I made the mistake of seeing the first installment of Peter Jackson’s The Hobbit in its awful High Frame Rate incarnation. I should have known better. The Lord of the Rings Trilogy was spectacular in regular old 2D, 24 frames per second. I didn’t leave the theater saying, “That was great, but I wonder what it would have looked like at double the frame speed?” Still, I bought into the hype of this new technology and trusted that Jackson knew what he was doing. He said this was going to be the future of cinema! But as soon as the film started, I was distracted by its paradoxical hyper-realism. This was not the magical world I fell in love with 10 years earlier–this was a set, and an expensive one at that, and my premium ticket was now going to help pay for it.
HFR pretty much killed any enjoyment of The Hobbit movie for me. I was already annoyed that they were stretching out one book into another trilogy, so this seemed like one more money grab. I’ve been meaning to watch it again in standard format, but haven’t been able to muster the enthusiasm. That could change with the release of the trailer for the next film, The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug. First impression: Lots o’ Legolas, much more than I would have expected for a character who isn’t even in the book; the dwarves don’t seem nearly as annoying this time around; and Evangeline Lilly (“Lost”) as the elven warrior Tauriel looks so much like Liv Tyler (at least the elven version) that I actually thought it was her for a moment. But if there’s one reason to see this film, it’s for the dragon, Smaug. I almost didn’t think we were going to see him, but near the end of the trailer we get an extended head shot, though not the voice. I have to say, I was a little underwhelmed (What’s with the glowing red eyes?). It might have been better to just hear his voice (the always excellent Benedict Cumberbatch) and save the reveal for later. Still, I know I’ll be seeing this in December. Just not in HFR.