, Derry, New Hampshire


December 21, 2012

'The Hobbit' proves to be one troll of a movie


The unnatural ugliness of 48fps resulted in the biggest headache I’ve had in theaters this year. Yes, it makes images crisper and clearer, but only when both the camera and the images are static. This means that still-shots of landscapes look lovely; everything else made me want to scoop my eyes out with a melon baller.

Whenever the camera or characters move, the result is a hideous blend of abnormal fluid motion and sped-up visuals. Much of the film looks like an overly adjusted, cranked-to-the-max HDTV on display at department stores showcasing the latest video game.

Every action scene feels like it is missing the “Benny Hill” theme playing over the soundtrack. I could never get used to this technique. And it frightens me to think it could become the future of filmmaking aesthetics. About an hour in, two theater-goers tore off their 3D glasses and stormed out of the theater. I wanted to join them. A colleague actually did leave mid-movie -- presumably to vomit.

Since this technique is being shown in “select theaters,” the majority of audiences will be spared at least the 48fps agony. And yet, “The Hobbit” isn’t worth seeing anywhere. The fact that it runs just short of three hours makes matters much, much worse.

“An Unexpected Journey” is only the first film in yet another planned trilogy. And the book is only 320 pages, so Jackson fills the story with unnecessary subplots, along with constant winks and nudges at past films, though this is intended to be a prequel.

The wizard Gandalf (Ian McKellen) returns in a role where his powers are selective. In one scene, he, Bilbo, and a gathering of dwarves run for their lives from a small army of Orcs (you know, those ugly things). Yet in another scene, Gandalf rescues the entire crew from goblins simply by slamming his staff into the ground.

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