The Hobbit, 3D, and HFR

Let me just start by saying five stars, five stars, five stars, five stars, and five stars. There is no reason to wait until the end to rate it. This is the best entertainment experience possible. It only seems fair to reveal my biases beforehand. However, this was such a phenomenal movie that I am not sure it really counts as a bias. I watched the high frame rate (HFR) version in 3D, so there is plenty to discuss in this review.

First and foremost, the movie was incredible. I had two main concerns for this first of three Hobbit movies. I worried about the book being more juvenile than The Lord of the Rings books, leading to a less sophisticated movie. It also seemed impossible to raise the bar after the finale of the first movies earning twelve academy awards—tied for the most awarded movie in history. True to the book, this movie does start with a much more light-hearted feel. However, it transitions naturally into a full and sophisticated story worthy of the franchise. We couldn’t stop talking about it all through dinner, and I find myself wanting to go back tomorrow. I’ve heard several people say they couldn’t imagine how the book would fill three movies, implying a lot of filler might be in the show. Those people need not fear. The action runs all the way through it.

Personally, I absolutely love the new 3D technology. There is a very real difference between 3D movies and their flat counterparts. In traditional movies, they focus on one main picture with the foreground and background blurring. It mimics the natural focus of our eyes and helps direct us where to look in the picture. That is why taking a movie filmed in two dimensions and converting it to 3D often doesn’t look great, because the three-dimensional elements are still blurry. With the new 3D movies, every part of the show can be in perfect focus. So the foreground and background can have minute details, not just the part the director wants to lead viewers to concentrate on. This effect is amazing because it actually is better than what our eyes can see in real life.

Many news reports said people watching the new higher frame rate (HFR) movies, developed by Peter Jackson for this series, made them dizzy. Naturally I wasn’t about to take their word for it. I’m glad I didn’t. Personally, I didn’t feel nauseated at all. The improved clarity of the movie completely justified the innovation. Normally when an object or person moves, there is a blur on the film. We have adjusted to this, so we accept the blurred film as a good approximation of what we see when things move in real life. HFR fixes it. Every single pixel of every motion is perfectly clear and focused, unless the director wanted it to be blurry. This is a great step forward in movie art. It removes one approximation movies use as a crutch and takes the visual art to the next level. Every spot in the movie looked like a perfect picture, even mid-motion.

Whether or not you like 3D and HFR, The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey is, without doubt, the best movie of 2012.

… read the full review at The Speculators’ club.


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