The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey ★★★★½

This time in 3D HFR. I felt the same as before about the movie in general.

The HFR was a mixed bag. It was really noticeable to me in the first thirty minutes or so (the prologue with Bilbo and Frodo, the flashback to Smaug's arrival at Erebor, and the dwarves coming to Bilbo's house), and while I can see the soap opera/Masterpiece Theatre comparisons, what it looked like to me was historical re-enactments in made-for-TV documentaries (History Channel type stuff). I guess I got used to it later on, but that look and feeling would flood back now and again, especially on interiors and inset close-ups. Wide-angle exterior shots looked much better.

Probably the only time I'd say that I noticed the HFR in a GOOD way, though, was in the dwarf/orc fight outside Moria. That looked amazing, and I think it looked amazing because of the HFR. Later action scenes didn't quite benefit as much - the goblin fight was rather difficult to see, but I think that was because of the 3D and quicker editing (I didn't see the 3D non-HFR version, so I can't say whether this would've been worse in 3D without HFR or not - possibly the HFR made it better than it would've been without).

Based on this single example, I'm not willing to totally dismiss HFR, but nor am I convinced that it's unequivocally better than 24fps. It seems to have specific shot types that it works better for, while other scenes are served just as well or better at a lower frame rate. I'd also like to see a feature-length example of it divorced from 3D, because a lot of the visual discomfort and distractions I did experience I think were due to the 3D (despite its overall subtlety in the film) rather than the HFR.

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