As film buffs may know, this movie has been filmed at a higher frame rate than most modern-day movies (48fps versus the usual 24fps). In my opinion, the faster frame rate serves to better blend the CGI or computerized elements with the natural ones, and gives the movie an overall more cohesive feel when watching. For some, this may take some getting used to, even when watched in 2D rather than 3D, but I believe this is an overall change for the better. It works especially well when paired with Jackson’s style, and for this genre.
Speaking of 3D, I felt like the 3D effect was particularly well-used in this film. I’m not big on the “popping from the screen” tricks, but even the few included with this film were tasteful. The best use of the 3D, however, was the better sense of spatial awareness that the effect gives the viewer. When seeing a fantastic shot of the small bridges stretching across the caverns under the Misty Mountains, you really get a sense of the scope and size of the place. Peter Jackson’s understanding of how best to use the 3D camera is impressive. I usually find 3D to be a bit overbearing, with effects haphazardly done (oh yeah, we’re using the 3D camera, we should add something to make that clear), but I felt like Peter Jackson used it perfectly, and this film was well suited to its use.
As for those surprises I mentioned, “The Hobbit” borrows rather heavily from the appendices of “The Lord of the Rings” in order to fill in some of the gaps that exist in the book. For example, there are many instances in the book where Gandalf disappears, and we never know where he is. Peter Jackson fills in from the appendices to answer those questions. This not only eliminates some moments that would be awkward on film, it also helps to better tie “The Hobbit” to the events of “The Lord of the Rings” for those who have not read the books. As a fan of both the books and previous movies, I thought these scenes were particularly well done, and enjoyed their addition. At no point in the film did I feel like things were being thrown in without a great deal of thought as to why they were being included. Most were done in order to move the action along in some places, or to give a reason for various character’s actions.
For me some of the film’s highlights included:
Dwarven singing (including “That’s What Bilbo Baggins Hates!”)
Bilbo’s riddle contest with Gollum
The inclusion of Radagast the Brown (who doesn’t usually make an appearance in “The Hobbit”)
Things I didn’t particularly enjoy:
The length of the film was a bit long. There were several other places where the film could have ended, but Jackson decided to stretch it. A full 3 hours is a bit much for sitting in a crowded theater.
Overall I rate this film as a 4.5 out of 5 stars – definitely a “must-see” for any fan, and I highly recommend the 3D (which is fairly unusual for me).