The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey gets mixed reviews from critics

Actor Andy Serkis as Gollum Actor Andy Serkis plays Gollum in The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey

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Film critics have given a mixed response to The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey by director Peter Jackson, who also brought Lord of the Rings to the big screen.

The Hobbit is the first of three instalments based on the novel by JRR Tolkien.

The film, which is just under three hours long, was given two stars by the Telegraph.

Robbie Collin described it as "so stuffed with extraneous faff and flummery that it often barely feels like Tolkien at all - more a dire, fan-written internet tribute".

Still from The Hobbit Martin Freeman stars as Bilbo Baggins in the films

"The stuffing is required because Jackson and Warner Bros have divided Tolkien's fairly short story into three incredibly long films, which will mean vastly inflated box office revenues at the small cost of artistic worth and entertainment," he said.

The Guardian said that the duration of the film will test audiences. Peter Bradshaw gave it three out of five.

"So Tolkien's gentle tale is going to be a triple box-office bonanza, occupying the same amount of space as the mighty Rings epic, an effect achieved by pumping up the confrontations, opening out the back story and amplifying the ambient details, like zooming in on a Google Middle Earth," said Bradshaw.

Bradshaw said he felt the 3D effects gave the film a "much higher definition and smoother movement effect".

Start Quote

Huge, snarling dogs and a chase sequence involving a wizard played by Sylvester McCoy being pulled by a sledge of super-nimble rabbits add some bite to the storytelling.”

End Quote Geoffrey MacNab The Independent film critic

In the scenes filmed outdoors in New Zealand, Bradshaw added that the high frame rate style had "immediacy and glitter" and brought "an almost documentary realism to the fable".

"Indoors though, it's not quite the same story," he said.

The Times gave the film four stars.

Kate Muir said Jackson's decision to shoot in 48-frames per second 3D technology as opposed to the traditional 24, gave the film lurid clarity.

"The 3D is so relentless that my eyes watered from two hours on," she said.

Geoffrey MacNab, writing in The Independent, also gave the film three stars, saying there was a "sense of sledgehammers being used to crack nuts" in the first part of the trilogy.

"For all the sound and fury, not a great deal actually happens in this initial episode.

Prince William spoke to stars of the Hobbit, but his wife Catherine stayed at home

But MacNab praised Jackson's "flair for action sequences and bold and complex production design".

"Huge, snarling dogs and a chase sequence involving a wizard played by Sylvester McCoy being pulled by a sledge of super-nimble rabbits add some bite to the storytelling," he added.

Critics praised Martin Freeman's performance as Bilbo Baggins, with Bradshaw saying he was "just right for the role", which he played with "understatement and charm".

Empire Online, which gave the film four stars agreed, saying Sherlock star Freeman was "perfect casting" for Baggins.

There was also acclaim for Andy Serkis who returned as Gollum, with the Telegraph saying he "steals the entire show".

The Daily Mail said Jackson had not achieved the "cinematic triumph" which he did with The Lord of the Rings.

"If you're hoping for another masterpiece, you'll need to lower your expectations," said Chris Tookey, who described The Hobbit as "unduly long and overblown".

"The good news is that within that overall failure are many successful elements: funny scenes, thrilling action, pathos, good acting and inventive direction," he added.

"The movie offers moments of enchantment and ends with spectacular action sequences that augur well for the next two films."

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey is released in the UK on 13 December.

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