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Old December 16 2012, 10:16 PM   #156
Hugo Rune
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Re: The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey - Grading & Discussion (Spoilers

Just got back from a HFR 3D screening and the thing that is constantly running around my head is: "Must see is in 24fps not in 3D".

There is no doubt for me that the 48fps is an interesting and suprising piece of tech, and every external shot looks utterly wonderous. Yet, given this film has clearly been made almost solely on sets, here comes the problem. The 48fps is so damned good it makes the 3D actually WORK... which means people seem to be constantly popping out of the sets and at times it almost looked as if the Hobbit-Hole set was in fact a very good green screen. Very odd at times.

I must admit, I do not like 3D. I see no real point for it and it comes across as an indulgence rather than adding anything truly spectacular. Yet, the 48fps completely took away the headache, furry-edge issues I've had with it. The quality of the images were striking, yet the comparisons to watching a "stage-play recorded for TV airing" is apt. The lighting can look off and the dimensions oddly too rich. In the end, I must say the whole technique is likely not for me (currently) but it was a fascinating experience.

Given the above, the 48fps screening I watched no longer felt like a "film". There is no doubt that Jackson was attempting to create a new visual style, and he's done so, but the "filmic" look is one I enjoy massively and hence why I am now gagging to watch the film in non 3D at 24fps. I spent far too much time analysing the scene, the sets etc and strangely, given the formats original intent, didn't feel immersed in the film.

All very strange. But on with the rest of the content.

The biggest failing of this film in fact lies with the text. The Hobbit was a trial run in a new world for Tolkein which he then expanded upon in Lord of the Rings. Hence, watching the films Sequel-then-Prequel, you realise how much of The Hobbit was in fact then re-developed and refined into The Lord of the Rings. The film of The Hobbit in fact shares probably too much DNA with the film of The Fellowship of the Ring:

An introduction of Hobbiton
A humerous gathering/party
A Journey/long walk begins
Fisticuffs in the hills
A meeting with the Elves
Running away from mountains (quite literally in The Hobbit)
A vertiginous action sequence running away from orcs/goblins
Chased by Orcs to a showdown

The only things in The Hobbit that really stand as unique is "Riddles in the Dark" - which in fact now sits up there in the pantheon of wonderful quiet LOTR scenes. Gollum was astounding to watch and in fact in THIS scene I felt not only did the HFR work best, but so did Freeman. A perfect rich centrepiece to a best-of-buffet.

Yet, though the DNA is the same, between TH and LOTF the psyche is wholly different. Throughout all of the LOTR films, even FOTR, there is a constant air of sadness, of longing (elves leaving, Aragorns soulful past and unwanted future, the frailty of man) a shade wholly missing from The Hobbit. It IS a different story, I get that, but the tinges of sadness and mournfulness resonate with me. The Hobbit is a happier, frillier book and film and the emotional weight of Thorin and the Dwarve's quest never quite sang for me.

It is a fractured film, one that would have happily lost 15 or so minutes of material and still kept the pertinent parts, and still kept it a trilogy. Clearly a large bulk of the original two films is in here as the Appendices material on show was slim and fleeting. One assumes films 2/3 will have larger sections drawn out of the back of ROTK.

This is a fine film, but really does feel only like a beginning, whilst FOTR felt like its own complete story.

Other grumbles:

The score felt somewhat flat this time around, with only one distinctive new theme developed. One hopes that as these films begin to diverge from the mirroring of FOTR/LOTR so the score will allow for new ideas and themes.

Too many sets. Yes, I know, there are hundreds of sets used in LOTR to replace the outside, but in The Hobbit there simply wasn't ENOUGH outside. Think the battle at Amon Hen, the scaling of the Misty Mountains were Frodo loses the ring, running from the Riders. Perhaps is the was the perpetual sunrise/dawn that The Hobbit seemed to be shot in once it left the shire, but I was longing to see the actors out in New Zealand! ;-)

The Trolls and The Goblin King - nice CGI, fun fights, poor poor childish humour

The pacing was sluggish at times.

Yet, still, for all of the above gripes, the acting, the world, the scale of the Dward flashbacks, the Dwarves themselves, the possibilities thrown up surrounding The Necromancer... all kinds of wonderful.

So a very flawed film, but still enjoyable none-the-less and a solid 6/10


Hugo - no doubt most of you stopped reading well before the end of that...
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