Entertainment Entertainment Movies

'The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey' review: Also known as 'A Long Way to Go'

*1/2 (out of four)

After the 12 endings that wrapped up 2003’s Best Picture-winning “The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King,” Peter Jackson could have parted with J.R.R. Tolkien adaptations and gone out on top.

Alas. The director/co-writer instead decided to take Tolkien’s “Rings” predecessor, “The Hobbit,” and turn the 300-page children’s story into another big-screen trilogy totaling approximately 7,000 hours. At least that’s how one feels sitting through part one of “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey,” a nearly three-hour slog in which what was once—especially in the first “Rings” installment, “The Fellowship of the Ring”—a world to get lost in now provides only reasons to space out.

In a prologue as entertaining as watching the last bits of ketchup drip out of the bottle, Bilbo Baggins (Ian Holm) works on writing the story of his early years to Frodo (Elijah Wood), even though Frodo’s right there and would probably sit down happily to hear the tale. No, Bilbo instead pens the tale about when he was 60 years younger (and played by Martin Freeman) and Gandalf came to his house and, to paraphrase, basically said, “You used to be cool and fun. You’re not anymore. Come help me help these dwarves as they quest to reclaim their kingdom from a dragon.” Rather than saying, “Why did they walk so far from their old place if they were planning to return?” a muttering Bilbo first declines then finally accepts, though he’s the sort of fuddy-duddy who wants to turn back because he forgot his handkerchief.

Aside from a riddle challenge between Bilbo and Gollum (Andy Serkis), what follows is familiar in the worst way. Jackson stages the same ol’ epic battles and mountaintop trudging without any fresh material that engages. Worse, the new 48-frames-per-second technology makes the fussy, comedically embarrassing “Journey” look like it’s a computer game on fast-forward.

Middle Earth has lost its wonder, and the fantasy characters now just wander. The film does demonstrate that Orcs hyphenate the term “Dwarf-scum.” This may be something we’ve seen before, but at this point Jackson gives no reason to separate a Fili from a Kili or a goblin from a necromancer or whatever.

Watch Matt on “You & Me This Morning,” Friday at 6:55 a.m. on WCIU, the U

mpais@tribune.com

 

Want more? Discuss this article and others on RedEye's Facebook page.

 

Copyright © 2015, RedEye
Related Content
  • Matt Pais' 20 best movies of 2012
    Matt Pais' 20 best movies of 2012

    Click here for Matt's Bottom 20 of 2012     Watch Matt on “You & Me This Morning,” Friday at 6:55 a.m. on WCIU, the U mpais@tribune.com   Want more? Discuss this article and others on RedEye's Facebook page.  

  • 12 underrated movies from 2012
    12 underrated movies from 2012

    Click here for Matt Pais' Top 20 of 2012 Click here for Matt's Bottom 20 of 2012     Watch Matt on “You & Me This Morning,” Friday at 6:55 a.m. on WCIU, the U mpais@tribune.com   Want more? Discuss this article and others on RedEye's Facebook page.  

  • Meeting draws sharp debate over dog ban at Maggie Daley Park
    Meeting draws sharp debate over dog ban at Maggie Daley Park

    More than 200 people crowded into a Loop meeting to sound off about the Chicago Park District's decision to ban dogs from the recently opened Maggie Daley Park.

  • 1 killed, 2 wounded in South Side shootings
    1 killed, 2 wounded in South Side shootings

    One man was killed, and two others were wounded in shootings Tuesday afternoon and evening in the city's Park Manor, Bronzeville and Morgan Park neighborhoods.

  • City lists 'problem landlords' on website
    City lists 'problem landlords' on website

    Chicago's Building Department published its first "problem landlords" list on its website Monday night in an attempt to crack down and publicly shame apartment building owners into providing tenants with basic services such as heat, hot water and working smoke and carbon monoxide detectors.

  • Chicago brothers who infiltrated cartel given 14 years in prison
    Chicago brothers who infiltrated cartel given 14 years in prison

    After more than six years in protective custody, the twin brothers from Chicago's West Side didn't look the part of hard-core drug traffickers when they walked into a public courtroom Tuesday for the first time since flipping on the notoriously violent Sinaloa cartel.

Comments
Loading