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The New York Daily News has posted its take on The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey ahead of the December 3 embargo placed on New Zealand reviewers.
It has fulsome praise for director Peter Jackson, who is called the "one real wizard in Middle Earth".
In The Hobbit, the film auteur has created a "dazzling" epic, the review says.
"The [film] runs rings around most special-effects driven blockbusters."
Jackson is also praised for filming the movie at 48 frames per second (fps), rather than the industry standard 24fps.
That decision came under close scrutiny when audiences criticised test footage shown to them earlier this year.
But the final version of the film shows the "technological wizardry" paid off, the NYDN review says.
"After a minute or two of adjusting, the higher resolution is eye-popping, similar to discovering HD television for the first time.
"Alas, the higher resolution has one downside: it really makes you wince when you see the obscenely corpulent Goblin King in such crystal clarity."
The only criticism is reserved for a tangential subplot involving the wizard Radagast the Brown, who is played by former Doctor Who actor Sylvester McCoy.
His buffoonery at times "descends into Jar Jar Binks territory", the review says.
It says the movie is lighter and funnier than the Lord of the Rings films, but remains faithful to the fantasy world created by JRR Tolkien.
- Herald Online