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Today's Box Office: Concerning Hobbits | News

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Today's Box Office: Concerning Hobbits

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (KTHV) -- THV's film critic Jonathan Nettles shares his thoughts on the movies coming out this weekend including The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey.

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey is an interesting idea. Interesting in that the Lord of the Rings trilogy was a groundbreaking piece of filmmaking. From set design to landscapes, costuming to forced perspective, it forced the filmmakers to use all of their creative abilities to make the world of Middle Earth come to life. The Hobbit brings those ideas back to life and adds another piece to it in the form of 3D and a high frame rate.

I'm sure you've heard about it by now. The standard frame rate for film is 24 frames per second. Television is around 30. Director Peter Jackson shot The Hobbit at double that standard rate (48 frames per second). The idea behind it was to eliminate the motion blur caused by 3D filming and give the viewers a newer clearer picture. There aren't many theaters that have the capability to reproduce the effect and there's only one in Arkansas. It worked almost too well. What I saw was perhaps the clearest images I've ever seen on a movie screen and the 3D effects were outstanding but the drawback is that it appears to be too real. It's too clear and it distracts from the film itself. What would have looked like an amazingly realistic landscape in Lord of the Rings now looks like an amazingly realistic set piece. The flaws of motion captured CG that were hidden by a lower frame rate are now painfully obvious. If this is the future of the theater experience then it's going to take a few films to get used to it. Hopefully by the time The Hobbit sequels roll around Peter Jackson will get it dialed in a little better.

As far as the story goes, it just didn't have the same magic as Fellowship of the Ring. The story felt much brighter, even the scenes that took place in caves seemed very bright and cheerful, very rarely did the tone seem ominous and very rarely did you really believe that one of our heroes might be in real danger. The highlight of the film is the battle of wits between our unexpected hero, Bilbo Baggins and the menacing in a cute way Gollum. It's a roughly 10-minute sequence that sets up the events of The Lord of the Rings.

My biggest dilemma now is wishing I was able to compare my high frame rate viewing to a standard frame rate. I'm just not sure I want to sit through it again.