The highly anticipated The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey is a whimsical, entertaining, and visually beautiful film. It is a lot of fun, however this fun is being overshadowed by a lot of critical controversy. The controversy largely stems from only two of Peter Jackson’s decisions: to shoot the film at an incredibly high film rate, 48 frames per second, rather than the usual 24 frames per second; and to take what is a relatively straight forward children’s story and turn it into a trilogy, making An Unexpected Journey largely exposition.
What do these things mean for you?
Well, unless the theater you go to is equipped to handle the high frame rate which Jackson intended, this groundbreaking and highly controversial decision will mean absolutely nothing to you. This technique has been both applauded for allowing the viewer to see a level of detail which was previously impossible in film and criticized for being so high def that you can see the zippers on the costumes.
However, it is highly possible that the majority of the people who see The Hobbit will have their visual experience of the film defined more by the use of 3D, which the majority of theaters are equipped to handle. In the mainstream, 3D has largely become a cheap gimmick to try and create a false sense of visual interest in films that don’t actually have interesting about them. The Hobbit is far from that. The 3D is used very well and really pulls you into the world of Middle Earth.
Also coming under fire, is the decision to turn a 267 page children’s book into three nearly three hour films. If you are a Tolkien fan, it becomes glaringly obvious in An Unexpected Journey that Jackson added two subplots that are nowhere to be seen in the actual book. Unlike the Lord of the Rings trilogy, which condenses over 1000 pages of text into a similar cinematic structure, these films are going in the exact opposite direction.
It is understandable to be suspicious of this, as Hollywood is known for churning out low quality and stupid franchise films rapid-fire to make as much money as possible.