The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey ★★½

There should be two entries with LetterBoxd for this film. One for The Hobbit. And one for The Hobbit in 48 fps; as undoubtedly, these are two very different experiences. The following thoughts are based on the latter.

Having just re-read "The Hobbit", I feel like stretching it out to three films at (presumably) three hours is each is ludicrous. The movie is already too long and could've easily told the entire tale without subjecting us to six more hours of it. That said, once we get away from character introductions and the story up the notches in pacing, it's a good enough time in the theater.

It might be fair to say the Gollum is what really elevates the film to its fullest potential and the racing around and sword stabbing stuff just helps get the heart rate up enough to feel like you're back in middle earth, movie world.

But let's be honest. The movie is barely passable as entertainment. What is drawing out this particular viewer is the "new" technology of 48 fps. I don't mind being the old, stuffy guy in the room. It's terrible. It's terrible on just about every single visual level - even a bit on the aural side as well.

Let me be clear. There are some that are going to like the look. And that's fine. Peter Jackson calls it a more "immersive" experience. And I actually agree with that statement. If feeling like you're on set with these actors is immersive, then yes, that's exactly what this is. Sets look like they're plastic or cardboard and movement behind and in front of them is God-awful compositing. I'm talking "surfing on the hood of a car" terrible.

Attempts at slow motion are literally laughable because instead of actually looking like slow motion, it appears as though the actors are trying to act very slowly. It's jarring and kind of hilarious.

Two things that look great: the far far away backgrounds are gorgeous. Presumably because there is little in the way of intricate detail and also because they're so far away they don't move much. Also Gollum. It's fantastic watching his go-between with Bilbo. Both in visual awesome and script. Outside of that, I was sorely sorely let down in the visual aesthetic part of the movie.

In the end I was entertained for about 50 minutes of the total run time and it will be fun to chat about the HFR with others. But overall this movie is pretty lackluster in almost every respect. I want to see the 2D version for comparison sake, but I'm not sure I can stomach it.