Those expecting the grandeur of "Lord of the Rings" from Peter Jackson's "The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey" (the first of a new prequel trilogy) will be disappointed. But that's not to say the ride isn't enjoyable once you get used to the 48fps in 3-D. Were I to sit through the nearly three-hour film again, I'd take good old fashioned 24fps and 2-D. Once Bilbo Baggins (a perfect Martin Freeman), Gandalf and the many dwarves are off on their journey (after a rough start) the adventure does pull you in with some spectacular visuals and some quality time with Andy Serkis' show-stealing Gollum. What I missed most: Viggo Mortensen's Aragorn.
Also arriving in theaters this weekend is gay custody drama "Any Day Now" with Alan Cumming, "Stand Up Guys" with Al Pacino, Christopher Walken and Alan Arkin (in a limited pre-release) and a handful of other indies. Check out reviews and trailers below. More reviews at Criticwire and Movie Review Intelligence.
"The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey" Dir. Peter Jackson, USA/New Zealand | Warners Bros. | Cast: Martin Freeman, Ian McKellen, Cate Blanchett | 66% Fresh | NYT: "Tolkien's inventive, episodic tale of a modest homebody on a dangerous journey has been turned into an overscale and plodding spectacle." Variety: "Fulfilling just a fraction of J.R.R. Tolkien's 'There and Back Again' subtitle, The Hobbit alternately rewards and abuses auds' appetite for all things Middle-earth."
"Any Day Now" Dir. Travis Fine, USA | Music Box | Cast: Alan Cumming, Garret Dillahunt | 89% Fresh | Detroit News: "There's no denying the power of Cumming, Leyva and Dillahunt's performances, nor the tragedy and injustice of the situation."
"Save the Date" Dir. Michael Mohan, USA | IFC Films | Cast: Lizzy Caplan, Alison Brie, Martin Starr, Mark Webber | 41% Rotten | Film School Rejects: "Despite a strong comedic cast, the film isn't particularly funny. Save the Date is a typical Sundance romance that doesn't ever set itself apart from its brethren."
"Stand up Guys" Dir. Fisher Stevens, USA | Lionsgate | Cast: Al Pacino, Christopher Walken, Alan Arkin, Julianna Margulies, Mark Margolis | 42% Rotten | NYT: "Most of the modest pleasures are in the ways the men expertly play off one another and invest their shallow characters with more depth than any filmmaker could reasonably expect."