Saturday, December 22, 2012

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey (3D & high frame rate)

Plot: Gandolf (Ian McKellen) and a band of dwarves enlist hobbit Bilbo Baggins (Marin Freeman) to join them to fight a dragon in a far off mountain. We hear the backstory of how the dragon took over the mountain, an attack by orcs riding oversized wolves, a visit to Elrond (Hugo Weaving) at Rivendale, being trapped by goblins, another attack by orcs riding oversized wolfs,  and eventually get within sight of the destination mountain by the end of the film. [imdb]    [photos]

Review: Not so great. While The Hobbit is the best of Tolkien's novels, this is the worst of Peter Jackson's films. Their are two reasons: the plot and the photography. The Hobbit is a great story with a villainous dragon, a  great climax and happy ending. The movie is not. It starts a silly comic party, and it ends with blah nothing. No dramatic structure.

I know the movie-makers spent millions on special effects, but live action scenes looked fake, especially the first 90 minutes. The computer generated scenes looked LESS fake.  Even the food on the plate at Bilbo's house (which had to have been real carrots and potato) looked fake. The characters just did not look like real people. They looked like over-dressed actors on a stage set. Why? I don't know, but I do know that  Cinematorgrapher Lesnie should get his Oscar revoked. 

It was not all bad. Computer generated Gollum/Smeagel was a highlight -- I loved him, but it did not last long enough. The computer animated characters looked good, and the giant eagles soaring were wonderful. The soundtrack was strong, and I even bought one song.

I have thought long and hard about whether the high frame rate was the problem, and I decided no. Even when the characters were still (perhaps especially when they were still) they looked fake. Cheap movies look more real than this. The high frame rate was good during the action scenes. The people fought and throw things at high speed, and I could see it all. In regular movies, action scenes can speed by faster than you can see them. 

Cast: Martin Freeman, Ian McKellen

Directed by: Peter Jackson

Rating: 1.5 stars: Not recommended. I previously gave 3.5 stars to Return of the King, and 3.0 stars to Two Towers. The photography and the lack of any dramatic structure that makes this unsatisfying. I don't know if I would have liked the 2D and 24 frame/sec version. 
More:  I loved Cate Blanchett's Galadriel.

More:  I heard about the fakeness of the high frame rate images, but I thought it was just curmudgeonlyness. It was real though and very distracting.