The Hobbit is a greater technical achievement than its predecessors (or successors really), but nowhere near matching their depth of story.
The visuals are often so detailed and sharp that they take on a distinctly unreal quality, which may be the point, like the best looking video game ever made. The rock giant battle is easily one of the most spectacular scenes in computer effects history, and even the Great Goblin’s jowls are quite nice, in an entirely horrible way.
Yet the strong visuals also lead to the film’s greatest weakness: length. There is easily an hour of musical numbers, slow motion and New Zealand glamour shots that could be cut.
As well, even with three hours, few of the characters are established beyond those we already know. Peter Jackson clearly stretched to make The Hobbit last this long, let’s hope it isn’t pulled so thin that the next two films become transparent. [subscribe2]