Christmas was kind to me with the gift of movie tickets. My wife, who assures me that she does not get to go out enough, and I went to go see The Hobbit. Before you ask, yes, she wanted to go see it. Date night! Using our free tickets we were also able to go see it in an IMAX theater, which we basically chose to do so because the time of the showing worked out best for the farmer.
HFRWhat I was really excited about was to go see the movie in the high frame rate (HFR) version. The director, Peter Jackson, wanted to try to overcome some of the flaws of 3D by increasing the traditional frame rate of movies of 24 frames per second to 48 frames per second. Basically we have been conditioned to watching the flaws of 24fps. It was chosen way back in the early days of filming as a compromise between enough frames to see motion without using too much expensive film stock. The flaws you do see are things like wheels that turn backward on a forward moving vehicle, how the image might judder on a slow pan, or strobing in 3D.
The high frame rate made the movie look very, very real. Some scenes really lend themselves to make you feel you were watching a live play instead of a movie. It was awkward at other times and often reminded me of the re-enactment scenes on a documentary on the History Chanel. It also had the look of unfinished deleted scenes you see on a DVD or Blu-ray; like they had not had the cinematic effects added to them. I would love to compare it to the 24fps version to see how much more it looked like a traditional movie.
When it was a close up scene and rousing music kicked in the music felt out of place because the movie looked so real I couldn't imagine music being played in this "real life" place. The 3D looked great, however, and was used tastefully throughout I thought even though if I'm not a huge 3D fan.
The PlotThe movie itself was fun. I have not read the book in a few years so while I knew the basic plot I was not nitpicking over things added or left out. I did recognize some of the additions made from other writings by Tolkien and thought they worked in adding foreshadowing to the Lord of The Rings movies. All of the actors were very convincing and it was great to have Gandalf the Grey back.
The basic plot is how Gandalf assembles a group of dwarfs, including the heir to the throne, to reclaim their kingdom that has been overtaken by a dragon. Gandalf insists they need a burglar in the person of Bilbo Baggins, a hobbit. Now hobbits are folk that enjoy the simple life not adventures (and the wife thought there might be some similarities to a certain farmer she knows).
I thought the main point of this first movie in the trilogy was not only to set up the the story and introduce the villains, but to also show why the very capable at adventuring and fighting dwarfs needed a hobbit. Bilbo and Thorin, the would be king, have a great conversation late in the movie about "home." It was simple and elegant.
I liked the movie and will have to see more high frame rate movies before I can pass judgement on what I really think about it. In the meantime I'll be counting down the days until the Blu-ray comes out and the next installment comes to theaters.
Now back to the cows!