Ian's Movie Reviews
Short Reviews of Movies, Board Games, and Other Stuff

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey (Part 2)

'Look at me! I'm running at 48 frames per second!'

Alright, I feel like I have to chime in on the visuals of this movie. Yes, the production values look very consistent with the first trilogy. Yes, the special effects are up to Middle Earth Par, especially the Eagles. Well, okay, the goofier stuff not so much (i.e. The Goblin King). But what I really want to discuss is of course the 48 frames per second.

I may be accused of being afraid of change. I’ve been accused of that before, and that’s fine. But in reality, I’m not afraid of it, I understand that progress is a crucial part of life. What I am against is change for the sake of change and blind “progress” which is given little thought put into it and more hype because its “the wave of the future”. I don’t have a smart phone because I see no practical purpose to have one in my life. I don’t bother with Netflix because I see it as choosing convenience over quality.

And I don’t like the idea of faster frame rates because it destroys the illusionary aspect of movies.

I know Peter Jackson believes that this is simply going to be the norm for film-making in a few years, and he may well be right. But judging on what I saw with The Hobbit, I hope it isn’t. The frame rate gives the characters on film awkward movements which can be really off-putting. The moments when this is really bad are times when you see close-up actions such as Bilbo pulling things from his chest or hands grabbing at food on the table. It looks cheap. It looks like a homemade movie. What it doesn’t look like is a movie. in fact, in the prologue they show the city of Dale, and because it looked so realistic, the costume design and sets looked so fake I was disgusted. With 24 fps second, I probably would have fooled and would have been pulled into that world.

Granted, as the film went on, I noticed it less. However every once in a while some action scenes would really show it off again and jar me out of the experience. I will give the new technology credit for making the 3D flow more smoothly mind you. It wasn’t as blurry and disjointed as 3D tends to be (the Eagle scene is a great example of this), but since I don’t really care about 3D this didn’t really matter to me.

I am glad that I saw it in 48 fps, since I have been extremely curious about this “new leap forward”. I wondered if it was the next best thing our generation would have to adding sound to picture, or the introduction of Technicolor. Now I just hope that it doesn’t catch on since this is an example of progress made simply for the sake of progress and not necessarily for the betterment of film.

Overall I would probably give The Hobbit an 8/10, however if I wasn’t a massive Tolkien fan this would probably be lower. I’ve decided to keep the 48fps out of the score, for that would probably have dropped it down as well.


Part 1 here

6 Responses to “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey (Part 2)”

  1. I keep hearing complaints about the 48fps thing. It makes me curious. The theater in my hometown wasn’t showing it in 48fps, so I haven’t experienced it. The effects in my opinion were top notch.

    I’m not sure what your issue with the goblin king was, other than the silliness. The effects seemed pretty good for him. But I wasn’t a big fan of his portrayal.

  2. Ah, well. I for one LOVED the fact it looked so realistic. Instead of pulling me OUT of the movie, it drew me in. I thought that – as you point out – everything looked REAL. Isnt that the point? It was much easier to imagine I was actually watching real people doing real things in real places.

    • Ah, drinkin’ the 48 koolaid, hey Fogs? Actually I just finished listening to you and Tank gush over it. I definitely see where you are coming from, and your holodeck comment has cool. But where we differ is that I don’t believe that making things look as real as possible IS the point. Movies still need a certain level of distance in order for the illusion to work. A case in point is how fake the sets and costumes looked in the prologue. And the fact that this is a fantasy film also makes the realism a little out of place.

  3. Interesting that despite all your quibbles you still give this a 8/10. I’d probably give it the same rating and I LOVED it. I have no qualms about the HFR and the stuff you pointed out here didn’t really bother me. I was caught up in the journey and the spectacular visuals. I guess I just love the world of Middle Earth so much so I might already sort of biased about this one.

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