–Spoiler-free– (and yes that’s me)
Just got out of the THE HOBBIT. In a word, it was FANTASTIC. The story so far is really exciting and filled with the best characters. I can’t imagine anyone but Martin Freeman playing young Bilbo Baggins. Ian McKellen is back as Gandolf and he’s better than ever. And all 13 dwarves have their own distinct ways about themselves that I appreciate. The little men are led by Thorin Oakenshield, played by Richard Armitage, and he’s already a favorite. It was great seeing old characters return as well–Ian Holm (old Baggins), Elijah Wood (Frodo), Hugo Weaving (Elrond), Cate Blanchett (Galadriel), Christopher Lee (Saruman), Bret McKenzie (Lindir). And who can forget Gollum; Andy Serkis has perfected the once-human creature here. He looks incredible (especially his giant blue eyes and sharp mouth) and the scene in which he encounters Bilbo has to be my favorite one. It’s a mix of fear, humor, and curiosity. An honorable mention goes to composer Howard Shore whose original score for the film borrows classic sounds from LOTR but also adds a new layer of epic proportions (if you don’t have the dwarf song “Misty Mountains” stuck in your head when you’re walking out then something’s wrong). In the end I felt fully satisfied (I never thought I’d be returning to Tolkien and Jackson’s Middle Earth) and yet I was left with a wanting feeling for more. One down, two to go. Bilbo is going on an adventure, and I’m all in.
I saw the movie in 3D in 48 frames per second, or what Peter Jackson is calling High Frame Rate (HFR). First off, 3D was effective on all accounts: the depth it added to the picture had me immersed the entire time. The HFR took some getting used to. When the film starts right off the bat you notice that something is, well, “off” with the picture. One, it’s as if you’re watching a super HDTV–the sharpness and crispness and vividness of the picture is starkly different than anything I’ve ever experienced before in theatres. But in a good way. There are many scenes in the film that take a birds-eye view of vast landscapes all around Middle Earth and the HFR injects a sense of hyper-realism into these shots. My jaw dropped more than once upon witnessing such beautiful scenes. However, this new technology can be jarring at times in a not-so-good way. In the opening scene, when old Bilbo is in his hole in the ground writing his book for Frodo, his movements are fluid but the 48 frames make it seem as if he’s speeding through the process. It’s as if someone pressed the “fast-forward” button on the remote. And this is noticable throughout the film, especially during fast-paced action sequences. When things slow down (or during the aforementioned birds-eye shots) this is not as noticable. Some critics argue that the 48 frames takes away from the mistique of the movie. THE HOBBIT is a fantasy and the hyper-realism removes the layer of mystery by attempting to make things that aren’t real (i.e. orcs, trolls, giant flying birds), look real. Friends of mine compared it to how video game cut scenes look. I’m not sure if I totally agree with that, however. All in all, I say if you have the opportunity to visit a theatre that’s playing the movie in 48FPS you should absolutely experience it for yourself. Though I never really got used to the effect–which has its advantages (super HD crystal clear picture) and disadvantages (the “fast-forward” effect)–I was truly mesmorized and found myself lost in Middle Earth until the credits rolled at the end. Is 48FPS the future of movies like Jackson predicts? It’s too early to tell. Is the effect too much for a movie with fantasy roots? Perhaps. But in the end it’s worth it because it’s always fun to try new things.
In the words of Mr. Ebert, THE HOBBIT gets two big thumbs up and I highly recommend you go on the wonderfully crafted journey.
Though the first movie in the Hobbit trilogy hasn’t even come out yet, it already feels like we’ve been on one unexpected and wild journey. Since April 2011, director Peter Jackson periodically dropped production video blogs that brought Lord of the Rings fans behind-the-scenes on the making of his next foray into Middle Earth. Each one explores a different aspect of filmmaking–from the logistics of location shooting to lessons in shooting in 3D–that culminates in an inside look at the grueling yet rewarding post-production process. Taken as a whole, the nine vlogs show just how much effort and sheer amount of hard work went into the making of the Hobbit movies.
And with just a few days until The Hobbit lands in theatres in the States, Mr. Jackson was able to slip one more massive video into our hands. A new 13-minute featurette, embedded above, takes us behind the scenes one more time before the adventure begins. In addition to Jackson you’ll hear from many of the actors, producers, and other creatives behind the making of the film. You’ll also be introduced to new characters, get a better sense of the story, and witness colorful concept art and new footage.
Return to Middle Earth this Friday, December 14 when The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey makes its grand debut.
This week Warner Bros. dropped the second official trailer for the first of three Hobbit films in Peter Jackson’s arsenal. More dwarves, more Gandalf the Grey, more Bilbo Baggins, and yes, more Gollum. Watch it here.
The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey hits theatres December 14, 2012.
On the fifth of July Lord of the Rings director Peter Jackson hopped on Facebook to post the image you see above and tagged it with this: “We made it! Shoot day 266 and the end of principal photography on The Hobbit. Thanks to our fantastic cast and crew for getting us this far, and to all of you for your support! Next stop, the cutting room. Oh, and Comic Con!” Having followed all of Jackson’s production video blogs this a giant sigh of relief for the production team and fans alike. Part one An Unexpected Journey is on track to release December 14, 2012; one year later part two There and Back Again comes out.
Also posted to Facebook is a beautiful image you can see after the break: a brand new poster designed specifically for Comic Con fans to collect at the con later this week. It features Gandolf standing high above The Shire where the unexpected journey begins with our friend Bilbo Baggins. Check back here for the latest on The Hobbit movies as more details surrounding the highly anticipated prequels come out of the con. (Click here for more…)
After four extensive behind-the-scenes looks at Peter Jackson’s upcoming sequel two-fer The Hobbit, the Lord of the Rings mastermind has finally released a full-length trailer. Return to The Shire in this beautifully edited clip embedded above. Part 1, An Unexpected Journey, hits theatres next December the 14th.
Jump after the break and you’ll find the explosive second trailer for Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight Rises and sneak peek at Ridley Scott’s sci-fi thriller Prometheus. Update: The full-length Prometheus teaser awaits. (Click here for more…)