and one of those rewarding movies that seems to get better and better as it progresses.''
While Variety's review was largely glowing for Fellowship, it was critical of the film's ''then, and then, and then'' narrative.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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