Friday, 14 December 2012

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey 3D HFR

This could be one of the hardest films I have had to review. I didn't know whether to be excited for The Hobbit or not this year. I was a massive fan of The Lord of the Rings trilogy and didn't want Peter Jackson to ruin its legacy by releasing a prequel that I didn't believe could be as epic as the previous films. Then there was the news that it was going to be turned into three films, which I'm still not too happy about. Though after seeing it last night I am pleased to say that I thoroughly enjoyed the film and it sure does feel good to have Middle Earth back on the big screen. However I'm not too sure that watching the film in 48 frames per second (fps) is the way forward. But more on that later. I would just like to mention that this review is spoiler free.

The first part of The Hobbit trilogy follows a gang of Dwarfs who want to reclaim their home and treasure stolen off them by the dragon Smaug. Led by Gandalf who insists that the hobbit Bilbo Baggins would be a great addition to the gang.

The journey the gang take is very similar to the journey taken in The Fellowship of the Ring, but the film does not feel the same. It stands on its own but still has that light but serious tone that was kept throughout the whole of the franchise. And like the rest of the franchise, this film had a top notch ensemble cast, of which you probably already know, but I want to pick out the two people I thought were the best in this film, and those two are Martin Freeman and Richard Armitage who played Bilbo and Thorin. Both were outstanding in their roles and the film would not have been as good without them. Everyone one else was also on form but they were the two performances that stood out the most.

I must say I was expecting this film to be quite a slow one, with a lot of the action to be left for the sequels but this was not the case at all, there was blooming loads of it! This film may not have as many grand scale epic war scenes as the other films did but the action set pieces are brilliant. My only criticism would be the amount of CGI and animated characters put into the mix which sometimes looked out of place because of the format that I saw it in.

This comes to my point about this being a hard film to review because although I loved it, I really did not like the higher frame rate that I saw it in. Films are usually filmed and shown in 24 fps but Peter Jackson decided to film in 48fps and give us the option as to which format to see it in. As a budding filmmaker this format intrigued me and I was very interested to see what it looked like. I can only describe it as  being almost like a super HD version of the film. Everything was in focus and it seemed a lot like live television. A lot of critics have been saying that it looks so real that it looks fake and now after watching I can understand what they mean by that. Unfortunately because it looks so real, when there is animation involved it is obvious. Which is too bad because the animation is some of the best I've ever seen but unfortunately still doesn't look real, or at least not real enough to be shown in 48fps with human actors. When all that was on the frame was animation, it looked incredible but when you mix it, it looked awful. This isn't good because it takes you out of the story and back into the cinema where you are watching the film. If a company was to make a motion capture animation film in 48fps then it would definitely work but live action not so much. I can't help but feel I may have enjoyed the film just a little bit more in its regular format.

The 3D however does look stunning in 48fps but because the stuff on screen looks fake then they kind of cancel each other out. Still though, some of the best 3D I've seen.

If you are a fan of The Lord of the Rings then you are going to love this film! I felt very nostalgic seeing Middle Earth in all it's beautiful glory on the big screen once more, a feeling I hope to get again when they release the new Star Wars film in 2015.

If you are a fan of the book and read it when you were younger like me, then you will be very happy with how they adapt some of the best bits for the big screen. My favorite bits of the book such as the scene with the three trolls and the game of riddles between Bilbo and Gollum (who looks better then ever!) are also my favorite parts in the film. Although Peter Jackson has stretched certain scenes out to make them bigger and more cinematic, it never feels too far from the source material. The film, like The Lord of the Rings, just felt a little bit too long, but I can now see why they were going to split the story into two, but splitting into three is yet to be justified in my mind.

Everything you loved about The Lord of the Rings is back and thankfully it maintains it's excellent standard. I am looking forward to the next two instalments but will most likely see them in 24fps. It's hard to rate this film because no matter how much I loved it there was still a lot I didn't like because of the format I saw it in, therefore I am giving The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey a rating of 4/5.

What do you think of the 48fps? Which format is the first part of The Hobbit best in? Did you like the film at all? Please comment below!

Thanks for reading!

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