I did not enjoy the first of the Hobbit films. In particular I thought that the use of the new 48 frames per second HFR (High Frame Rate) technology completely ruined the telling of the story. It looked horrendous. After seeing it I feared for the other two films in the trilogy – could such a small book warrant so much screen time?
Now the second Hobbit film is here. My local cinema has a newly installed IMAX screen and this is the first film to be shown. I didn’t actually know that this was going to be HFR – I thought I’d avoided it by going IMAX, so as I pulled on my oversize 3D glasses I felt a chill down my spine when “HFR” came up on the screen as the film was starting.
In the first few scenes I was concerned. But then the feeling evaporated, I only noticed it a couple of times more. The technology has improved, possibly helped by the larger screen – but it’s more than that. This is a much better film. The story-telling is to the fore. You are dragged in and nearly three hours goes past as if it were minutes. The extra time allows for an immense showdown between Bilbo, the band of dwarves and a truly fearsome, magnificent dragon. I have no idea how long it lasted. It was astounding.
And then it was over.
The wait starts now for the final installment – this time with no trepidation. I could have sat there watching longer.
IMAX is definitely the way to see this film. The image quality is pristine. The sound is massive, particularly highlighting the musical score. I have all the soundtracks from the Lord of the Rings films, and I still listen to the powerful Return Of The King album. I may have to get this soundtrack too. The music is always best when the story becomes darker and evil comes ever closer.
The film is not perfect – it still suffers from “star overload”. No matter how they are dressed or disguised, Stephen Fry and James Nesbitt stand out awkwardly. It spoils the film to a degree. You start to appreciate the lesser known cast of the Lord Of The Rings films. The director can coax better performances from Orcs, animated spiders and a CGI dragon.
Overall, this is a much better film than the first and deserves to be experienced on the biggest possible screen you can.