Peter Jackson's first part in The Hobbit trilogy is finally here, my thoughts follow...
First, I haven't read The Hobbit, so I wasn't looking at the film picking out what had been added or what had been missed I just enjoyed the story unfold on the screen. However, I was concerned when they said they were expanding the book into three films if there wasn't enough content to support it, the films would just be full of filler. The first half hour did feel like this may be the case, as a returning cast member seemed to serve no purpose rather than stop us getting to this films story. However, once we leave the Shire the film really picks up.
I really enjoyed An Unexpected Journey and returning to Middle-Earth. Due to the simple nature of the story this allows the film to be more focused and stay with the main protagonists for the majority of the films running time.
The action sequence are all incredibly well crafted and exhilarating to watch. The CGI is a step above where it was 10 years ago and this adds to the experience. Gollum also returns for one of the films (and maybe the franchises) most memorable scenes!
There's been some negative reviews saying the stakes aren't as high compared to LOTR, which is true but I don't really think you need the world to be ending to create an interesting and engaging story. Once these films are complete and you can watch the six films in order, I think the fact that these films are smaller in scale will serve the overall story much better in the long-term.
My favourite film in the Lord of the Rings trilogy was Fellowship of the Ring, which actually works out quite well because The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey's structure is pretty much exactly the same. We start in the Shire, the adventure begins after some debating in the Baggins household, after a little travelling the party reach Rivendale to set out on their quest proper and the journey continues with various action sequences and creatures attacking them, before leaving the audience waiting a year for the next instalment.
However, it felt strange having to wait until next year for the next part as because LOTR already exists, you know where the story eventually ends up, but hey that's the inevitable problem with prequels.
Now what about the 48FPS? Well, I've seen The Hobbit in both 2D and the 3D HFR now and although I'm glad I saw it in 24FPS first I really enjoyed the new format. Let me explain, watching the movie for the first time in the usual format meant I could enjoy the film for its story and characters. Then the second time I could marvel at the new visual technology. I'm not going to lie, for about the first 10 minutes or so I was distracted, motion seemed too fast and humans moved uncharacteristically quick, it felt like the film was running at 1.5 times speed. However, after I got use to this you can really appreciate the clarity and smoothness of everything. The 3D looked much better and some shots felt like you were watching the film right in front of you rather than on a screen. Seriously some of the shots in Bagend, were as if they were directly there in the cinema, it was amazing.
This is definitely the future of cinema, to anyone wondering what it's like I'd say its very much like watching 3D on a high end LED TV (but on a screen 100ft wide).
One criticism I've read is that HFR makes CGI stand out more when it's on top of real environments, and although there's one sequence where this is true the sequence looked fake in 2D 24FPS as well. For the most part, I'd actually say all the other CGI actually looked better in 48FPS.
Although, I wouldn't say The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey is quite as good as any films in the previous trilogy I'd still say it was a stellar film and Peter Jackson is still the master of the fantasy epic. I can't wait for The Desolation of Smaulg!
In addition to writing original content for MoviePush, I link to a lot of articles all over the web through my twitter @rossbishop mainly focused on movie marketing. If you’re interested and like to keep up to date, please follow me.