Should you see The Hobbit in 48fps?

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CNET Editor

Nic Healey can usually be found on a couch muttering about aspect ratios and 7.1 channel sound - which is helpful given that he's the home entertainment guy at CNET.

We've told you where to find The Hobbit in 3D high frame rate (HFR), but the question is whether you should watch that version.

Like dwarven pies, 3D HFR is an acquired taste.
(Credit: New Line Cinema)

While we're waiting for The Hobbit to launch in Australia, the US has already had An Unexpected Journey hit their screens, and the verdict on the 3D HFR version has been, well, mixed, to say the least.

Some critics have savaged it. The Slate said it looks like an "'80s-era home video shot by someone who happened to be standing around on-set while The Hobbit was being filmed", and said that the film would be remembered as an "early, failed experiment" in 48fps film.

The Verge called it "downright terrible", and likened it to a "Renaissance faire re-creation shot on your brother's mini-DV camera".

But critics — what do they know, right?

On Twitter (obviously the hallmark of right-thinking people everywhere), the reception has been a little better, with searches for both "Hobbit 48fps" and "Hobbit HFR" throwing up more positive comments than negative.

But Variety pointed out that the opening weekend box-office take — a suitably absurd US$223 million — was mostly from the standard 2D version. The 3D HFR version was only 49 per cent of the viewings, which is smaller than expected.

Our US colleagues at CNET are running a poll for people who've seen the film, asking them to comment on the 48fps technology. At the time of writing, 45 per cent said that they enjoyed the effect of the HFR, but 30 per cent said that they'd just watched the regular 24fps version. Only 16 per cent were actively negative toward the film, and 9 per cent just plum didn't care. Our reviewers, on the other hand, were divided.

Despite Peter Jackson's assurances to Entertainment Weekly that you only need 10 minutes or so to get used to HFR, this doesn't seem to be the case. If we had to make a judgment based on what we've read, we'd say this: geek and tech aficionados are excited by the HFR and enjoying it, while people better described as film buffs are finding it jarring and upsetting.

So, should you see The Hobbit in 3D HFR? We say yes — it's a fascinating new technology, and we're excited to see it. But if you're genuinely worried that you won't enjoy it after reading what some reviewers have said, sneak into a regular showing. We promise we won't tell Peter.

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tarsee posted a comment   

The Hobbit looked great in IMAX 3D.
People should stop complaining about the 48 fps and complain more about the cringe worthy banter between Frodo and Bilbo at the start.


kettleblack posted a comment   

Found HFR to be amazingly intimate, it does draw you into the film. As for the action sequences, I was blown away.
None of the painful stuttering panning shots full of motion blur that you get with standard film (24 fps). The visuals were crystal clear, and the ability of HFR to capture detail is amazing, Thorin's ring, Gandalf's sparkling silver scarf...etc.


EarlN posted a comment   

From my understanding, HFR wasn't made available in 49% of the cinemas - I thought the number was much lower than that. From your numbers, wouldn't it seem that the HFR was drawing a lot of the audience share? If you can only see HFR in 25-30% of the theaters, but it's pulling nearly half the money, that'd be a pretty big share, no?


SanchayanS posted a comment   

I saw the film in real 3D, HFR 3D, and 2D.. all three gave me new experiences and since HFR is new i wouldnt criticize it and think it s a commendable effort by the studio ..

Regarding the film i have no complains.. absolutely loved the 30 minutes shire scene with kitchen – dwarvish work which clearly felt like tolkien and at times elevating what tolkien produced in the book .. The narration of Ian Holm was beautiful and straight away immersed me into the film. The introduction of shire made me nostalgic and tears to my eyes..

The casting was brilliant , Freeman , Armitage , Serkis and Mckellen were brilliant with a terrific script they were wonderful..

I am particularly pleased by the score and i think Howard shore was brilliant as usual.. Overall the film is beautiful and i will give it a 4.5/5.. and i am waiting for the next two epics


DanielP3 posted a comment   

critics are usually that, critics they will find something to complain about. in this case its seeing something clearly. sounds like a stupid thing to complain about.


Im Batman posted a comment   

The HFR takings of 49% isn't "half" bad, considering that the HFR is not available in all cinemas.

Not sure which version i will go see, tough call... would like to think the HFR
What is the price difference going to be here at the cinemas?

Find the critic responses interesting "80s era home video" ... i don't think 80s home videos looked this good with 4K resolution!!

It is surpising that the HFR can create such an effect... maybe the critics are right and this will be remembered as an early HFR failure.
But atleast it appears they recognise that its a good thing /here to stay and have voiced how it can be "corrected".

Does the HFR version have the usual amusement park ride warnings, do not view if you are ceptable to motion or pregnant!!!

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