THE HOBBIT: AN UNEXPECTED JOURNEY

Bad movie, ugly process, but please don’t send me hate mail.  We can just agree to disagree.

The narrative is a good place to start.  Why is this movie nearly three hours long?  Not very much happens, really (though the Orcs and other creatures look pretty creepy), and the pacing is terrible.  Why does it take so long to get through the exposition?  Why does Bilbo Baggins finally decide to go along for the trip?  And, why does Gandalf seem so reluctant (or incapable) of using his mysterious powers?

Let me provide one example.  The scene when Bilbo has the riddle duel with Gollum must go on ten or fifteen minutes (and regardless could have been accomplished in half because it plods), but that’s a prime example of when some intercutting between that scene and the ongoing battle above might have helped things a bit.  Plod-ding!

I could give more examples, but don’t want to think about it any more.  To say something nice, I must recommend the stunning vistas (which I’d like to see without production design and digital “enhancement”).

Now to assess the 48fps format as used in The Hobbit.  Let me say, first, that high frame rate processes can look good, but this one doesn’t.

The depth effects are decent – the mid-frame and background are generally nice – but the foreground where the characters are mainly positioned looks harsh, flat, washed out.

As I was sitting at the Grand 18 in Winston-Salem yesterday (one of five theaters in North Carolina showing the film in 48fps), I kept thinking, “The foreground image looks like one of those old, BBC television period dramas shot on video.”   Of course, I’ve enjoyed the content of some of those movies more than this one because of the writing and performances, but I never cared for the aesthetic.

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