Movie Review: The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey (3D 48fps Update!)

Rating: 4.5 out of 5

Two weeks ago I saw "The Hobbit" with friends in traditional 2D, and yesterday I went to the theaters again with my family--but this time in 3D high frame rate. You can check out my original review, but here's a few additional thoughts on the differences between the versions:

Only Peter Jackson could have made me care about 3D and high frame rate.

The last 3D film I watched was "Spy Kids 3D: Game Over" over nine years ago. Even at 13-years-old, I knew that everything about that movie sucked. My mind lumped in the crappy technology with every other crappy element--plot, dialogue, character development, etc. Thus, despite the Elijah Wood cameo in "Spy Kids," I never felt inclined to see another 3D film.

That is, until I started hearing about the revolutionary advances that Jackson's team was making with "The Hobbit." I was intrigued watching behind-the-scenes footage of the overly vibrant sets and costumes, and I decided that if anyone was going to make me fall in love with 48fps, it would be the director that made my favorite story come to life.

The technology is worth the hype.

To my pleasant surprise, 3D glasses aren't made with red and blue lenses anymore! Why didn't I let it sink in that a LOT has happened with 3D technology in nine years? Mea culpa. I guess that I put off trying the experience out again for so long because of the fact that I wore glasses, and I didn't feel like wearing another pair over my own. It's been almost a year since my LASIK surgery, and it certainly makes watching something in 3D more enjoyable. (If only the frames actually fit people's faces! One disadvantage was that mine kept slipping down my nose.)

Despite the ill fit, I was blown away by the differences in visual effects. From the dizzying effect as the dwarves escaped the goblins in the mountain to the fluttering of every feather of the eagles, the high frame rate made everything feel so real. I've had issues with certain films on Blu-Ray players, for example, because it's like watching a poorly lit soap opera, but seeing "The Hobbit" again was like looking through a window. If you're worried about 48fps making things too crisp and losing the fantasy vibe, I give you permission to be relieved!

Ultimately, your opinion will not change, only deepen.

I've skimmed the negative reviews that litter the Internet, including those at Rotten Tomatoes and Slate. I've come to the conclusion that the advanced technology will, in the end, not make that much of a difference in how you view "The Hobbit." If you're like me, and absolutely loved the previous trilogy with every fiber of your being, then the prequels will be worthy of your admiration. Nothing compares to LOTR, but my geeky friends and I were happy campers.

That being said, if you're some Michael Bay fanboy who prefers boobs and explosions, then a three-hour fantasy epic will never win you over, no matter how innovative. Most of the complaints came from critics who never cared much for Tolkien or had never read his books. (Slate's Dana Stevens even admitted that she resisted any literature that contained wizards. You're telling me you couldn't find an actual fan on your staff? Next!)

Conflict of interests aside, I'll respect a movie adaptation review so much more if the critic read the book first. I'm not saying it should be required (because goodness knows I haven't always had the time to squeeze the novel in before my theater excursion), but fans of "The Hobbit" will appreciate criticism from someone who's familiar with Middle-earth versus someone who whines about all the singing.