After winning a generation over with what simply is one of the best fantasy trilogies ever, Peter Jackson decided to make live-action movies out of J.R.R. Tolkien’s book The Hobbit. Though many question as to why they would stretch out the small tale into three films, audiences this week will return to Middle Earth in The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey. But what do the critics think about it? Obviously there’s the controversy that surrounds Peter Jackson’s use of 48 frames per second, but aside from that, is An Unexpected Journey worth checking out? We weigh in on what the critics think in our latest review round-up.

The Good:

  • “With the weight of all this stuff weighing on the future assessor of the movie before the lights have even gone down, how does “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey” finally play? I’d have to say pretty well, if you like this sort of thing.” [Glenn Kenny - MSN Movies]
  • “All good stories deserve embellishment,’’ proclaims Gandalf the Grey early on in Peter Jackson’s “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey’’ — in what’s amounts to a mission statement for this rewarding, if long-winded, $270 million epic.” [Lou Lumenick - The NY Post]

The Decent:

  • “But once you do accept the difference in look, and tone, “The Hobbit” becomes what it was originally meant to be – not a cut-from-the-same-cloth prequel, but its own, individual thing.” [Stephen Whitty - Newark Star-Ledger]

The Bad:

  • “The Lord of the Rings films were by no means perfect, but there was an animated spirit behind them that took you along for the ride. You had a great adventure, huge stakes, and memorable characters. By trying to fit The Hobbit into that mold, it unfortunately shows the limitations of the source material, and why this probably shouldn’t have been done. This doesn’t have a life or death central concern, it is done in a much lower and goofy key than the other trilogy, and here there’s not a lot of characters to latch on to.” [Damon Houx - ScreenCrave]
  • “An Unexpected Journey” can’t be seen as anything but a disappointment, a dreary, episodic series of lumbering walk-talk-fight sequences that often looks less like genuine cinema than a large-scale video game, its high-def aesthetic and mushy close-ups perfectly suited to its presumed end-use on a living room wall or iPhone.” [Ann Hornaday - The Washington Post]
  • “What bothers me more than this experiment is the bloated nature of the storytelling on display. Why has a single book been expanded to three films? Or, to quote an old World War II catchphrase; was this trip really necessary? More is not better. More is simply more, in this case.” [Leonard Maltin - Leonard Maltin's Movie Crazy]
  • “There’s no denying the majesty in Peter Jackson’s visuals but he’s taken a relatively slim children’s book and stretched it beyond the limits.” [Richard Roeper - Richard Roeper & The Movies]

Overall:

When you’re digging through Rotten Tomatoes and even the supposedly “fresh” reviews are lukewarm at best, you know something’s definitely not sitting right with critics about The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey. Critics just aren’t falling in love with it like they did with The Lord of the Rings trilogy, and for many reasons. There’ll be plenty of fans who will flock to movie theaters to see this, but will it be good enough in their eyes to run back into theaters for the second and third installment? We’ll just have to wait and see.

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey is out in theaters now.

Will you watch The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey in 3D or 2D? 24 or 48fps?