When I’m not in the bathroom painting the porcelain canvas, I’m waging war with the Cyclops. But while Jackson’s adaptation of J.R.R. Tolkien’s famous novel lacks one-eyed beasts, it’s no doubt masturbatory. From a meandering script (conceived by Fran Walsh, Philippa Boyens, Jackson, and Guillermo del Toro) that doesn’t stick to a single body of Tolkien’s fantasy porn collection — referencing other works to “pad out” the world — to the decision to shoot in 48fps (frames per second), The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey isn’t a quickie. It’s a ceremonious nut to how Peter managed to flip three feature-lengths from one 300 page book. And after his last directorial work, “The Lovely Bones,” was panned, it’s no wonder he’s overcompensating.
On the technical preference, Jackson explained “It’s less eye strain and you have a sharper picture, which creates more of a three-dimensional world.” He then added, “48 does make for a smoother experience.” Unfortunately, if your movie looks like shit, it doesn’t matter how smoothly it runs. At best, The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey plays like cheap video game cut-scenes; other times, it floats on bad BBC soap waters. With dated, plasticky sets and cliché character designs, Peter makes this one of the finest breakthroughs in the art of bad filmmaking. Thanks to his frame rate experimentation, quieter scenes fare better than the actiony ones, which are viciously cartoony. As a rule though, each shot is drowned in Instagram-esque filters. It’s like watching a nature documentary from the ‘70s — bad dramatizations attached.
For the clueless, The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey chronicles Bilbo Baggins (Martin Freeman), a small-bodied gentleman comfortable with his ordinary life. The great wizard Gandalf (Ian McKellen), however, sees there is more to Bilbo than Bilbo sees himself. To help reach his full potential, the spell-meister volunteers the Hobbit to join a quest led by Thorin Oakenshield (Richard Armitage), a legendary warrior, to reclaim the lost Dwarf Kingdom of Erebor from the dragon Smaug. With twelve other dwarves, they embark on a journey through Middle-earth, where trolls, goblins, and Orcs clash dicks for supremacy.
One can nitpick, but the movie’s few successes are warm bath fantastic. McKellen’s performance as Gandalf bubbles up your soul, while Freeman’s Bilbo is scented candles likable. Armitage’s rough turn as Thorin compliments them both. For fans of the “Lord of the Rings” trilogy, Elijah Wood’s Frodo also has a short cameo. And if that doesn’t satisfy you, Andy Serkis splashes by as Gollum — another favorite. Nine years after “The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King,” the actor still steals the show without showing his face. The fascinating scene Bilbo and Gollum share is one of the rare moments where the film isn’t a pruned finger.
Overall, The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, the first installment of Jackson’s “The Hobbit” prequel trilogy is indeed an unexpected journey. For the director and his faithful devoted, it’s a trek down a marsh of mediocrity; to me, it began an adventure into my bathroom for an inspired review.