Review: The Hobbit in High Frame Rate 3D

December 16, 2012


Peter Jackson’s ‘The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey’ is easily one of the most anticipated films this holiday season, we all know that. The technology around the Hobbit is ground breaking, we all know that too. The real question is, what if anything does all that new technology add to the final product? I have a feeling this is going to be one of the most contentious questions movie fans and particularly home theater aficionados debate in the coming months and years.

It feels like I’ve waited years for ‘The Hobbit’ to arrive in theaters and now that I’ve seen it, I can’t help but be a little disappointed. I’ll cut to the chase and say I would have preferred something more along the lines of the ‘Lord of the Rings’ trilogy, non-3D, standard framerate with more of the gorgeous (organic’esque) cinematography we’ve come to expect from a Peter Jackson production.

From the very first glimpses of Bilbo in his Hobbit Hole I had the sinking feeling that 48fps wasn’t going to make me like 3D anymore than I already do (which isn’t much) and by the end of the movie I pretty much felt the same. It certainly looked different but I can’t say I liked it better than anything I saw in the theaters during ‘The Lord of the Rings’. To the contrary in most scenes I found it distracting and artificial. It honestly wasn’t a lot different than the 120hz and 240hz clear motion settings on recent LED televisions (the kind of settings I turn off) although it was considerably less fatiguing to the eye.

Don’t get me wrong,  it wasn’t all bad, overall the movie was enjoyable and there were several scenes that I felt did look really good. One of the better looking scenes took place as the Dwarves were leaving The Shire and then later during the flashback to the Battle of Moria. That said, I never really felt like it would have lost anything in standard framerate 2D, I’m sure many will disagree, I’m just calling it as I see it. Admittedly I may be too old to toss out my nostalgia for film (and even its 2K digital counterpart) and look at something like this with fresh eyes, even though that’s exactly what I tried to do with The Hobbit.

The sound was another aspect I was excited to experience for the first time, The Hobbit is among a handful of new films to be presented in Dolby Atmos. Sadly I couldn’t find a theater in my area with Atmos capabilities. Hopefully one of my local theaters will make the upgrade in the coming months and I’ll be able to check that out as well.

This is a tough review because I really went to see the movie with hopes the technology would enhance my experience. Sadly the opposite happened and I found myself so distracted by the technology I couldn’t enjoy the movie to its fullest. I’ll certainly look forward to the Blu-ray release and or I may try and catch a standard framerate, 2D showing for comparisons sake. I’m really anxious to see the movie after having seen the technology.

Related: I’m concerned about what 48fps might mean for the future of the cinema, there’s a great post over at Den of Geek on that very subject.

Posted by Bryan Greenway | | Filed Under Movies & Television


  • I agree, not only were some of the action scenes appearing to me as ‘artificial’ or obvious, the plot itself seemed forced. Ah, the perils of doing prequels…

  • Bilbo’s size in evaluation to Gandalf’s changes throughout the film. This is also noticeable in The Lord Of The ring trilogy….Well it should be enjoyable as it has got the good response….