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The Hobbit Episode 1 of 3: An Unexpected Journey: The High Frame Rate Experience

Remember those LORDS OF RINGS movies and books they used to have, about the magic ring that a bunch of little people had to throw into a volcano because it was so powerful it would warp the mind of even a good man, and dessicate him into a freaky, fish-munching Gollum? I always thought that story was supposed to be about the arms race, but it turns out the ring was actually a metaphor for The Lord of the Rings itself. The power of this thing has turned director Peter Jackson skinny and made him jones for his precious so bad that he’s adapted the first third of J.R.R. Tolkein’s 320 page children’s book The Hobbit into a 169 minute part 1-of-3 that’s somehow gonna have an additional 20-25 minutes added for video, meaning the full movie will likely end up being around 9 1/2 hours by the time the third blu-ray comes out around Christmas 2015. See, Jackson found a bunch of appendixes and supplemental materials, some recipes, golf score cards and a doodle of boobs that Tolkien drew on the back of an Arby’s menu, and he felt it was important to include all that. And in order to pack even more in he developed new technology to shoot at double the standard number of frames so that certain theaters willing to shell out the dough to upgrade their digital projectors can project it to look like a shitty shot-on-video mini-series or an HDTV somebody set up wrong because they didn’t know any better.

More – alot more – on the “48 FPS HFR” technology later. For now let’s talk the movie, as much as is possible.

I think The Hobbit was written before the other ones, but this is treated as a prequel, so it has a wraparound that totally fills you in on Bilbo (Ian Holm) and Frodo (Elijah Wood in a brief smiling-and-skipping cameo) sending out the invitations for that party they had at the beginning of part 1. So consider that dream fulfilled, everybody. FINALLY, some answers.

Bilbo begins to tell part 1-of-3 of the story of the adventure he once had, and it flashes back to young Bilbo (Martin Freeman) hanging out in the hobbit hood one day when the deadbeat wizard Gandalf (Ian McKellen) shows up and invites a whole bunch of dwarves to come to Bilbo’s house and eat all his food. I think Bilbo is a survivalist because he has like an entire Whole Foods worth of shit stored in his pantry. The book probly didn’t go into as much detail about how many different foods they eat and how stressed out Bilbo is by all this. And then the dwarves start playing hacky sack with his dishware and it seems like it’s headed into a sweet dishwashing montage that never materializes. So wait for the extended edition for that.

It turns out the dwarves lost their homeland to a mean dragon one time, they feel they do not have a home and they want to reclaim what they believe is their birthright. At first I thought The Hobbit was about Israel and Palestine, but then I realized it was written before the founding of Israel, so really it’s the other way around: Israel and Palestine are about The Hobbit. Anyway, the dwarves have noticed signs that this dragon asshole’s gonna (die? retire?) so they have to go to a mountain to unlock a door, I believe. Some of this was probly explained in the 5 or so minutes of narration at the beginning that I had trouble concentrating on because I was so distracted trying to figure out why in God’s holy name Jackson wanted his $180 million, nearly-ten-years-in-the-making dream project epic to look like that version of RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK that the kids made in their backyard with camcorders. Maybe 25 minutes in my flight instincts kicked in, I really badly wanted to leave and either see it somewhere in actual movie format or not ever see it. I never had that reaction to a movie before. But I was with somebody so I stuck it out. Glad I did, ’cause otherwise this would be a short review.

The dwarves and Gandalf try to harass Bilbo into risking his life to go with them and he wisely refuses but the next morning he’s bored so he goes anyway. There is camping, etc. No mention of second breakfast, which is BULLSHIT. Obviously in part 1 they don’t make it all the way to the mountain, but they get pretty close. They can see the mountain. (SPOILER.) The giant eagles help them again but they leave them on top of a steep mountain. I know you can’t look a gift horse in the mouth, but come on, birds. How hard would it be to drop them off on the ground? No wonder they gotta have 3 movies. Part 2’s probly gonna be just them trying to figure out how the fuck to get down from there.

If there’s 2 things I’ve learned from these movies it’s

1) sometimes in a wizard’s life a wizard’s gotta tell a moth or butterfly to go get the giant eagles

2) but the giant eagles aren’t gonna do all your work for you. They don’t do dropping rings into volcanoes and they don’t do Lonely Mountain journeys. Or maybe they normally do but Gandalf is such a stoner they figure he’s not gonna tip so why bother.

The dwarves all have different types of crazy beards and bulbous cartoony noses and goofy braids and shit, except two of them are handsome. The one that doesn’t look like Jimmy Fallon is the leader, Thoren Oakenshield, the only one whose name I caught. He has a backstory that is sort of the main story of the movie, about a mean one-armed Orc that has a vendetta against him and hunts them on their journey. Also there are other characters such as The Wizard of Bird Shit (who talks to animals, rides on a sled pulled by bunnies and has bird shit smeared all over his face) and what I thought were new improved Orcs but I guess they are goblins. Didn’t mean to be racist there, I just didn’t know. I mean both are barbarians who live underground and hate hobbits. There are undeniable cultural similarities. It was an honest mistake.

Jackson likes a little gross-out even in a kids movie, so Bilbo smells a troll’s ass and gets covered in snot and stuff. The Goblin King guy has a giant nutsack for a chin, like the dad in Family Guy. But also it has nasty blood blisters all along one side of the balls. It’s all CGI but it looks so real, I couldn’t stop staring at it. If I was a hobbit that got captured by this guy I think I would be in even more trouble than these ones because he would be like “Why won’t you look me in the eye? Are you scared of me? Wait a minute, what are you– You’re staring at my ball-chin-blisters, aren’t you? What is your problem?”

By the way, I might be coming at this different from other people. I like hobbit movies but would always rather watch a CONAN. The people this movie was aimed for were super-excited that Benedict Cumberbatch from Sherlock played “Necromancer.” I was the one who was excited that Conan Stevens from TRUE LEGEND and MUAY THAI GIANT played somebody named “Bolg.”

Jackson has lost his mind, but not his talent. I’ve liked almost all of his movies to date, even the unpopular THE LOVELY BONES and especially the hated-by-some-people KING KONG remake. He can still put some good (if overly long) scenes together and he gets a very likable performance out of Freeman, who has the benefit of being a more bumbling, light-hearted character than Wood got to play. Gollum shows up late in the game for his famous riddling-in-a-cave scene. He’s still mo-capped by Andy Serkis with even-better-than-before digital effects, and I hadn’t watched the other movies in years so I forgot what a delight he was gonna be. He steals another movie. I also really dug the look of the one-armed Orc guy and the goblins, like the little toady the King has hanging from a rope. They look so real but you know they’re not just because they’re so beautifully designed. Too good of monsters to be real.

The wolf monsters that the Orcs ride on do not look as real, they’re more muppety in design, but I kinda liked that.

Also, it needs to be said that McKellen is still great, and I think maybe better than before as Gandalf. His look and performance when first talking to Bilbo was the first thing in the movie to carry me past the garbagey look of the 48 FPS video into this fantasy world of Hobbitland.

And hey, is this new? Check out Gandalf’s hands:

He has wizard warmers! To keep his wrists warm when a gust of wind blows into those big sleeves that wizards wear. That’s ingenious. I wonder why he gave those up?

By the end I was able to get fairly involved in the story. There are good scenes involving giant trolls, a big subterranean rope bridge battle, other fights. There are two pretty effective emotional moments, one where Bilbo comes to a realization and one where Oakenshield pulls a RETURN OF THE KING “My friends you bow to no one” type thing. I gotta say though, I really wish this could just be one movie, a more tight and complete experience than LORD OF THE RINGS, the one you can watch when you’re in a hobbity mood but don’t want to dedicate your whole damn week to watching it. I mean if you really want to go overboard then make two I guess, but if you’re tellin me I gotta wait a year just to see the middle of this story, there better be a big payoff. But I know there’s not, because this is The Hobbit, it’s about a guy meets some dwarfs and a Gollum and then talks to a dragon. It’s not supposed to be LAWRENCE OF ARABIA. Which, by the way, was one movie.

Remember, in LORD OF THE RINGS they were on a journey to “Mount Doom.” In this one they’re going to “The Lonely Mountain.” That right there is everything you need to know about why this isn’t 3 movies. I mean come on man. No trilogy can end at The Lonely Mountain. We all know this.

Wait a minute – there were three Lord of the Rings books, three movies. Does Jackson wish he’d done nine?

The thing is, Peter Jackson’s entire career has been based on not showing restraint. He obviously showed none with BAD TASTE, DEAD OR ALIVE or MEET THE FEEBLES, and that’s one of the main things people loved about those movies. HEAVENLY CREATURES is his classiest and most normal but for the type of drama it was it was pretty crazy to have the weird special effects fantasy sequences. One of the few times he held back was in not showing the murder and rape of the little girl in THE LOVELY BONES, which of course he was roundly criticized for.

With all that in mind it’s weird to be saying that he needs to start editing himself. And I was even one of the ones who didn’t have a problem with that first pre-giant-gorilla hour in KING KONG that alot of people thought was boring. But maybe that was a symptom I shoulda taken note of. Somehow this guy’s gotta fuckin cool it. Somebody who cares about him, like maybe his life-and-writing-partner Fran Walsh, needs to line up his darlings in front of him and start executing them right there. Really shake him up. Make him realize that just because you can do anything doesn’t mean you gotta do all of it.

I mean, do I really want to watch the middle movie? Seems like I could skip to the last one and not miss much.

* * *

Thank you Peter Jackson, for forcing me to dig out this old graphic that I thought was obsolete

Turns out that shit was right about curiosity killing the cat. I believed all the bad shit I’d heard about 48 FPS High Frame Rate Video Tape, but I stupidly had to see it myself. It took me probly 45 minutes to an hour to get fully invested in the movie. That’s partly because there’s an adjustment period, at first the musical scoring and sound effects and everything don’t seem to connect, it seems like you’re playing the LORD OF THE RINGS CD in the background of your home videos. And when Elijah Wood shows up it just looks wrong, like on the STAR WARS Holiday Special when they show Mark Hammil or somebody but it’s a video instead of a movie.

You have to let the Stockholm Syndrome settle in before the language of cinema works. But more than that I think I was just distracted because it just looks so cheap and ugly to me that I couldn’t concentrate on much beyond the question of why anybody, much less a director whose works I’ve admired since the late ’80s, would intentionally make a movie look the way unwatchable backyard horror films of the ’80s looked. Shit, Jackson even made a backyard horror film in the ’80s, and he shot that on film. VIDEO VIOLENCE and SPLATTER FARM came out the same year as BAD TASTE. He could’ve saved himself some trouble if he just shot his on camcorders like those guys did. But back then he knew better.

Alot of people have compared the 48 FPS look to “a BBC mini-series,” but the truth is a BBC mini-series would look better, because they’re made to look cinematic these days. The only reason anybody would make a movie look like this before was because they couldn’t afford film, not as an intentional artistic decision. The reason digital video has been democratizing is that technology has improved enough that even a lower budget production can look more like film, more like a real movie, less like this.

This is the honest truth, not an exaggeration. If this was a BBC mini-series, here’s what I believe would happen: Hey, that mini-series they made of The Hobbit is on BBC America! I gotta check that out. It’s on after this, I think. What is this? Oh wait, this is The Hobbit? Why is it shot on video? Ah, that’s too bad. I was gonna watch that. Hmmm. Hey, STEP UP 2’s on the Family Channel again! Cool! I wonder if part 3’s on next?

Joseph Kahn correctly pointed out that this is a tool that not everyone has to use but a filmatist can choose to for a project where it’s appropriate. Good point, but when would it be appropriate? Only if you’re adapting a sitcom, game show or sports broadcast into a movie and want to stay true to its cheap looking, uncinematic roots. Or let’s say they start releasing commercials in theaters, but they want to make sure it looks like a Ron Popeil one or a local used car lot and not, like, a Nike commercial. 48 FPS will be the way to go.

One defense I’ve heard is that you’ll get used to it after a while. Yeah, you’d get used to wearing underwear on your head after a while but there should first be a good reason to do it. Back in the day I couldn’t always afford to have a color TV, and I got used to watching CHiPs in black and white. But that doesn’t mean it’s better than color. And when I did upgrade to color it wasn’t like “ah, jesus, this looks HORRIBLE!” until I watched it for a while. No, if something looks good you will know it looks good, you don’t have to go through extensive training to learn to appreciate it.

Another defense I’ve heard is no, you think it looks shitty but it’s just because it’s such a shockingly new look, you don’ t know how to process it. I don’t buy it. This is not a new look. This is a look we’ve all seen for decades, and we have rejected it, because it is shitty. You only make something look like this if you have no other choice.

The 3D aspect was fine. I didn’t think it was one of the movies you have to see in 3D like the Robert Zemeckises, but it’s pretty consistently dimensional at least. I don’t think the added frames improved that, though. There was still a little bit of ghosting at times. It’s mostly not too dark – I wonder if that’s why Gollum’s cave is lit so brightly, because of 3D?

It’s weird, the creatures in this movie are literally the most sophisticated version of these type of special effects that have been done to date. They look amazing. And yet there are shots with them in them that look cheap and ugly because of the 48 FPS. Yeah, Gollum looks real, but he’s standing in front of a brightly lit fake rock.

I personally know two people who liked the 48 FPS look, and there’s no arguing with it. I mean, if it looks good to you it looks good to you. Harry Knowles likes it too, and obviously Peter Jackson. Pretty much everyone else I’ve read or talked to about it thought it looked like shit. But even among that majority some still claim “it’s the future” as soon as they perfect a few things, like completely reinventing the 100 year histories of motion picture set building, makeup, sound design and special effects to play better to a terrible aesthetic that most people don’t like.

Well, let’s just say I hope it doesn’t catch on. I like movies. Not gonna switch to just videos.

So I think this is a hugely misguided piece of movie-making hubris, but at least it has some good monsters and a lesson we can learn from it. I think for all of us, whether we are outsiders or fantasy literature scholars, Jackson has given us a fuller understanding of the works of J.R.R. Tolkein. He’s shown us that what we need to do is gather those fuckers up and toss them into a volcano.

This entry was posted on Monday, December 31st, 2012 at 2:17 am and is filed under Fantasy/Swords, Reviews. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

131 Responses to “The Hobbit Episode 1 of 3: An Unexpected Journey: The High Frame Rate Experience”

  1. That’s too bad, Vern… It sure seems like most of the people who saw The Hobbit in 48fps really didn’t like the technology or the movie. I saw it in regular old 2D 24fps and thought it was a marvelous follow-up to the first trilogy.

    I do agree that Jackson probably needs somebody to keep him from indulging himself — this one already feels like an Extended Edition. It’s hard to believe another 30 min of footage is going to improve it.

    Still, I liked it a lot.

  2. Oh come on, am I really the only one who has no problem with the length of that movie (and the fact that there are two more coming)? In my opinion it was one of the fastest paced 3 hour movies that I have ever seen! When it was over, I thought only 90 minutes passed! Seriously! But to be fair, I do blame it on your trouble with the 48fps.

    I still plan to go to such a 48fps screening in one or two weeks, if it’s still available then. Despite my hate for 3D. But maybe the higher framerate makes it finally work for me and most of all: I am curious! The version that I saw was a digital 24fps 2D projection and it looked so damn clear and sharp, like I never saw a movie in a theatre before! When the opening titles started, I thought for a few seconds they would show it in 48fps too, just because the letters looked so damn real! After that it did look more like a “normal” movie, but with some surprising clarity and detailed sharpness, especially in dark scenes. It is possible that this was the first digital projection that I ever saw before, but it was definitely the first one of a movie that was shot digitally. On that day, right before I saw THE HOBBIT, I saw WRECK-IT RALPH and that was a 100% digital movie, but it didn’t look THAT sharp!

  3. Presumably going on at such excessive length about how Jackson goes on at such excessive length is some kind of hommage?


  5. It’s not that it’s long (the running time isn’t painful or anything), it’s that it’s stretching something that is small into something it’s not supposed to be. Obviously I didn’t get the point across, so I’ll add another ten paragraphs for ejh.

  6. Yeah, but here is the thing. I’ve never read the book, so I don’t know what has been stretched and added and to me, just in terms of it being a movie, everything worked fine! I remember Drew McWeeny’s review, where he talked about how endless long the introduction of the Dwarves is and because of that, I expected MUCH more when they started their second song. But then it was over! That “neverending dinner scene” felt like 5-6 minutes to me! (But I seem to get lost in movies pretty easily anyway. When I saw PROMETHEUS a few days ago, I was shocked how much stuff they packed into the first 30 minutes and then I checked my DVD player and there was already more than 1 hour gone!)

  7. I’ve read THE HOBBIT several times. I like it more than LORD OF THE ETC.

    Saw this movie in 2D, and Jackson pulls his usual shit: adding scenes not in the book and “adapting” and embellishing to his heart’s content. There are bits of dialogue between the Dwarves & Bilbo & Gandalf & the White Council that aren’t in the book, but really I thought they were LESS BORING than much of the stuff in the LOTR trilogy. Remember all those Aragorn/Arwen scenes? All that endless exposition explaining how dangerous the ring was? Seeing Isuldir cut the ring off Sauron THREE TIMES in one movie? All the boring shit with Galadriel and with the elves? Did people really not find those first three movies to be kind of BORING sometimes? I mean, come on.

    So to me it was par for the course and actually a little better, thanks to the superior art direction (I loved Azog the one-armed Orc & the design on the goblins) and thought it was better paced than FELLOWSHIP. I really don’t see how you could like the first three movies and dislike this one.

    I admit, this is coming from someone who didn’t suffer through the HFR. It really taints everything, you know?

  8. I saw it in 24fps/non-3D and was a big fan of the original trilogy. Grew up reading the book, gem of my childhood etc.

    But holy Jesus on a bouncing cross, this was flabby. I enjoyed it, but would have walked away happy had it been an hour shorter. Ian Holm starts going, “Let me tell you a story-” and then goddamn Elijah Woods wanders in and holds the story up for 5 minutes (and it felt longer) with nonsense about party invitations. PARTY INVITATIONS. A good trim on excess dwarf humour/elf politics/tomb of whatshisdick would also be welcome.

    I assume Vern is joking about the director’s cut; this felt exactly like an excessive director’s cut would… Lot’s of scenes that felt cute (“Let’s bring back Frodo!”) but dragged overall. For my money, the 48fps thing is distracting people from the narrative problems of extending a story about – SPOILER, SPOILER – killing a dragon and arguing over his treasure.

  9. I seem to pretty much be allergic to hi-def. Most Blu-rays look like reality shows to me unless it’s animation. To me, it looks less like an artfully composed frame projected on a screen like a 2D work of art and more like I’m looking through a window at the set, making it feel like a behind-the-scenes featurette and not a movie, which really hurts my suspension of disbelief. So I think I’ll wait until standard-def DVD to watch THE HOBBITSes. That should cruddy it up enough for my old eyes to be able to make sense of it.

  10. To be clear, though, I did enjoy it. Favourite character is the Goblin King’s legless gunsel in a basket. Hope he plays a bigger part in the next two films.

  11. As much as I want to read this review now, I don’t see the point if there’s just gonna be an extended cut later. :)

  12. “I saw it in regular old 2D 24fps and thought it was a marvelous follow-up to the first trilogy.

    I do agree that Jackson probably needs somebody to keep him from indulging himself — this one already feels like an Extended Edition. It’s hard to believe another 30 min of footage is going to improve it.”

    I agree totally on #1. Is the “mixed” reception on Rotten Tomatoes simply from that stupid technology? Thank God I saw it in good ole plain 2-D when I was only concerned about was the movie. Amazing that with all the bad word about this film, I was so pleasantly surprised that the bellyaching needs to STFU. I gathered if you liked LOTR, you’ll like this. Lots of great action/adventure, humor, great stunning FX and visuals, an engaging thoughtful narrative.

    Funny you mention the EE, since this is what HOBBIT BEGINS played like. And I loved that. I have a hard time watching LOTR in their theatrical edits. Imagine if SIGN O THE TIMES or the White Album got chopped down into just one LP and condensed. Fuck that. So yes I love the EE, they have a better pace and more rewarding, not so frantic and leave alot of touches of humanity and asthetic wonder behind. Vern mentioned LAWRENCE OF ARABIA, but if that was cut down to the 3 hour limit, it…wouldn’t have worked as well.

    Its one thing to note that movies are long, but sometimes there’s a point to them. Sometimes I don’t merely want television on the big screen, I want a goddamn MOVIE, and a movie experience at that. THE HOBBIT is a long movie, but “long” like most modern movies are when they’re undisciplined and quite frankly instead of gagging down into making sweet love, they’re still jerking off. I’m reminded of JACK REACHER, a movie I enjoyed, where it’s basically a Clint Eastwood movie without Clint Eastwood. Except if Eastwood had done this, as producer he would’ve condensed the story down 20 minutes and not have such a convoluted nonsensical wrap up (nor that goofy superhero movie ending voice-over) to that story.

    HOBBIT however has one disadvantage against it that the LOTR EE didn’t have: No intermission break. Those EE cuts on DVD were perfectly edited at the right intermission break for a good strethc/piss timeout. If the modern movie theatre still instituted intermissions like they did in Old Hollywood, people wouldn’t be whining so much about HOBBIT being too long.

    Plus I loved that this movie literally did end on a cliff hanger. Two of them if you think about it.

    “Oh come on, am I really the only one who has no problem with the length of that movie (and the fact that there are two more coming)? In my opinion it was one of the fastest paced 3 hour movies that I have ever seen! When it was over, I thought only 90 minutes passed! Seriously!”

    Good movies are never too long, and bad ones are never too short.

    It’s funny you mentioned WRECK-IT RALPH, I saw that the day before THE HOBBIT: THE HALFLING MENACE. I’m always pleasantly surprised when you see a movie which even though it got good reviews, was much better than I was expecting. (My expectations were decent, like FRANKENWEENIE.) A better Pixar movie than the one Pixar put out this summer. Of the American cartoon movies out this year that I’ve seen, RALPH was the best and deserves the Animated Oscar. Probably the first Disney animated film since THE INCREDIBLES that I really actually wouldn’t mind seeing a sequel. (Hopefully Mario won’t hold out for more mushrooms as he did this time. Fuckin’ diva.)

    “It’s not that it’s long (the running time isn’t painful or anything), it’s that it’s stretching something that is small into something it’s not supposed to be. Obviously I didn’t get the point across, so I’ll add another ten paragraphs for ejh.”

    Vern – I love you, but that’s shit logic. How about we don’t do movies of long books since we’re having to condense/delete alot of stuff from it since they’re meant to be long? Indeed you crack about 9 movies out of LOTR, then maybe they undersold LOTR with this rationality. How much stuff was cut out from LOTR books in their transistion to film?

    Look I thought turning not 2 but 3 movies out of one average sized movie sounded like fucking hubris too. But having seen this, I think I can see now how it can work. I’m not saying it will pay off for sure in THE HOBBIT KNIGHT and THE HOBBIT KNIGHT RISES, but I’m just saying I liked how Mr. Jackson set this shit up.

    I mean lets remember gang, FELLOWSHIP OF THE RING was what 3 hours (200 minutes I believe in EE) and its an epic 1st act setting up 2 other movies. Just a reminder.

    Anyway Vern, I don’t know what you think but I admire that in HOBBIT as in LOTR (which I rewatched before seeing this), how Peter Jackson is able to marry together live action, CGI, and miniatures and green screen into the same plane of existence. Yes I know its all “fake,” but its not like most films when I see something and I go “wow that’s nice CGI” or “wow that’s nice greenscreen” which briefly take me out of this fantasty reality that are movies. With LOTR (and HOBBIT: THE MOVIE PART 1) , I…really want to believe all those locations, from the Shire to that Goblin King’s catacombs, do actually exist out there somewhere in New Zealand, and Jackson just had his camera and cast, and criminally underpaid monster extras. (New Zealand is infamous racist against Orcs.)

    Speaking of Gollum, anybody else impressed by his CGI work? I mean rewatching LOTR, Gollum still stands out as brilliant movie FX and integration of that into the narrative. But I was impressed by a decade’s advancement in CGI that went into him. More detailed, more slimey/gross, more alive. I even liked the simple (I’m sure pain in the ass to pull off) shots of his eyes reflecting the light and giving a real menacing predator look to him.

    So yeah I loved THE HOBBIT: THE SAGA BEGINS. I give it 9 out of 10.

    Looking back at this year, I loved AVENGERS, I loved that one Nolan movie but won’t name because some locals get anal when I mention it. I enjoyed AMAZING SPIDER-MAN, even though the same Internet that apparently got butthurt over HOBBIT also hated that too. Go figure. I loved DREDD, which wasn’t a great movie but it was a very good “very good” movie if that makes any sense. SKYFALL was another wonderful spectacle. There were other good movies too, but I don’t remember them off the top of my head.

    No offense taken, I hope.

  13. I think I prefer the earlier adaptation of this story, the one in which Antonio Banderas plays Bilbo. Remember that? The 13th Warrior? Pretty similar, but bloodier, with less CG.

  14. I can see why people always say that WRECK-IT RALPH felt like a Pixar movie, but to be honest, I think it felt more like a Dreamworks movie. (The current, seriously good kind of Dreamworks movie, like HOW TO TRAIN YOUR DRAGON or the KUNG-FU PANDAs, not the early stuff like MADAGASCAR.)

  15. Hm. I must also disagree with Vern that there is little place for 48fps for “cinematic” storytelling. I also had to adjust to the incredible clarity of the 48fps framerate when I watched this and it took me out of the story at the beginning too. But I do love the clarity that it brought to the movie, especially when you consider most of it is actually animated. It also helps in particular with the issue of the high speed motion blurring that occurs on film with the normal framerate when there is lot of motion and action on screen.

    I guess what it boils down to is what the filmmaker decides is the medium that best reflects the visuals of what he wants to show. If they want to use 48fps for the clarity and brightness, then they should.

    I know a lot has been made about the running time but I was entertained for the entire running time. It did feel like a little more of it could be trimmed but it didn’t drag since Jackson kept things moving, even during the introductory dinner scene.

    Jam, “gunsel” is a great word, isn’t it? Ah, the imaginative ways writers get around editors and censorship.

  16. @RRA – ‘Jack Reacher’ is not a Clint Eastwood movie without Clint Eastwood. It’s a Steven Seagal movie without Steven Seagal. (Okay, okay, it also doesn’t have a ponytail, and Werner Herzog never actually shakes his head and admiringly says “Who is this guy?” But, more or less.)

  17. Saw it in 2D, enjoyed it a lot. 48 FPS was noticeable and bad for the first 30-40 minutes for me, but after that, either I just stopped noticing it or it got better, because it looked fine. I’m with CJ on the issue of the additions/stretching. I’ve only read the book up to the point this movie ends at, so I’m aware of some of the changes and additions, but a lot of what’s to come is unknown to me, so I can’t really say whether I think it’s worth it or not, but as a LOTR fan, I’m fine with MORE. Plus, as I understand it, part of the reason for the extra stuff is to address how in the book Gandalf just leaves the party alone with no explanation(which the later appendixes filled it). So for a film adaptation, they’d have to have either shown what he was doing (which they did), or they just wouldn’t have him leave, which would have presented a challenge in writing in how the party would still get into the same scrapes even with him there.
    I do like how that while this is more light hearted and the Dwarves embody that a bit, the film also treats them a lot more seriously and less like comic relief, which Gimli suffered from a bit in the other movies. Thorin’s backstory helped tremendously to show just what they’d been through and were fighting for.

  18. On the subject of if there’s going to be an extended version, one scene I do remember from the trailer which was absent from the film was Bilbo looking at the shards of Narsil in Rivendell, so um, hopefully there’ll just be deleted scenes. Speaking of Rivendell, did anyone notice just how much less of a bitter dick Elrond was in this movie compared to the others?

  19. 48fps looked phenomenal in the wide landscape shots. There was an unbelievable amount of clarity and detail in those.

    But yes, the character moments looked like ass. Sets looked like sets, props like props and make-up like make-up. Everything oozed absolute unflinching reality – which wasn’t Middle-Earth but a New Zealand studio backlot with a bunch of actors running around.

    Sporting events, nature documentaries, video games and such. I’m all for using 48fps (and eventually 60fps) for those. Those are the genres and media I want all the obstructions between me and the footage removed. In those cases, I want to be there in the reality where it was shot.

    But for films, where the whole point is to fool the audience in believing something happening that doesn’t exist, then I want the smoke and mirrors. The motion blur, the grain, the depth of field, the not-entirely-real-but-magical look of the film. All the things that help me get immersed into the world and buy into the lie, that what I’m seeing isn’t actors and sets and fakery, but something more than sum of its parts.

  20. I think the most disheartening aspect of Peter Jackson drinking the James Cameron “everything is better with the latest gizmos!” Kool-Aid, is the loss of the miniature work.

    In the Lord of the Rings documentaries, Jackson specifically says he has always admired old school miniatures, and wanted to make films that combined both old and new techniques to make something special. True enough, the level of craftsmanship the miniature crew achieved is amazing. And watching the trilogy now after seeing the Hobbit, they still hold up.

    With 3D, miniatures can’t be used (at least easily) and it was much easier to go full CGI. And with Jackson’s own words from one of the production videos, it’s easier to work with computers and make changes up until the very end. It’s George Lucas way of thinking and armchair directing.

    I’m sure some of the miniature people found work in the digital realm, but I’m bummed that sort of know-how and people producing timeless work get the boot just so the hottest and latest thing can be thrown on the screen.

    Lord of the Rings films still look amazing apart from some CGI. I really wonder how well everything-must-be-CGI and hopping-on-the-latest-trend film like The Hobbit still holds up in a decade.

  21. I saw it at 48 fps. And yeah, it looked bad, but I’m not sure how much the high frame rate had to do with that. The biggest problem was the colour palette. Lack of greyscale, blown highlights. That’s why it looked like an old BBC production. And that wouldn’t have anything to do with the frame rate per se, though I suppose there might be limitations right now in the camera they have to use or the processing they have to put it through that make it come out like that. Or it might be the 3D processing — if they brightened the original image to make it look better through dark glasses, that would screw with the highlights.

  22. Okay, it looks like no one is going to bring this up, so I will.
    THE HOBBIT isn’t just the book itself adapted. Jackson isn’t stretching one book into three movies. A good part of the trilogy is going to be from The Simarlian, which is quite long (and dense as fuck).

    To quote a chap on Tumblr: “Let me clear up a little misconception that’s been going around.  
    Peter Jackson (and his screenwriters, Phillipa Boyens and Fran Walsh) did not invent much of anything.  Thorin’s story comes from Return of the King, Appendix A.  The story of the Necromancer comes from the last chapter of The Silmarillion.  Radagast also appears in The Silmarillion.  Stories of Gondolin appear throughout the Silmarillion, as well as in the Lost Tales and various others of Tolkien’s extensive collected writing.”

  23. I know this won’t change anyone’s mind, but let’s at least agree that the source material he’s using is more extensive than everyone’s letting on. I mean, fuck, if someone’s gonna adapt the fucking Silmarillon there’s gotta be some love for the books there. Cuz it ain’t an easy read.

  24. There were a bunch of shots where I actually liked the 48fps. I feel like it added detail and smoothness to some of the movie. But there were a bunch of scenes where it looked like a damn videogame. 48 might be the future but they need tip work some kinks out first

  25. BTW, did you know that the giant one armend white Orc was played by Crixus from SPARTACUS? (Don’t know to what extend. I’m still trying to figure out if he was a guy in make up, MoCap or CGI enhanced make up.)

  26. The added extra bits felt just like that: added extra bits. Things best left for appendices and stories for another book.

    I appreciate word building and the added texture of the Extended Editions, but in this theatrical version of The Hobbit, the added material felt like it had fuck-all to do with Bilbo’s story. Gandalf and the rest of the LOTR cast talking about the Necromancer and foreshadowing of the events of the next trilogy was completely irrelevant for the journey at hand. Same with the forest adventures of Radagast.

    I’m sure I’ll like it more on BluRay where the world can be allowed to breathe and I can experience it on my own pace. But as a theatrical experience, it was meandering and flabby.

  27. “The book probly didn’t go into as much detail about how many different foods they eat and how stressed out Bilbo is by all this.”

    Actually, since it’s a book about a hobbit, it goes into MORE detail about that. It’s probably the one aspect of the book that Jackson cut down.

    Aside from the introductions of the dwarves.

  28. I love the book, but will probably skip this. For me, the Hobbit is a much more enjoyable read than LotR because it’s quick and concise. It should’ve been one movie. By stretching it to 3 (!) movies, Jackson is killing the sense of urgency which makes the story so fun to begin with.

    As far as 48 fps is concerned, I have to see it to really judge it. But, I think it’s really strange. I mean, I haven’t really heard people complaining about 24 fps. Sounds like everybody is hating 48, though, so who knows if I’ll ever see it for myself. I wonder if there are gonna be a bunch of pissed off theater owners who upgraded their projectors for a tech that gets applied to one trilogy…

  29. Oh, and I realize that some of this comes from sources other than the Hobbit. Fuck that excuse. This movie is called the Hobbit. That’s what I want to see. I don’t want to see an adaptation of all the shit Tolkien wrote which only the most die hard fan can stand to read.

  30. I guess I’m in the minority on this one, but I liked the 48 fps. Yes, there is a period of adjustment (akin to an IMAX), but that was mostly during the Frodo prologue. Once the dwarves entered the picture, the look of the film clicked. I didn’t find it distracting at all. Some scenes looked like you were watching a play. And a lot of the scenes blended CGI characters seamlessly with the humans.

    I also don’t think turning a relatively short book into a three part trilogy is necessarily a bad thing. Like Gandalf says in the beginning, “A good story needs embellishing”. Overall, I thought it stacked up well enough to the LOTR flicks. Better than Two Towers, but not as good as King and Fellowship.

  31. Anthony’s got it right, most of this is legitimately in the source material, though they’ve beefed up the Necromancer/Radagast plotline a bit. I feared the pacing would be off, but it really pulled me in – I hit the 3 hour mark, and was shocked how much time had passed – I felt it was really well paced, and had a bunch of those character building moments and whimsy that really appealed to me.

    I saw it in 48FPS 3D, and it took me about 10 minutes to get back into it, but yeah, it certainly did initially look like shit.

    @CJ – I’m betting Azog (one armed dude) was mostly CG. Manu’s been looking pretty out of shape for him lately (guess he’s not taking all the steroids right now).

  32. I didn’t have a problem with the 48fps. Once we’ve gotten the resolution down to the limit of human perception, motion is the next frontier. In the real world, you don’t see those motion swipes you see in film, where a moving object is captured as a still image, with the distance from point A to point B determined by the length of the frame’s exposure. Film gives an illusion of movement without movement. I mean, a pixel never moves. Picture a red pixel “moving” across a blue screen: one pixel is red, then 1/24th second later, it’s blue and the one next to it is red, then this happens again, etc. When we finally develop the technology to make the actual pixel, or image, move across the screen fluidly, instead of stitched together stills, then we’ll have the motion thing aligned with how we perceive motion, and we can move on to the next frontier. (Moisture maybe?) 48fps doesn’t achieve the goal of capturing natural movement, it just halves the length of the motion swipe. Despite the nearly universally negative reaction to the look of The Hobbit, it didn’t bother me, but it’s not all that much closer to the goal it set out for.

    What bothered me about The Hobbit was that it has more padding than an Amazon package. It felt more like it was killing time than telling a story. And the writing in the inserted scenes is awful. Remember Legend? Tom Cruise and a Unicorn? Ridley Scott’s followup to Alien and Bladerunner. Man I had high hopes. Then one of the goblins or whatever goes, “No way Jose!” and I crumpled, my hopes dashed. Or when one of the Mayans in Apocalypto goes “I am walking here!” Those kinds of self indulgent bits, where you know the writer leaves it in just because it broke up a long day of writing with a giggle, can flat ruin a movie. (Not that Apocalypto needed any help on that account.) The Hobbit is full of those, where the filmmakers didn’t have the discipline to leave out something that gave them a giggle at the time but erodes the fourth wall by making us aware of the giggling filmmakers for a moment.

    Another problem I had with it: I know the LOTRilogy has brought New Zealand gajillions in tourist dough, people wanting to see the places where it was filmed. That’s basically what the The Hobbit is, more a travelogue than a prequel. Every scene is presented for us to go, “Oh look this is where X is going to happen!” Just a few years after the fact, it’s a nostalgic tour of Middle Earth. It feels like an extra on the disc of one of the previous films more than its own movie.

    And is it just me or did almost all of the dwarves look like CGI Robin Williams?

  33. I’m just saying, this could’ve been a real good 3 hour movie of The Hobbit. Three years and nearly 10 hours into the motherfucker when it turns out it was just about a hobbit going to talk to a dragon in a cave I feel like it might not feel very climactic. In my opinion.

  34. Isn’t the dragon stuff still a bit before the end of the story? There’s a big battle with 5 armies as the actual climax? I have to say Vern, I’m kinda confused. The way you talk about the book it doesn’t sound like you’ve read it, but you sure seem to have a firm opinion of how it should be adapted.

  35. Let’s see, people whining about how this is a travelogue and that Bilbo’s story was overwhelmed by the narrative. You know what’s funny? Some people bitched both points over a decade ago about LOTR. To pull those cards now and not on LOTR, you know this reminds me of when Vern got pissed at the Internet’s silly pickyness over the last INDIANA JONES movie about the CGI ants and the monkey scene, and how he (rightly) pointed out that criticism could be used with the previous Indy pictures.

    “Fuck that excuse. This movie is called the Hobbit. That’s what I want to see. I don’t want to see an adaptation of all the shit Tolkien wrote which only the most die hard fan can stand to read.”

    Dtroyt – Imagine if we applied this logic to comic book movies. Notice how most of them, if they mine anything from comics and graphic novels, pick this and pick that from numerous sources over from different decades. Consider THE AVENGERS, Loki was the first supervillain they fought in the comics. Yet that Nic Fury is black, a change only made in Marvel what a decade ago? Funny I don’t hear people whining about those elements and where they were lifted from.

    Maybe that part about comic book movies is why I’m not so touchy on this adaptation issue as some people are?

    HT – That’s very unfortunate about the miniatures. And since I paid (quite intentionally) NOT to watch goddamn 3-D, I got screwed so some morons easily wowed by dimmer picture and higher ticket prices can get their 3-D.

    “I can see why people always say that WRECK-IT RALPH felt like a Pixar movie, but to be honest, I think it felt more like a Dreamworks movie. (The current, seriously good kind of Dreamworks movie, like HOW TO TRAIN YOUR DRAGON or the KUNG-FU PANDAs, not the early stuff like MADAGASCAR.)”

    CJ Holden – How do you wreckon (wreck-it?) that? Not disagreeing, just that’s an interesting opinion and I wonder what is the difference? You might be right. I’m curious.

  36. The thing I hate about the wolf-dog designs is that they have evil furrowed brows (not unlike Vern’s complaint about some of the masks in the TCM remake). Not very animal-like and makes them seem even more phony.

  37. “Let’s see, people whining about how this is a travelogue and that Bilbo’s story was overwhelmed by the narrative. You know what’s funny? Some people bitched both points over a decade ago about LOTR” – yeah well maybe those people were as right then as they are now. Fuckin’ Hobbits, fuck this shit. Fuck Tolkien too, medieval cutesy bullshit.

    Also, HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!

  38. “@RRA – ‘Jack Reacher’ is not a Clint Eastwood movie without Clint Eastwood. It’s a Steven Seagal movie without Steven Seagal. (Okay, okay, it also doesn’t have a ponytail, and Werner Herzog never actually shakes his head and admiringly says “Who is this guy?” But, more or less.)

    Sean – I was going to disagree, but you do have a point. Cruise does play an ex-Army cop (might as well be ex-CIA) who left that bullshit circus because of the government/corporate corruption. They do have a scene detailing in exposition how badass this guy is. (God that scene was awesomely ridiculous, talk up this guy then he shows out suddenly at their room.)

    I will disagree on that Seagal analogy on three points: (1) Cruise doesn’t show off any pseudo/bullshit Eastern/Native American tricks or medicines, and (2) no mutltiple kicks to the crotch, and (3) I don’t remember Cruise throwing anybody gratuitously through the window or breaking multiple wrists.

    I stick by my Clint Eastwood analogy in that the JACK REACHER opening does remind one of the Scorprio’s introduction in DIRTY HARRY, scoping out his sniper rifle for a kill.

    “On the subject of if there’s going to be an extended version”

    Stu – funny you know what I was fully expecting in Rivendell? A grauitous meeting (cough cameo) between Bilbo and young teenage Aragorn. (If I remember right, he’s in his 70s in LOTR and this did take place 60 years earlier.)

    I wonder if Elrond earned his permanent moodyness after finding out the Ring still does exist or catching that mortal kid sticking his penis in his daughter.

    I bet fan fiction has already beaten me there on that scene. (Oh god imagine all the Dwarf/Bilbo/Gandalf slash orgy scenes people are already writing up.)

  39. finally, I can post my thoughts

    ok, here’s the deal, I saw this in IMAX 3D, the first 3D IMAX movie I’ve ever seen and it fucking blew me away, I LOVED this movie, a lot more than I thought I would as a matter of fact, it’s one of the very few times in the past several years that a movie managed to exceed my expectations

    it totally changed my attitude on 3D, up until now I was over 3D but the 3D in The Hobbit looked AMAZING, I mean at certain scenes (like the ones with Gollum) it literally looked like I could reach out and touch the things on the screen, it totally sold me on IMAX 3D

    and as for the movie itself, I loved it, I thought it was a great, fun fantasy adventure movie, kinda felt like an 80’s fantasy adventure movie just done with modern special effects, I loved the Goblins, I loved the Trolls and I LOVED Gollum, I didn’t even mind the length, I was too engrossed in the movie to care

    now as for the whole 48 FPS thing, I have no idea if the movie was or wasn’t in that format, but it looked fine to me, so I’m guessing it wasn’t? (considering how universally hated it is)

  40. I feel like I need to say that I liked THE HOBBIT more than you guys seem to think. Obviously I fucking despised the 48 FPS look, and I have major problems with Jackson’s approach to the story, and am disappointed as a fan of his work that he has fallen ZODIAC style into the Tolkien abyss and may come back horribly scarred. But if you read that review there is a chunk of several paragraphs in the middle that is nothing but things I thought were really good in the movie, and they are major things, not just little parts.

    I try not to be totally binary and have a thumbs up/thumbs down approach to my writing. It is possible to hate parts of a movie and still enjoy it. But people are definitely taking more negative out of this than I intended. It is a horribly misguided but fun movie with some great things in it, made by a very talented crazy person, that’s what I think.

  41. So nobody else thought 48fps looked sped up? I mean I can be open to a new visual look but if it can’t simulate the same real time movement I see with my own eyes, that is not remotely acceptable.

    Vern is right, you don’t have to get used to something that looks good. We know what real life looks like. We have movies that look like real life. Why get used to something that doesn’t?

    I do believe this technology is broken and will be fixed. James Cameron will probably do it right. But I believe we are witnessing a train wreck where Peter Jackson will have to stand by 48fps because he invested in it and he just can’t get it right.

    I also think we are uncovering that peop have different eyes and the new technologies don’t work universally. Some people can’t see 3D but they’re acting like this is something everyone needs to see. Now we have 48fps which some people adjust to, some never do and to many it looks sped up. You’re going to alienate a big audience if you’re trying to sell something that looks different to me than it does to you. It’s likely Peter Jackson is viewing it on much better equipment than we all saw.

    The movie itself is lazy. It’s fine fan service but if you dont already love it, it won’t win you over like LOTR. It’s Peter Jackson going, “Well, I know how to so this. Let’s do another one.” Relying on the old bag of tricks but without the passion we saw in KING KONG (which I adore even in the extended cut!) letting another filmmaker tackle it would have been a better reason to go back to the well, but the same guy doing it again feels lazy.

  42. Also LOL for remembering second breakfast and calling bullshit!

  43. I didn’t hate the film. I actually liked it quite a bit. The actors were good, the visuals nice, and the score was still sweeping and stirring.

    The film just tried to be both a light-hearted adventure romp and a heavy-weight epic, but it never really succeeded at being either. Still, it was very well made and worked more often than not, but a classic on par with the Lord of the Rings films, it really was not. Guess the expectations were a bit too high.

    It certainly wasn’t as bad in the storytelling department as certain another prequel trilogy. Good, but not great.

  44. RRA: “I stick by my Clint Eastwood analogy in that the JACK REACHER opening does remind one of the Scorprio’s introduction in DIRTY HARRY, scoping out his sniper rifle for a kill.”

    That would make it a Don Siegel movie.

  45. The original Paul

    January 1st, 2013 at 8:53 am

    Vern – there’s very little wrong with the source material. Can’t say whether or not there’s anything wrong with Jackson’s adapatation of it, because I haven’t seen “The Hobbit” and I was the one guy on earth who thought the “Lord of the Rings” movies were “just ok” when it came out at the time. (Every European thought it was boring as hell, every American thought it was the best film trilogy ever made, and nobody thought it was anything in between. Or at least that’s how it seemed then.)

    But let’s not throw “The Hobbit”, the book, into a volcano, thanks very much. I loved that book. I loved it enough that I’m probably not going to see it Peter Jackson-ified. Don’t blame Tolkien for Jackson’s mistakes.

  46. RRA, I just think that even now, that Dreamworks Animation tries to wrap their trademark endless string of more or less pocultural jokes into engaging scripts with interesting stories, their movies are still more meant to be seen as comedies. Unlike Pixar, whichs movies are usual light hearted dramas with enough laughs, to make you forget how dead serious their movies usually are. And WRECK-IT RALPH fell for me in the “comedy first” category.

    (This post wasn’t meant to be a diss of Dreamworks Animation, Pixar or WRECK-IT RALPH. It was just an observation.)

  47. “Every European thought it was boring as hell”

    Paul – I frequently go to a message board full of Europeans, and they quite liked those movies.

    “That would make it a Don Siegel movie.”

    charley cvercko – Who wrote the checks at Malpaso? Not Don.

    CJ Holden – I never thought what you wrote was a dissing, I was just curious about the reasoning behind your interpretation.

  48. No, no, I know that you didn’t think that way, but I’m not really in the mood to discuss things today and I thought before people drag me into a discussion about the different Pixar and Dreamworks Animation movies and what I wrote about them, I better put a disclaimer on.

    Also every European that I know was deeply in love with LOTR and The Hobbit. In fact, most people I know who hated them and said they were boring or too long, are Americans.

  49. RRA-

    Your comic book comparison is interesting, but I don’t think it fits perfectly. Comics in general are much more malleable tan novels. Most comics run for several years under more than one creative team. Continuity is constantly being messed with. Stories get retold from different points of view. The list goes on. Because of that, I’m much more open minded about the film makers tweaking things or making changes.

    But, adding what I see as 2 long films worth of material feels insulting to me. I’ve been thinking the same thing Vern said about LotR should’ve been 9 movies if this is 3.

    Of course, I could be wrong. If/when I see this, hopefully I’ll be happily surprised.

  50. I really thought the 48 fps made the cgi look far more real. Just because you see the world at (effectively) a much higher frame rate in real life, so seeing impossible creatures at a high frame rate just legitimizes them (to me anyway). It makes them feel real. I think that’s the gain of the higher frame rate at least for the time being. The problem is they have to make the practical effects and costumes look so much better because you can tell so much easier when something isn’t done well. Like how if you shoot something in color and had poor production it looks crappy because you can tell it’s cheaply made, but when you switch it to black and white it looks better just because you see less detail. You can’t tell it was done poorly. Just a fact I’ve learned from my own film making. Lower resolution hides bad production.

    The reason why 48 fps is the way of the future is because as technology improves eventually the production will be good enough that they won’t need low resolution to hide prosthetics and props. There won’t be an adjustment period, it will just look real.

    The problem is, now, the production isn’t quite there. I think it’s close though. The fact that we can adjust to it at all says that there were large portions of the production we bought into despite the high resolution.

  51. Ace Mac Ashbrook

    January 1st, 2013 at 2:48 pm

    Seen it 48 and loved it. It was my first 3D too. Not such a fan of that, but I might not be used to it yet (I say yet, I’ll probably pass on it from now on). I really want to go and watch it in good old 2D though. For these old eyes, it’d be easier to enjoy.

    I’m a massive fan of Tolkien’s books and Jackson’s films, so seeing this and knowing that two more are coming makes me very happy.

  52. Has anyone watched a blu ray like Avatar on one of the less expensive big screen LED tv’s? The common ones that can’t do true blacks, so they compensate by unrealistically cranking up the contrast? To my eyes, the result is they make the CGI (which means nearly everything in a movie like Avatar or The Hobbit) look utterly video-fake and cartoony in exactly the same way the 48 fps Hobbit has the crappy video-ish look Vern is describing. Right afterward I watched an hour of the movie in regular 2D and everything that looked terrible in 48 fps looked perfectly normal. Actually the huge lessening of blur in fast movement in the 48fps was impressive, like when the wolves were chasing the rabbit sled. Real, non-CGI sets looked clearer and prettier in 48fps. To my eyes at least. So it really seemed like the shitty looking stuff was actually CGI stuff where the contrast was screwy, and I don’t know if that was due to the 48fps or due to side-effects of 3D glasses. I think we need a non-CGI driven, non-3D movie shot & projected in 48fps to really make a call on it.

  53. Sorry, but I have to agree with Vern about the length of this movie(s). Turning The Hobbit into a 10 hour movie is just plain ridiculous. By now it should be obvious that this decision has absolutely nothing to do with any kind of artistic choice. It’s a business model. Studios do it to make more money.

    Do you really think that last Harry Potter book was so much more dense than the others that they simply had to split the movie in two to do it creative justice? Or that last Twilight book that also just happened to get turned into two movies? And now I hear they’re doing the same thing with the last part of The Hunger Games. Wow, what a coincidence.

    The thing is, you can stretch anything into oblivion and just keep adding shit, but sooner or later it stops being a movie and starts being a soap opera. You can turn the first Die Hard into a 12 part mini-series, but that doesn’t mean you should, because if you do you’ll end up with something that seems more like a season of Prison Break and less like the lean, mean, perfectly paced action classic that it is.

    Hell, if there’s money in it, they’ll turn Animal Farm into a three picture, 10 hour epic. Classy.

    I watched The Hobbit: An Unexpected Trilogy on a 2D, non-HFR screen, and must admit that I enjoyed it way more than I thought I would. The design and photography is stunning. Special Effects look nice and expensive (the true mark of production value these days, it seems). Gollum looked good, but I didn’t really notice a massive improvement from the LotR movies. Truth be told, I think that giant albino orc looked better. I don’t have a problem with “slow” movies. Lawrence of Arabia, 2001: A Space Odyssey, The Assassination of Jesse James and anything Malick are some of my favourite films. But man, some of those scenes in The Hobbit are stretched to breaking point. All in all, I’d rather see a single three hour film directed by Guillermo Del Toro, with its own unique design and quirks, than spend 10 hours watching Lord of the Rings 2.0.

  54. I’m damn curious about this 48fps thing, and would love to see it, but unfortunately we don’t have any HFR projectors here in Cape Town.

    Sounds pretty shitty, from what I’ve heard. For some strange reason, modern cinema (and home theatre) seems obsessed with clarity. Higher resolution has become an obsession, at the cost of depth. For me, the art of cinematography has always been the ability to make a two dimensional image seem like there’s something more hidden behind it. What they’re doing these days with 3D and uber-high-definition just feels like cheating. Sooner or later films will look just like real life, and then what?

    I’ll always prefer films to have that dreamlike quality that comes with that rich, gauzy, grainy depth. That sense of mystery in the background. It’s a very important part of the hypnotic effect of cinema. To me, that’s movie magic. Not watching swarms of CG images at High Frame Rate in 3D.

    It’s good to experiment and try new things, but I worry that filmmakers are forgetting the basics they learned from a century of cinema.

  55. The original Paul

    January 2nd, 2013 at 6:10 am

    RRA – not disagreeing with you, that’s just how it seemed at the time. There didn’t seem to be a single negative opinion coming from any American reviewer, but a lot of people I know thought LoTR was just overlong and boring. I kinda agree with the first part myself but I still thought there were some parts that worked really well.

  56. I was skeptical of this movie when I went in, but by the end I was mostly enamored of it. True, Jackson beefed up the story some, and it didn’t all fit perfectly (the Radagast stuff felt a little unnecessary, but I liked the recounting of the Dwarf history in the beginning). But as others have mentioned, it felt a lot shorter than the three hour running time. The long chase scene with the goblins was also rather brilliant. Of course, I saw it in good old 24 fps 2D, so maybe that affected how much I enjoyed the overall picture. My favorite character was the tiny goblin amanuensis in the basket. He needs to get his own spinoff.

  57. That whole bit with the ballsack-chinned goblin king and his little bastard in a basket felt very Star Wars to me.

    I think some designs are just too unpleasant to belong in a family movie, like ballsack chin, and also Peter Sarsgaard in Green Lantern. That shit is not nice to look at.

  58. i actually loved the 48fps but its clear it is going to require a lot more from set/costume designers, and especially actors. its mindblowing how much more of everything, especially a performance, you see and how obvious it can be when someone isnt really on their game. its almost like watching live theater or something… my greatest hope is that someone like john hyams or yuen woo ping will shoot a balls out martial arts movie in 48fps. the amount of detail that is lost to blur during fast action scenes is huge and 48fps could revolutionize screen fights. (i believe YWP was somewhat trying to overcome this with all the slow mo ramping during the first action scene in true legend) remember those old tales about bruce lee having to slow his punches down so the camera would catch them?

    i suppose to appease the naysayers they could do a bump up to 48 for the action and keep it at 24 for everything else but that might end up even more jarring.

  59. Does it really make that big a difference in terms of visual clarity? I can’t imagine merely doubling the frame rate could have such a huge effect.

  60. I don’t understand how it changes the picture quality at all. You shoot 48, show 48 it should even out.

    All these new technologies are drawing lines in the sand. Some people already don’t like HD/Blu ray. I like that but not 3D or 48fps. At some point, can’t we just focus on making a movie so good it doesn’t matter what format it’s in?

  61. Vern, I was interested to hear your thoughts on 48fps. I still want to catch the HOBBIT PT1 while it is in theaters, but have been wrestling with seeing it in 48fps or 24fps. I feel like I should see it in 48fps because that is how Jackson intended us to view the film, but the word on 48fps has been pretty bad. Much of the reviews I have read say it ranges from unwatchable to distracting, and nobody has really had anything positive to say about the format. It seems like even the most forgiving reviews of the 48fps experience say that set design, costume design, and make up will all have to drastically change to accommodate the format. At this time they are still using the same techniques they use when shooting a film at 24fps for 48fps and at the higher frame rate with increased clarity those techniques are exposed and/or render infective. It makes sets and costumes look cheap. It is not just us the audience that are having to get used to the experience of 48fps but also the artists and craftsmen involved in the making of films that are struggling with it as well. At 48fps they are in uncharted waters, and they are going to be challenged to develop new techniques to best apply their craft to the higher frame rate. Until that happens even if our eyes get used to 48fps the experience is still going to be hampered by looking “cheap”.

  62. Yeah, I don’t buy that shit about set design, make-up, costume design, etc. having to up their game. That’s bull. I spend half my live on set these days. I see that shit with my own eyes. The sets look real, the costumes look real (because they are real). Maybe some shitty creature effects will become a bit more transparent, but shitty creature design is pretty obvious no matter what the format.

    I don’t believe the clarity of 48fps is making the production design look cheap. I think the shitty look of the format itself will make anything look cheap.

    Granted, I say this as someone who hasn’t had the 48fps experience yet.

  63. maybe its reality that looks cheap

  64. The one thing that sticks out to me with the 48fps is the camera movements don’t seem anywhere near as smooth, I suppose the lower frame rate smoothed out a lot of those tiny bumps and shakes. When the camera’s static I actually think it looks pretty good.

  65. I wanted to add one more bit to the 48 discussion.

    I know that gimmicks like this and 3D are meant to get people in the theater instead of just waiting for blu ray. The thing is, it’s just not enough of a selling point. Today, I picked up a movie on blu ray which I had wanted to see in the theater, but it didn’t work out that way. Well, the blu ray cost me $14.99 at Target. If I had seen that same movie in the theaters this summer it would have cost me $14 dollars for one ticket. Granted I live in Hollywood and my nearby theaters are probably a bit above the national average but still… For a dollar more I can watch the movie over and over again. How is 48 or 3D or Smell-O-Vision a viable business model to bring people back when the ticket prices are so disproportionate between one viewing in a theater and home ownership.

    I know I’m not necessarily saying anything we didn’t already know, but the apparent inability for studios and theater owners to “get” this baffles me.

    Sadly, their solution would probably just be to raise the price of blu rays and DVDs so that they are more in line with the outrageous ticket prices.

  66. Dtroyt: That’s true, and I’ve never thought of 3D/48fps as anything other than gimmicky cash grabs, but there’s also a lot of value in seeing the movie when it first opens and discussing it with other people. That’s really what you are paying for. Trust me, I typically have to wait weeks or months for films to come out over here (still 3 weeks until DJANGO UNCHAINED comes out) and it really, really sucks not being able to join in on the discussion on sites like this.

  67. Are people using the terms “high framerate” and “high resolution” interchangeably? I’ll have you know that they’re totally different and unrelated!

    The worst thing I heard about the 48 was that it made the film look like “it’s own porn knock-off.” (Walter Chaw, filmfreakcentral). Damn, that’s scathing. I have one of those HDTVs that will simulate 120hz by, like, slipping in an image between every two or something (sort of like a fake double framerate), and yes it makes everything look like home camcorder footage and renders shit unwatchable if you use it. If they had consulted us 120hz television owners this would never have transpired! I saw that shit in 24 frames, thank you very much.

    I liked the movie, (ahem) leisurely pace and all, a lot more than I expected to. Nice to hang out in Middle Earth again and kick it with Gollum.

  68. One of the pro-48 fps argument that always gets under my skin is that it was chosen randomly. From what i understand, in the 1920s they didn’t want to increase the fps rate because it would have been costly, but over the years there have been options for changing that rate. Television for a long time ran at 30 fps, so if people thought it was a good idea to change the fps rate over the past fifty years, then they had a competing medium as a model. In other words, 24 fps wasn’t just an arbitrary decision. Over time it became a conscious, artistic choice.

  69. Saw this in 2D when it came out and loved it, then decided to check out the HFR version today just to see what all the fuss was about. And you know what, I actually quite enjoyed it. It’s funny, when I saw the 2D version one of my biggest gripes was that it had too much CGI and felt less “real” than the orginal trilogy, since ack then they used more practical effects on the orcs and such. But in HFR all that CGI shit actually looks amazing! I don’t know what it is, but creature movements etc. looked so much more fluent that they became much more believable, I just loved the look of it.

    The one major downside to HFR seems to be the sped up feel of certain shots, but it seems to me that this issue can be avoided if they just adjust the length of shots etc. just like they do with 3D so your eyes don’t have so much trouble with it. The other big issue that people mention, namely the porn-knock-off thing, I think is bullshit. I didn’t feel like I was watching a set and actors in make-up and wigs, I felt like I was closer to the magical reality of the film.

    All in all I feel that people are really hating on this HFR thing way too much. It’s different, it has its downsides, but there’s definitely something very cool about it. I think when Cameron uses it for Avatar 2 people are going to be more positive about it.

    Finally, a thank you to CJ for mentioning the fact that Crixus did the mo-cap for Azog the Defiler. I had no idea the first time but paid special attention today and I could definitely recognize his posture now, his way of moving and certain facial expressions. Crixus the Orc. Awesome.

  70. renfield – Higher frame rate is effectively higher resolution – it’s just not frame width and height resolution. It’s more or less resolution over time. At a lower frame rate you skip portions of time, at a higher resolution that visual information isn’t skipped. Just like upping the individual frame resolution. A low res frame misses visual information between pixels, high res fills those gaps. People don’t traditionally refer to higher frame rates as resolution but that’s what it is.

    I really wouldn’t call HFR a gimmick. It’s genuine higher fidelity. , it really shows the advantage of higher frame rates.

  71. Sorry last sentence should read –

    Check this article out, it really shows the advantage of higher frame rates.

  72. “Higher frame rate is effectively higher resolution – it’s just not frame width and height resolution. It’s more or less resolution over time. ”

    Oh come on, they’re two completely different things. Framerate refers to how many images you are showing me in a given interval. Resolution refers to how detailed a given image is.

    “At a lower frame rate you skip portions of time, at a higher resolution that visual information isn’t skipped. Just like upping the individual frame resolution. A low res frame misses visual information between pixels, high res fills those gaps. People don’t traditionally refer to higher frame rates as resolution but that’s what it is.”

    You mean that the film “resolves” itself into like, a real image, so therefore you’re going to redefine what people mean when they use the terms that they use? I mean if I film an action sequence with a bunch of shakey cam, the fight moves won’t “resolve” themselves into cohesive action. Is good camerawork ALSO “resolution”? What about bad plot exposition that prevents the plot of a film from “resolving” itself into something coherent in my mind? “Hey man, I enjoyed your screenplay, it had high resolution.”

    That movie BRAINSTORM had sections of it shot on 65mm film AND at 60 fps. Would you say that those sections had “higher resolution AND higher resolution”? Or do you think maybe the term “framerate” exists for a reason?


    I had to walk away from my computer because I couldn’t stop laughing. Gawd, all that shit was so clear in 48 fps. It was the first thing I brought up after the movie finished. That and the ballsack chin. Say what you will about the “riddles-in-the-dark” sequence and how good it was. . . birdshit and ballsack definitely stood out as effects highlights.

  74. In all fairness it’s lichen though, right? On the dude’s face?

  75. My sister thought it was mold.

  76. If only I had seen more frames, I would have been able to tell!

  77. Wow, something about the timing, capitalization, punctuation, etc of Griff’s above comment really hit home for me, I was nearly in tears of mirth after reading dat shit…100% sincere, no sarcasm!

  78. While I may not be the authority on terminology I will say if you look at the end of that article I posted a link to which was written by the Red – the people that made the cameras The Hobbit was filmed with they refer to it as temporal resolution (as opposed to spatial resolution). To me, they are probably an authority on film terminology. But you can look to whatever authority you wish- Red, the dictionary, Jesus, whoever (I don’t believe the bible refers to resolution but then I’ve never read Framerates 1:1-15, maybe it’s in there).

  79. The movie was excellent i do not think you read the book i read it at least three times and the movie is very close and it would have to be this long to do the book any justice .the hobbit is the best of the series ,i do not think it is based on any real life . The books are a fantasy tale and a great one , the kind of tale that you can lost in many many people have gotten themselves lost in the books including one of the greatest rock bands of all times Led Zepplin . The only thing i did not like was the fact i have to wait for the rest .

  80. Shit, my HOBBIT blu ray cut off before they got to the dragon.

  81. Oh shit, nevermind, this is only 1/3 of the JOURNEY. How expectedly UNEXPECTED of it to end before the end, then.

    Anyway, some notes:

    -This is one of the better New Zealand tourism advertisements I’ve seen.

    -I had the same problem with THE HOBBIT as I did with the X-MEN movies and Halle Berry’s “Storm” character, who inexplicably waits until the climax, after much unnecessary carnage & conflict, to finally become useful, even though she has these awesome powers the whole time. During THE HOBBIT, I’m thinking, why doesn’t Gandalf use his powers more frequently & more purposefully? He turned those hungry giant troll things into stone pretty easily, why not work similar magic to help the dwarves beat their battlefield foes?

    -Was Stephen Colbert in this movie somewhere?

    -I needed subtitles/captions to understand some of the Gollum quiz scene.

    -Ian McKellan is noticeably older than he was for the LOTR trilogy, which is awkward for a prequel.
    Peter Jackson shoulda employed the BENJAMIN BUTTON makeup/fx crew.

    -Great line from Gandalf to Sherlock’s assistant: “You’ve been sitting quietly for far too long. Tell me, when did doilies and your mother’s dishes become so important to you? I remember a young hobbit who was always running off in search of hell-wolves in the woods.”

    -Why no flashbacks to lil Bagginses “running off in search of hell-wolves in the woods”? And don’t tell me it was edited out for time. Nothing was edited out of this thing.

    -I’m rooting for the dragon. It totally Debo’d the puny dwarves out of their home and their treasure, and it literally sleeps in a pile of gold. I respect that. #TeamDragon

  82. “I had the same problem with THE HOBBIT as I did with the X-MEN movies and Halle Berry’s “Storm” character, who inexplicably waits until the climax, after much unnecessary carnage & conflict, to finally become useful, even though she has these awesome powers the whole time. During THE HOBBIT, I’m thinking, why doesn’t Gandalf use his powers more frequently & more purposefully? He turned those hungry giant troll things into stone pretty easily, why not work similar magic to help the dwarves beat their battlefield foes? ”
    Gandalf doesn’t turn the Trolls to stone, the sunlight does. In general, he doesn’t display a lot of power willy nilly. It was the same in LOTR. I don’t know the specific reason. It may simply be a matter of energy required.

  83. Does Gandalf not do anything to those giant troll things? He shows up dramatically and posts his staff into a surface and yells something, and then they are defeated… I thought? Oh well, I guess that happened an hour into a 9 hour movie, so I can’t remember that far back.

    But yeah, I get that he’s not trying to show off his magic all the time. He displays prudence & restraint, saving up the good stuff for when he really needs it, “You shall not pass!” and all that. And the story demands that he only use it at certain times.

    But still.

    If I get dropped off at a high, steep mountain ledge miles away from my destination and there’s a wizard in my party, I’m gonna be thankful for the giant eagle chaffeurs but also pissed that the wizard doesn’t do more to make the voyage a little easier. It’s like having a friend who drives a Lamborghini, but every time you go out clubbing she insists that y’all roll in your Honda Civic.

  84. He didn’t directly do anything to the Trolls, but he did break the boulder blocking the sunlight, if I recall correctly. Which is a change from the book, where it was simply Bilbo’s stalling alone that did them in when dawn came. Also, in the original book, Gandalf’s departures went unexplained. The appendices in LOTR which make up the new subplots in these films explain where he was off too and what he was doing.

  85. You kids and your short attention span. When I grew up all the good movies lasted at least 2 1/2 to 3 hours.

  86. And we had to walk uphill both ways through the snow to see ’em. And we liked it that way! Nothing makes a boy appreciate a piece of filmed entertainment more than knowing he had to hack off a frostbite-blackened toe or two just to see it. I look down at my feet and I don’t see all the empty spots where toes used to be. I see E.T., TEMPLE OF DOOM, TRANSFORMERS: THE MOVIE, FERRIS BUELLER, LEONARD PART 6. Yeah, I’ll walk funny the rest of my life, but it was worth it, goddammit.

    Okay, maybe not LEONARD PART 6. Should have listened to my friend and gone to see OVERBOARD instead. Now there’s a toe-worthy movie.

  87. It wasn´t easy watching the movies you wanted to see either. Man, I got gipped (gypped?) out of watching TMNT and BATMAN at the cinema because of some stupid censorship shit. The kind of nonsense I still have a chip on my shoulder about.

  88. I love me some 3 hour movies. Didn’t make it clear here, but I liked THE HOBBIT a lot, despite some dangerously high expectations. I was bouncy with excitement yesterday when I started thinking about watching it. That doesn’t happen often. I was working out, staring at myself do pec butterflys, and I thought of the movie rental waiting for me next to the remote control, pleased that I had the time to watch it all in one sitting; I literally smiled & giggled uncontrollably when I imagined what all the elves & dwarves & wizards and shit were gonna look & sound like in the new Peter Jackson movie that I had refused to watch in theatres for whatever reasons. I surrendered to the good vibes of excellent fantasy filmatism, even if I never loved the literary source material.

    I got a specific, optimistic buzz from the whole ritual of prepping to watch THE HOBBIT — insert the blu ray, set the volume on the tv & speakers, fix my chair at just the proper angle, eliminate extraneous light sources from the room, check e-mail one last time, hit “play,” and lose myself in Middle Earth or wherever. It was an Event Movie, and I was quite satisfied for the whole 170 minutes. The idea of the movie put me in a good mood. The movie itself improved it.

    Coulda used more musical sequences, though.

  89. The Hobbit: Part 2 of 3: The Rise of Smaug better not have yet another scene where Gandalf whispers some shit to a moth and sends him off to look for help. I’m gonna lose my fucking mind if that happens.

  90. “During THE HOBBIT, I’m thinking, why doesn’t Gandalf use his powers more frequently & more purposefully?”

    I think Gandalf has a finite amount of power he can spend over the course of his lifetime. Therefore, the amount of magic Gandalf uses in given situation directly sheds light on how dire of a circumstance our heroes are in. Can’t spend too much of it if Sauron is going to show up in a later trilogy with all of Mordor.

    It gets more complicated when you consider that Gandalf’s stake in things is primarily to protect Middle Earth’s destiny and only is helping these Dwarves insofar as it pertains to that broader objective.

    “And don’t tell me it was edited out for time. Nothing was edited out of this thing.”


  91. David Andrews

    May 1st, 2013 at 2:15 pm

    This guy wants to talk about a feature length film being too long
    How about your review??? You didn’t play devils advocate once & managed
    To string this lopsided review out longer than “rings” & “hobbit” put together
    & clearly you were bloviating & blowing things way out purportion
    I mean we get it you think the movie was too long & some of the characters looked funny others too good!!! You just can’t be pleased… Don’t go & see the other 2 & save us all from your whinning.

  92. Knox Harrington

    May 1st, 2013 at 2:37 pm


    Just… wow.

  93. Every now and again someone from the rest of the internet find his way in here, like a cankered mutant from the radioactive wastes wandering into the world’s last free commune. Normally they just wander right back out again, dazed and vaguely resentful, unable to comprehend a society that exists without the dog-eat-dog viciousness they’ve come to rely upon to survive, but I worry that one of them will take our civility for weakness and come back with a raiding party.

  94. I’m going to assume in this case that Peter Jackson has somehow hired Albert Pyun to serve as random internet HOBBIT talkback PR liaison under the suspiciously bland alias “David Andrews.”

  95. CrustaceanHate

    May 1st, 2013 at 5:04 pm

    I picture it as something like the raiding party from MAD MAX 2, except they’re all The Toadie.

  96. Mr. Majestyk: Has it ever occurred to you that the dozen or so Self-Appointed Websight [sic] Gatekeepers ’round here (including you) might be doing Vern more harm than good due to their proprietary behavior? It’s not as though Vern’s hiding his light under a bushel… you guys are already doing that for him with your xenophobia.

    It’s one thing to be a great writer. It’s quite another to be a great writer who goes unrecognized as one.

  97. CrustaceanHate

    May 1st, 2013 at 10:51 pm

    If preferring that the site was free of illiterate mouthbreathers makes me xenophobic, then so be it. Maybe you could nominate me for membership at your next Aryan Brotherhood meeting.

  98. My question was for Mr. Majestyk, not you.

  99. actually I hate the idea of this site becoming overrun with the morons that infest most of the rest of the internet too

  100. I saw this 2D, on 24fps Blueray.

    I really enjoyed it. Yes, it’s bloated, but I can sense how much love went into every frame of the movie. Despite being so CGI-heavy, The Hobbit still has a sort of hand-crafted feeling, much like LOTR. You sense that every artist, every craftsman, every actor, etc, really poured their hearts into the movie, to transport the audience to some magical place. And Jackson of course has to take a lot of credit for that.

    Yes, despite its many problems, the film transported me. I was often in awe. I was taken to an adventure. I did see things I have not seen before.

    Really, my biggest problem with the film – BIG SPOILER HERE – is how they didn’t kill off the white orc. The film needed *some kind of* closure in the end, and finishing off the white orc storyline would have provided that. The white orc was not in the novels, and I fully expected him to exist in this film just to provide more of a single-film experience, with a proper pay-off. There wasn’t really any need for the eagles, we just needed to see Thorin and Bilbo kick the white orcs ass, working together. That was the emotional pay-off and the action pay-off the film needed.

  101. tuuka: Presumably, the White Orc will get his just desserts in the fifth movie. Don’t think the dragon’s going to bite it until the seventh.

  102. The Undefeated Gaul

    May 2nd, 2013 at 4:22 am


    I felt exactly the same way, especially because they set up the confrontation between Thorin and Azog so well with the music and Thorin’s sudden determination to turn back and face him in slowmotion. After that you expect an epic fight, but instead Thorin immediately gets beaten to a pulp and then they escape without much of a fight at all. The film needed that closure in order to be a more satisfying experience.

    Then again, doing it like that would have echoed the climax of Fellowship very closely (Aragorn walking towards the orc horde in slowmotion, then having a final fight with their leader). They probably didn’t want to do the same thing again.

    I just hope that whatever they’ve got planned for Azog’s eventual downfall, it’s something spectacular. I’m going to be pissed if he’s taken out by his own son Bolg halfway through the second movie or something like that.

  103. Larry: I really don’t know. I’m not too concerned with scaring off the likes of David Andrews, who clearly has no idea who Vern is and just did a drive-by douching wile perusing random HOBBIT reviews. Even without my exquisitely rendered takedown, I doubt Vern would be getting much repeat business from him. But I do worry that seeing a wall of responses from the same 20 commenters (including several at a shot from a wordy snarkbag like myself) could be discouraging for newbies, especially the kind of considerate, non-aggressive types who I have to hope make up the silent majority of internet lurkers.

    How do you feel about this, Vern? Is having a following as dedicated as us a curse more than a blessing? Do you think we scare off more casual readers who might boost your numbers and maybe provide some of that elusive financial recompense you deserve? I can’t speak for everyone, but I personally wouldn’t be offended if you felt that some of us needed to back off a bit to let others have a chance to speak.

  104. I disagree with the complaints at the climax. The closing for that 1st act is that Bilbo’s character has transformed from a dandy going on an adventure to man up to ultimately sympathizing with these dwarves and their very fucking personal quest for redemption and get their home back. The climax is that they’re all in the same boat now, win or fail.

    I really dont get the heavy criticism at HOBBIT part 1 of 3: Prequel to LOTR. I see usually all the big budget blockbusters, and this is a very good movie of its kind. In fact I almost consider it almost on par with the LOTR extended editions which were beautifully “bloated.”

    And I mean that in which we’re allowed to fully immerse yourself in this world, this mythology without the frantic action narrative dragging you away from smelling the roses, if you will. (Hell I honestly have a hard time watching the LOTR theatrical cuts now because of that.)

    OK there was one too many Dwarf song and that council meeting at Rivendell was draggy. But at the same time, this is the 1st act of a movie, a 9-10 hour movie. Alot of shit is set up without resolution. Well no shit kids. As for the whineyness about 3 movies instead of 2: (1) who cares? (2) what if this plan actually pays off?

    Hell considering that complaint, I’m surprised the Internet didn’t murder FOTR back when it came out. Its amazing how the same shit we trash movies for we gave a pass back then. Are we the Internet getting better or worse with how we see movies?

  105. The Undefeated Gaul

    May 2nd, 2013 at 7:18 am

    Too many dwarf songs? I thought there was only one and it was well done; a very touching tribute. I’m sure Michael Jackson would’ve appreciated it if he were still with us.


  106. Erroneous.

    There weren’t enough dwarf songs.

    There’s never enough songs.

    “Enough” is a weird word.

  107. Mouth – also title of a J-Lo movie.

  108. There were two songs. The Misty Mountains one and the one when they wash the dishes.

  109. All this talk about songs, makes me think that this is a musical. It´s not like PAINT THE WAGON,is it?

  110. The Undefeated Gaul

    May 2nd, 2013 at 7:40 am

    Ah yes, the dish washing song. That one was a bit grating. Also, not enough Michael Jackson lyrics.

  111. Everyone else has said everything smart, so I’ll just point out that the wizard warmers are, in fact, visible in LOTR: The Fellowship of the Ring, Moria sequence.

  112. I am truly thankful to the holder of this web site who has shared this wonderful article at here.

  113. Can we talk about the trailer to HOBBIT 2: HOBBIT HARDER? How does CGI get wore in 10 years?

  114. I’d wager that we’re seeing unfinished effects that were put in the trailer ahead of schedule to meet a deadline.

    Oddly, after being completely unenthused about seeing THE HOBBIT: A TOTALLY EXPECTED JOURNEY, due to having Too Soon Disease, not to mention old man eyes, I ended up liking it a lot on DVD. It’s on a par with FELLOWSHIP, I think, even down to its structure, which is to start out eye-rollingly cutesy, go see some elves, then spend the third act in a cave where everything gets 50 times more awesome. I’m looking forward to HOBBIT 2: BACK IN THE HOBBIT, but not in the cinema. It’s looking like it might be all low-res for me and Jackson from here on out, or at least until he comes to his senses and puts some film in his camera like a grown-up.

  115. The Undefeated Gaul

    October 11th, 2013 at 7:45 am

    I’m surprised they’re doing the HFR thing again. I hadn’t heard anything about it and was wondering whether they would bring it back after last years avalanche of negative feedback, but at the end of the H2 trailer it says it will be available in HFR once again.

  116. It looks the same as the cgi in hobbit 1. I think we’re seeing the best the movie has to offer.

  117. Well, I’m a cat person and I think I’m about to lose another of my 9 lives (might have 4 left?) because I am too curious to ignore this brand new 48fps HOBBIT 1 3D: HOBBIT 5: THE MIDDLEEARTH MIDDLEQUEL showing tonight.

    They’re even doing one of those 6 hour butt-numbing nerd double features, so now I’m considering recording the NFL game and getting to the theatre early to scope out part of last year’s 48fps HOBBIT 1 3D: HOBBIT 4: THE PREQUEL TRILOGY CHAPTER THE 1ST (OF 6).

    It’s been a while since I stared directly at the sun or watched the fight scenes in WARRIOR, so I figure my eyeballs are due for a bit of painful exercise. If I keep expectations low & expect to be as disgruntled as Vern at this visual technique, then maybe I’ll like the thing.

    I’m still pulling for the dragon, and I haven’t read The Hobbit since like 4th grade (Is it weird my g/t class populated with 9 year olds got assigned that book, and then a decade later at college my advanced English Lit class got assigned LOTR: Fellowship etc.?), so I don’t remember what happens. Don’t spoil it, Tolkienphiles.


  118. I actually liked the first one way more than I expected to. I guess I’m just a sucker for Jackson’s talent for completely extraneous action sequences that don’t advance the plot at all and go on way too long and are never believable in the slightest and also someone should tell him that falling hundreds of feet onto some jagged rocks is way more dangerous than he thinks it is. He could make a three-hour movie called ONE DUDE VS. ALL THESE ORCS AND SHIT ON, LIKE, A ROPE LADDER OR SOMETHING and I’d probably watch it ten times. I’ll have to find a matinee of THE HOBBIT 2: DWARVES OF FURY that’s formatted for the human eyeball, though. I’ve recently forced myself to learn how to see Blu-rays so they don’t look like OVERDRAWN AT THE MEMORY BANK but I don’t want to push my luck.

  119. Legolas The Bow-n-Arrow Badass is still the star of more than one of the best action scenes in the history of the Films of Cinema in my opinion.

    I like how Jackson stops all his movies to include a song or slo-mo musical sequence somewhere, sometimes splicing it gracefully into the flow of that part of the narrative arc, but mainly just to appease me and to set up his trailer-editors with some melodramatic movie preview fodder.

    Saw HEAVENLY CREATURES for the first time earlier this year and sure enough Kate Winslet does some weird soprano aria in a dream sequence or something. Good movie. I think there were orcs in that one, too.

  120. I saw THE HOBBIT: DEUS ELF MACHINA yesterday in regular 2D and l liked it, even more than the first one. It feels a bit more punchy and there was none of the initial weirdness I suffered with the high frame rate stuff last time. The big draw for me is the Smaug stuff, and it’s a really amazingly well done part of the movie. It does for Dragons what LOTR did for insane emaciated cave dwelling junkie types. I do think some of the action bits go on a bit too long. With Smaug, it’s understandable as they’ve been building up to him so don’t want to shortchange the audience, but with some of the other sequences I’m like “How many goddamn orcs did they bring with them?”. Gandalf’s stuff with the Necromancer felt more of a tease than a proper subplot, though I did like the way they gave a cool fresh take on Sauron’s appearance. You could also probably cut Legolas and Tauriel’s stuff out of movie, as it isn’t really plot-advancing and seems mostly for action purposes, though with this one we get to see Legolas get into a bit of a brawl. That’s different.


    The movie ends on a cliffhanger, which was jarring because that’s never been the structure Jackson’s used before in the Tolkien saga. It’s a good cliffhanger mind you, and it’ll ensure the opening of the third movie will be exciting, but it did surprise me.

  121. I liked it quite a bit. I also liked the other 4 Middle Earth movies. I don’t understand the hatred of HOBBIT 1 or HOBBIT 2 because if you liked Lord of the Rings you should like HOBBIT, it isn’t that much worse or anything. I also think people don’t appreciate HOBBIT because we now live in a world where things like comic books and whatnot get SERIOUS ADULT ADAPTATIONS FOR ADULTS. 13 years ago that was still a novelty and I think LotR benefited from that.

    Good movie. Saw it in high frame rate and I got used to it pretty quickly. The 3D wasn’t even bad. Outside of Gravity I usually hate 3D and find myself watching them with one eye closed, I managed to watch this with both open so it’s a success.

  122. Finally caught this one at the Redbox and was pleasantly surprised – the original LOTR movies never clicked with me, probably because I couldn’t get into any of the characters, the same way I couldn’t care about anyone in the Star Wars Prequels. I cared about the people in Willow, the Clash of the Titans remake, and The Rock’s Hercules more than anyone in LOTR, and those movies only had 2 hours to make me give a shit, not 9+!

    So imagine my surprise when I found myself really into Bilbo – he’s immediately a stronger, more accessible lead character than Frodo, and Freeman owns it. It’s weird to say the main character “steals the movie” but underneath all the pomp and bombast he actually manages to sneak in some humanity that the other movies lack. That great scene where he breathes a sigh of relief when the dwarves leave his house (and then chases after them) worked on me more than any “big” moment from the original trilogy. As for the rest of the movie, I agree it’s way too bloated and has tons of flaws. The videogamey action sequences are enjoyably stupid despite the special effects (and makeup) looking TERRIBLE, but I guess that’s part of the charm. This series has somehow devolved from Oscar bait to a corny-ass Medieval Times-level stage show, and I somehow love it now. It’s enjoyable when graded on a curve, the same way one enjoys an 80s hair band reunion tour or the series finale of a show where actors who have graduated on to bigger and better things come back for a farewell. “Ooh that’s cute how they shoehorned Cate Blanchett in here!” and “Wow, Christopher Lee’s still acting?” might sound like faint praise but at least this movie got a reaction out of me and a smile to my face.

    RANT: One big problem I had with LOTR is everyone talks about how the story is about how the little guy persevered and beat the big bad Sauron, etc… and i always point out that Frodo totally fell for the temptation of the Ring and he didn’t even throw it in the volcano, it accidentally fell in after rolling around with Gollum. So yeah, great moral of the story there – the little innocent guy can be corrupted just as easily as anyone else, but humanity is still saved by a dumb accident. I really like that The Hobbit fixes this, by having Gandalf suggest to Bilbo that showing mercy is more courageous than taking a life, and Bilbo subsequently spares/takes pity on Gollum. So if he had just gone ahead and killed him, there would be no Gollum in the LOTR trilogy, evil would have prevailed, and Frodo would still be prancing around with the ring on like an asshole.

  123. “Wow, Christopher Lee’s still acting?”

    Not only is he still acting, he’s still metal as fuck


  124. Well, I’m the wrong guy to try to analyze and defend the LORD OF THE RINGSES trilogy, but I remember thinking it was more about war and the effect it has on everyone it touches. That Frodo sees his ugly side and is left messed up and haunted by the whole experience is more the point than the “little guy perseveres” interpretation you’re hearing, in my opinion.

  125. They should make a movie called THE BOBBIT about he guy who got his cock sliced off.

  126. Unlike THE HOBBIT, THE BOBBIT was only chopped into two parts.


  127. Mr. S, I have no idea what to make of that link. Except 1)How the hell have I never heard of this? 2) I hope I have that much spirit left in me when I’m 92.

    Vern, yeah I like your interpretation of LOTR being about war and it’s after-effects. Maybe that’s why the epilogue is so damned long, it’s like The Deer Hunter of Middle Earth. I honestly can’t even remember if Frodo was psychologically scarred or not because, like everyone else, all I remember about the epilogue was him and his buddies jumping up and down on a bed. Also if that was Tolkien’s intent, Jackson probably doesn’t help matters since he treats war like an Expendables movie, i.e. i think only one of the LOTR crew dies and the rest of them have a pretty superhuman ability to kill hundreds of Orcs with ease.

  128. The jumping on the bed scene was from about the midpoint of the first movie, I believe, not the epilogue. Frodo was pretty fucked up by the end of the trilogy. I’m pretty sure his little boat ride with the elves was meant to symbolize suicide. He’d seen too much to continue living in this world. Better off trying out the next.

    Of course, Bilbo had the ring for like 70 years and it didn’t seem to bother him any. Young hobbits these days. No backbone.

    Also, Christopher Lee’s metal career is a source of endless inspiration to me. The fact that he even had the open-mindedness at that age (he was not a metal fan as a younger man, only being introduced to it in his 80s when hired to record some narration for symphonic metal band Rhapsody) to hear heavy metal as music and not just noise, to hear the artistry in something so foreign to his experience. I imagine playing it for my 85-year-old grandmother and having her wonder which part was meant to be the song part. And then for him to decide to create it himself, and keep it heavy as hell and still smart and funny… I mean, what do they make men like that out of?

  129. There was an interview on Swedish television a few years back with an 80 year old lady who was deep into Playstation gaming. RESIDENT EVIL and stuff. Real hard core lady. Old people sure can surprise you.

  130. I just watched it for the 3rd time in three years and it still entertains me a lot. (Although I have to say that this time the scenes in Elf town dragged a bit.)

    That’s all. Proceed.

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