When you add a new technology to a theater going experience, you should be adding to the immersion of the audience into the film. With Avatar and its shiny new 3D, folks were totally immersed and felt like they were in Pandora.
The technology in this instance saved a thin narrative, turning it into an almost theme park ride, and people couldn’t wait to get in line and ride it again.
Now we are faced with the newest advancement 48fps. This is essentially doubling the frame rate of a film to give an added sense of fluidity or realism. At least that is what Peter Jackson wanted. What we got is something quite different and this is probably due to three main factors.
First off doubling the frame rate changes your minds perception of what you are seeing. You have been trained from day one to register the flicker of 24 frames as a theatrical film and anything more than that as video. Most folks seem to compare the look of The Hobbit to a HDTV broadcast of a BBC Miniseries, and this is due to the combination of the more fluid frame rate and the next factor.
The 48fps version can only be shown on a digital projector. This nifty little upgrade to increase frame rate cost theaters “several thousand” per screen. So most theaters are banking on this to be the next big thing. This high frame rate could only be shown digitally due to the mechanical constraints on actual film projectors. If film were attempted to be run that fast the projector, it would simply destroy the celluloid as it passed through the machine.
Now for the final factor, thanks to the superfluid, super high-resolution digital image you are seeing and all the special effects required to create the world of Middle Earth, everything has a very artificial look to it. If an actor looked the wrong way and you got a look at a makeup seem or the lighting was off on a set, you immediately pick that up and are pulled out of the film. This makes it hard to really focus because your eyes are instantly drawn to these imperfections.
All these factors coupled with some really poor 3D really sums up my experiences trying to watch this film. I say “trying”, because every time I almost settled down into Middle Earth I would once again get reminded that I am simply watching a movie. I honestly cant give you an honest opinion on the film, because of this.
Hopefully I will be able to check it out in the normal 24fps, because the folks that saw it that way said it was pretty good.