If you were anywhere near Twitter around midnight, you likely witnessed the embargo drop on the reviews for Peter Jackson‘s highly anticipated “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey.” And indeed, we had our own take on the movie, noting that after the picture gets off to a rocky, goofy start, it becomes “a thrilling ride that’s one of the most enjoyable, exciting and engaging tentpoles of the year.” Not bad at all, but as for that 48fps? It hasn’t gone down quite as Jackson might have planned. In our review we noted that it took about an hour to get used to the super high-res image, but that it’s effective once the big setpieces kick in toward the finale of the film. But what did other critics have to say? Read on….
The Hollywood Reporter said “die-hard fans of his Lord of the Rings trilogy will gorge upon” the movie, “however, it’s also a bit of a slog, with an inordinate amount of exposition and lack of strong forward movement.” And 48fps? “The results are interesting and will be much-debated, but…while striking in some of the big spectacle scenes, predominantly looked like ultra-vivid television video, paradoxically lending the film a oddly theatrical look, especially in the cramped interior scenes in Bilbo Baggins’ home.”
Variety said the film “delivers more of what made his earlier trilogy so compelling [but] it doesn’t offer nearly enough novelty to justify the three-film, nine-hour treatment, at least on the basis of this overlong first installment.” And 48fps? It’s “disconcerting” as “everything takes on an overblown, artificial quality in which the phoniness of the sets and costumes becomes obvious, while well-lit areas bleed into their surroundings, like watching a high-end home movie.”
HitFix calls it “an above-average fantasy film, a dense piece of entertainment that packs more visual wonder into its two-and-three-quarter hour run than seems possible.” And 48fps? “Throughout the entire film, there was a strange Benny Hill quality to sequences, with things that appeared to be sped up. It happened in both dialogue and action sequences, and the overall effect was like watching the most beautifully mastered Blu-ray ever played at 1.5x speed.” However, “In terms of the 3D and the clarity, it was impressive, and there is a strange dreamy quality to the more-video-than-video nature of the format.”
SlashFilm say the movie “is a lot of fun. Fans of Jackson, Tolkien and the Lord of the Rings films will enjoy it. However, it’s long and uneven, which keeps it from reaching the heights of Jackson’s first three Middle-Earth films.” And 48fps? “…it’s a bit of a mixed bag. At times, the film looks immaculate. Regular landscapes and normal shots with static digital effects look so beautiful, it’s almost as if you could press pause and step through the screen. However, when there are a lot of effects on screen, or they move quickly (as when animals are present, for example) they look overly digital and obviously inserted.”
Movieline sums up the general consensus on the picture, saying “if it doesn’t quite soar as high in transformative joy or ecstasy as we thought it might… it’s still home.” They didn’t see the movie in 48fps, but say “the 3-D adds nothing to the film, and is a surcharge to be avoided.”
Now, it should be noted that 48fps (or HFR as it’s referred to in advertising) is only going to screen on a very small portion of screens when “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey” opens on December 14th. And by the first reactions, it might not be something worth tracking down if you just want to sit back and enjoy the movie. And with that in mind, here are six clips from ‘The Hobbit’ via Bleeding Cool.