I just finished watching The Hobbit for the 2nd time. Both times, I watched it in 3D-HFR and I plan to watch it once more in standard 2D. The first two experiences were at the ArcLight theater in La Jolla (UTC). I have decided to limit my review to the movie and not the theater, although a large part of the 3D experience was the theater. I will post a separate review about the theater.
This was the first 3D movie I have seen since “Dances with Smurfs“, not the South Park episode. The movie format was wide-screen and HFR (high-frame-rate). Basically, high-frame rate is double the number of frames per second. Traditional movies are shot at 24fps. The Hobbit was the first popular released movie shot at 48 fps. The idea behind HFR is that the picture is brighter and richer. Criticism of HFR is that it looks like a video game.
Having seen the same movie twice in HFR I have to say I agree that it looks more like a computer screen than a movie screen. I have not jumped to the conclusion that I dislike HFR, but I do notice when something is CGI and not real.
Two examples of this effect are:
- The fireplace in Bag-End. It reminds me of those holiday DVDs. I could really tell it was not real, but cgi.
- The waterfalls in Rivendale. The water looked like CGI. I do believe the 3D effect made it look really fake so I am not sure if HFR was to blame.
Once I get a chance to see the 2d-non-HFR I can compare.
Now, about the story. I will try not to issue **spoilers** but it is kind of hard to review the story without giving some of it away.
The movie starts out with a narrative. Bilbo Baggins is writing his book “There and Back Again” so that Frodo and us will know his story. He gives some history of the fall of Dwarves and the coming of Smaug. While I understand why this was added to the movie I have a personal problem with having to hit the audience over the head with a clueX4. I think if the story is told properly, the important things will unfold like the author intended. But, alas, I recognize that a screen play can’t always match the book.
So, having said that, I think they did a wonderful job explaining why the Dwarves were chased out of their homeland, the discovery of the Arkenstone and why the Dwarves hate the elves. The movie introduces a villain of an Orc that doesn’t really exist in the book but adds an enemy that I am sure will show up again in the third movie (during the battle of five armies). Oh yes, I did say third movie. Peter Jackson decided it would be a good idea to take a single book (about 1/3 the size of the lord of the rings) and make it into three movies. As a fan, I love the idea of seeing more of Tolkien’s world come to life, but honestly, this is just Hollywood greed. I could see two movies, but not three. Oh, and the first movie is 170 minutes long. So make sure you empty your bladder prior to the start of the movie.
While the movie makes very minor changes to the story, I can accept them. They were true to the original ideas. Most of the actors are perfect for their roles, but I think there was too much comic relief with the Dwarves. And while, Tolkien is British, I don’t think he envisioned Scottish accented Dwarves.
The part known as Roast Mutton, was very well done. It had a perfect mix if humor, suspense and shows how really stupid Trolls are.
Rivendale was amazing and just like I imagined it. I need to watch Lord Of The Rings again to see how the images compare.
At this part of the movie, we have been exposed to two new story lines that are not in the Hobbit. We learn of “The Necromancer” and the meeting of the three Elves and Saruman. Note that these are not part of the Hobbit, but could have taken place during the time this story was happening. This story line is the beginning of the story that leads to The Lord of the Rings. As I have mentioned, it was nice to see some of the additional stories come to life. Seeing Radagast the Brown was interesting as he barely appears in the main stories. I enjoyed these scenes, but I think it was a lot of unnecessary screen time that has nothing to do with “The Hobbit”.
The scene of the Storm Giants was just amazing. This went above and beyond my expectations. This leads into the ‘Under Hill’ and ‘Riddles in the Dark’. If I was to pick a highlight of the entire movie, it would be Riddles in the Dark. While they changed the scene up a little bit, it was brilliant. Gollum was amazing and you get a true sense of how tortured this creature is. I really like how they tied the first use of the ring to the way Frodo accidentally put on the ring in Bree. Although, something about this scene looked like some frames were lost. There was a jumping sort of feeling at the end.
‘Out of the frying pan, into the fire’ was my least favorite scene because it all goes back to that brand new Orcish villian. The entire scene was changed to support this confrontation. It’s all Hollywood and very little Tolkien. It works for the movie, but fans are going to be disappointed.
The movie ends about page 121 (in my book) of 317.
So my final thoughts on the movie are:
- Changes to the story work for the movie, but will disappoint those that wanted to see certain things. I was so looking to see how they were going to have the ponies dragged away by goblins through the back of the cave, but that didn’t happen.
- HFR is good until you see a really bad CGI scene and then it stands out like a sore thumb.
- 3D-I just don’t get the value of 3D (other than the theater to make $3 more a movie). The best part of the 3D experience is the vendor promotional spot. The glasses you have to wear now are large and heavy and cause nose pain and headaches.
- I really wonder what HFR-non-3d would look like.
- The movie is JUST way too long. People can’t sit this long without a bathroom break. It’s very distracting to those in the theater. I think they probably could have cut close to 40 minutes from the film of scenes not in the original book. Remember this is three movies, so it’s going to be close to nine hours!!! And we know there will be extended versions!
My recommendation is to skip the 3d-HFR. If you are into 3D, just see the 3D version. Otherwise, see the 2D version. I hope to see it later this week and can report on the differences.