LOS ANGELES—According to early reviews, the highly anticipated new film The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, which opens in theaters Friday, features an extended 53-minute-long scene in which the protagonist, Bilbo Baggins, decides on what to pack for his trip to defeat the evil dragon Smaug.
The film, one of three upcoming Lord Of The Rings prequels based on the novel by J.R.R. Tolkien, reportedly suspends its main narrative action for almost a third of its screen time while the main character rummages through his house trying to figure out what clothing and personal possessions he will need for his journey.
“Yeah, he just sort of fusses around for a while, wondering aloud whether he should pack an umbrella or not, and laying out different coats on his bed,” said Hollywood Reporter critic Todd McCarthy, who attended an early press screening this week. “And then there are long stretches—I’m talking like 10, 12 minutes—where he’s just sitting in a chair silently thinking about what he’s going to need.”
“It’s pretty much the entire middle section of the film,” McCarthy added. “And it’s done with very few cuts. Most of the time the camera is just sort of staying on him without moving.”
A majority of critics said the 53-minute scene, which does not appear to be based on any particular part of the novel, was not at all expected, especially given the fact that viewers had been led to believe, from the previous scene, that the film would shortly transition into the beginning of the “unexpected journey” promised in its title.
Other critics singled out a nine-minute interlude around the 100-minute mark in which Baggins, concerned about the possibility of having to attend a formal occasion during his journey, tries on a variety of outfits in the mirror.
“At first it seems as though it’s going to be a short little montage of him packing, with jaunty music playing, but after a minute or two the music sort of fades out and it’s just a long take of Bilbo quietly looking through drawers,” Boston Globe critic Ty Burr told reporters. “Sometimes he says things out loud like, ‘Oh, Bilbo, where did you put that sweater?’ Other times he’s just muttering indecipherably. And then a lot of the time—most of the time, really—he’s dead quiet.”
“I mean, I guess it’s pretty well done for what it is, which is essentially just a person putting stuff in a suitcase,” Burr continued.
The film’s director, Peter Jackson, expressed excitement about the film’s premiere, and hinted that the second film in the Hobbit trilogy would chronicle Bilbo’s return to the Shire after he realizes he forgot his toiletries bag.