The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey (2012)

I came to The Hobbit with little to no knowledge of the novel and almost completely faded memories of the Lord Of The Rings trilogy, having only seen each of them once at the cinema. I remembered Gollum, Frodo, Bilbo and Gandalf and was happy to see them again. Fantasy is a genre that I always forget I love until I’m actually watching it, and The Hobbit didn’t disappoint on that front. There were enough mountain trolls, goblins and boxing rock giants to satisfy anyone’s desire for escapism and surprisingly at just under three hours in length it didn’t out stay its welcome, though I feel the next two instalments may struggle to keep such attention with roughly six hours of cinema being used to serve the 155 remaining untold pages of the novel.

My personal highlight was the audience’s reunion with Gollum. Perhaps my memories of the LOTR trilogy are too faint to remember, but what The Hobbit did extremely well was display just how sad his tale really is. My heart broke for him a little when Martin Freeman leapt to freedom over his head and his “precious” was gone forever.

Overall it was a thoroughly enjoyable evening at the cinema, except, well, it didn’t feel like I was at the cinema at all. I chose to watch The Hobbit in the new HFR (48 frames per second rather than 24) to see what all the fuss was about, and quite honestly all that I did was make a fuss about it. It is a disconcerting experience to watch 48 frames, it felt as though I were watching a documentary or a behind the scenes footage montage rather than an actual film. There was a distinct lack of the cinematic about the experience, call me old fashioned but I like the look of a slightly hazy projection, something that even the HD projectors still had at 24 frames a second. I was constantly aware that my eyes could not keep up with the clarity of the scenes on screen, and at certain points in the film it looked as though characters were moving in double time. One positive to come from the HFR was that the wide shots of the Shire and Lothlórien did look absolutely beautiful, but I constantly felt as though the fourth wall was being broken, as the clarity of the picture was so striking that it didn’t feel as though there was a fourth wall at all. This may sound like an appealing atmosphere, but a film like The Hobbit needed to be cinematically epic, and the documentary feel that the HFR gave it was so jarring that I found myself not being able to be swept away as I’m sure I was in The Fellowship Of The Ring or The Return Of The King.

So, The Hobbit as a film gets a 4.5 out of 5 from me, but 48 frames a second gets a damning 1 out of 5. I wish I’d seen it in good old fashioned 2D.

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