Peter Jackson delivers the first installment of his three-part Tolkien adaptation, and it may be the weirdest-looking big-budget movie since Michael Mann's Public Enemies. Like that film, it uses digital photography to create unsettlingly hyperreal imagery, but instead of the earlier movie's heightened immediacy, the technique yields a greater sense of distance, stressing the falsity of the expensive effects. Many of the actors have been digitally altered to suggest animated characters, and the glossy texture of their skin makes them look, creepily, like toys. Little about the storytelling suggests a beating heart beneath the visuals; once the journey has begun, the characters find themselves in life-threatening danger with stupefying regularity (and saved by a different deus ex machina every time). With Martin Freeman and Ian McKellen.
Director: Peter Jackson
Producer: Carolynne Cunningham, Zane Weiner, Fran Walsh, Peter Jackson, Alan Horn, Toby Emmerich, Ken Kamins and Carolyn Blackwood
Cast: Ian McKellen, Martin Freeman, Richard Armitage, Ken Stott, Graham McTavish, William Kircher, James Nesbitt, Stephen Hunter, Dean O'Gorman, Aidan Turner, John Callen, Peter Hambleton, Jed Brophy, Mark Hadlow, Adam Brown, Ian Holm, Elijah Wood, Hugo Weaving, Cate Blanchett, Christopher Lee, Andy Serkis and Sylvester McCoy