I generally don’t do movie reviews. I don’t think I do reviews very well at all, if I’m being totally honest. Especially for movies. I think part of it is that I get hyper focused on the movie on screen and I either ‘buy in’ and think it’s the greatest thing ever done, or I’m sucked out of the story for some reason and I hate it.
That’s generally how I am with books too, but I’m at least nominally capable of deconstructing a book to find out what I enjoyed and what I didn’t.
Anyway, I took the kids and a nephew and went out to see The Hobbit over the weekend. I shelled out the $100 and made sure we got to see the 3D IMAX HFR edition.
This is me attempting a movie review – I shudder for you all – I’m going to split this into two: The Presentation first, then the actual movie.
Wait, maybe I should make this into three parts. No, that would be too much.
Presentation: The HFR (High Frame Rate) is a reference to the way that this movie was shot. As far as I know, it the first feature film to be shot in 48 fps (frames per second) ever. The promise is that it offers a smoother look, and in 3D – since polarized glasses tend to cut the number of frames each eye sees in half – along with the brightness – it means that the movie experience is much more enjoyable. That’s the intent, at least.
This is supposed to make the movie more engrossing, visually. If you’ve been anywhere on the internet and looked into what other think you’ll have seen that there a lot of people complaining about the experience.
I, for one, certainly found it distracting. But in the end decided I liked it. First, if you’ve ever seen many daytime soap operas, or some of those British shows that pop up on PBS on occasion then you might see some similarities. It’s a bit like watching a movie in fast forward – except that nothing is going fast. It’s a strange thing, and I found myself, especially early in the movie, staring at the screen and watching carefully how things looked. I mean, how can something appear to be moving too quickly, but not be? It’s a mystery.
I think all films shot in the standard film format (24 fps) have kind of tricked us into thinking that is the way things on a giant screen are supposed to look. And the hyper-real 48 fps reminds us of the cheap video productions we’ve all seen on poorly produced shows. It is disconcerting.
It’s funny, as my wife and I have shopped for a television that could also serve as a monitor for my job when I work from home, we’ve ended up having these long, detailed conversations about frame rates on televisions and the typical 24fps standard for movies and how problematic it can be when watching something – like a blu ray disk of a movie. It can cause movements to look unnatural. On a technical level, the sorts of problems that arise can be really difficult for engineers to solve.
Sorry, I digress.
By the time the movie was finished however, I was pretty thrilled with the format. I intend on sneaking out one night this week with the missus and watching it again. This time to see if I can watch the movie without the staring at the screen.
The Movie: For what it’s worth. I thought the movie was fantastic. I feel like it suffers just a bit from ‘Jackson-Bloat’ – a term I made up just now to describe his tendency of stretching a film out longer than its natural length. Some of the early portions of the movie seemed excessively long - but it was charming. I didn't really mind the excessive length.
I’m reminded a bit of Tolkien who said something like,”…if there is something I regret – it’s that I didn’t make it (LOTR) longer….” I believe Peter Jackson feels the same way about his movies. As this might be an all-time great film if it were just 45 minutes shorter. As it stands, more isn’t better, but it’s still pretty awesome.
If I had a frustration it was that so much of the effort put into foreshadowing al the LOTR stuff makes no sense. I mean, we've all seen LOTR so it's not like we need all that. If some future movie goer watches The Hobbit movies first, then they might get all excited about the LOTR movies, but then get confused because they reintroduce characters that we've already seen.
For me though, small complaints. I loved the movie.