Saturday, December 22, 2012

The Hobbit "review" (no spoilers)

I got into the HFR 3D showing of The Hobbit yesterday.

I think it was a terrific movie, but a more complete review is going to have to wait until I've had a chance to see it again.

Maybe this is just me, but I had real problems with the 3D aspect of it. I found the image quality to be diminished and dimmed. Plus wearing the glasses and, frankly, seeing things in 3D, never stopped being a distraction for me.

In spite of all that I think the movie is pretty great.

This movie is part one of three that will present the story from the classic fantasy novel by J.R.R. Tolkien.

I read the book a really long time ago, so I can't really say how faithful this telling is (so far) to the original, but my gut feeling is that it's OK. I can't remember that the dialogue was as clever and humorous as this one occasionally is. And I think they've restructured the story somewhat, in order to tell it on the screen and to a less devoted audience. But if these are changes from the original text, I like them.

The movie's preamble, with older Bilbo setting the stage, does a very good job of explaining the backstory here. The story is more clear to me now, in a way that I don't remember it ever being just from the book.

So many dwarves! But Jackson does a good job of communicating the important energy of that group, while focussing on the handful that are important, and that we can keep straight in our minds.

Martin Freeman's Bilbo is excellently played in this first episode. In many ways it's more well-played than Elijah Wood's Frodo was.

No surprise, Sir Ian's Gandalf steals the show, regardless of whether the beat calls for action, exposition, humor, or pathos.

If I'm remembering the book correctly then in part one we've now seen all of Gollum that we're going to in these movies, and that's a shame, because Andy Serkis's reprise of the role is better than ever. (Am I right about this? Do we not meet Gollum again until LotR?)

As I said, the 3D disappointed me, but the reason I attended a 3D showing was for the HFR, High Frame Rate. HFR means that the movie was shot at, and in this theatre was being displayed at, 48 frames per second, as opposed to the traditional 24 fps. HFR is a process which is known to provide a dramatically more realistic image quality. And I was looking forward to seeing that.

Sadly there were very few moments when I noticed any improved quality due to the HFR. I blame the 3D for this. The image quality "surcharge" of the 3D -- the awkward glasses, the dimmed screen brightness, and the parallax overload -- seemed to cancel out all the benefits of the HFR. I repeatedly lowered my 3D glasses to see the actual screen image, and when it wasn't blurred by the stereo doubling I could see the very high quality. But for me anyway, it was mostly lost, to the 3D. I'd like to find a theatre/screen that is showing HFR 2D, but I don't know if there are any of those.

If you have experienced 3D movies before, and like them, then see the 3D of this one, otherwise use caution.

This is a really good movie. Not as great as Lord of the Rings, though the subject matter is less weighty. But this is a great adventure yarn, told by a skilled filmmaker, with great actors and stunning settings. I'll try to give you more detail after my second viewing. But I highly recommend The Hobbit.

1 comment:

  1. I read a few reviews of the movie that thought the HFR 3d was a major distraction and took away from the movie. I'm not really a fan of 3d anyway so that's fine by me as i'm seeing it in 2d!