The first thirty minutes of The Hobbit were the most disconcerting for me. I saw the 48 frames-per-second version and it has a hyperrealistic look that reminds me of a Mexican soap opera. That impression fades once the film becomes more sweeping in scope, but it continues to nag. Unfortunately, much of the script nags as well. Expository scenes, like Bilbo’s surprise dinner date with the dwarves, drag on for too long without doing much to advance the plot. Jackson also devises several scenes that are meant to foretell the events of The Lord of the Rings trilogy. These are interesting, but again, they seem like unnecessary padding.
The movie offers many fine action set-pieces and breathtaking vistas, but it simply doesn’t have the same narrative heft of the trilogy. The few agile and compelling scenes (like the battle of wits between Bilbo and Gollum) are outnumbered by cumbersome and self-indulgent. Let’s hope Jackson regains his footing in the next installment.