The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey is in the news again, but maybe not for the right reasons.
Rather than going into the acting, the pace or the film’s faithfulness to Tolkien’s original, critics tend to get hung up on Peter Jackson’s unusual choice to film at 48 frames per second, instead of the industry standard of 24. While the visuals in this first installment of the trilogy are no doubt spectacular, the reviews are split so far. Wired magazine’s Hugh Hart calls Peter Jackson’s vision “insanely gorgeous”, while critics from The Independent and The Telegraph, among others, have panned the film, calling it “kitsch and alienating”.
The main criticism here is that the high frame rate exposes the production techniques, making the film look cheap and garish. Jackson himself defends the film, by saying that there are always those, who resist changes, but that the audience will be the ultimate decider for The Hobbit. The director goes on to say that he isn’t expecting the Tolkien adaptation to take any of the big awards this season, except maybe for the visuals and production quality.
This seems like quite limited praise for a film as highly anticipated as The Hobbit, but, with fans as devoted as the faithful “ringers”, “Tolkienists” and other such ridiculous designations, the film is set for a healthy amount of sales and probably a good run in the box office charts – 48 frames or not.