Movies: The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey (in 2D at 24 fps)

You may recall I first saw and reviewed this film in IMAX 3D at 48 fps. So I'm not going to go through everything again, at least not as far as plot is concerned. What I've said before stands: they've tried to take a small story and make it more epic, have really tried to make The Hobbit into The Lord of the Rings. It is not. And does not thrive for being stretched and pulled like so much taffy. But whatever.

What I can say in favor of watching this film the "old-fashioned way" is that it is far less headache- and nausea-inducing when viewed in 2D and at the "normal" frame rate. And while parts of it still look like rides at Disneyland, the cartoonish and fake feeling, the sense of being on a small film set, is far reduced here.

I did detect, however, the difference in the wide outdoor scenes, the blurring that comes when the camera is forced to move quickly. While I can applaud the cinematic efforts of Jackson and Co. for their attempts to make New Zealand that much more attractive (by being less blurry in fight scenes?), I don't think there are enough such moments to justify the higher frame rate that detracts from the rest of the film.

Okay, and maybe just a couple things about the plot. Does Gandalf really have to say, "you fools" in every movie? Is that a "thing" now? Seems gimmicky, a kind of fan service that backfires when people take notice. And geek fans always take notice.

And really. That council meeting in Rivendell . . . Again, the attempt to build a bigger, more sinister plot, and to tie these films to The Lord of the Rings . . . Also, Gandalf, Elrond, and Galadriel must be the Worst. Protectors of Middle-earth. Ever. if they can't figure out Saruman is evil. Seriously. I mean, we all know Gandalf is fallible. He knows it too, and that's what worries him—that others rely on him so much when he's not perfect and not always capable. But please at least tell me that at least one of them can pick up on Saruman's evil intent? Or give me a reason why they cannot, why they would deny or refuse to believe it, or why they would keep it to themselves if they did suspect.

I guess of all the options it's most likely they don't want to see or believe it. Rulers are like that. They want to pretend all is well because to do otherwise is, in their minds, to invite trouble. What they don't want to acknowledge is that trouble has already invited itself to dinner, so one must prepare a place for it at the table. Gandalf more or less says as much when he counters their arguments that all is peaceful in Middle-earth by pointing out all that is not peaceful. But still and all, the whole meeting is a bit overwrought with this need to fashion a much bigger story from more than just the book itself, instead dragging in all the ancillary material as so much embroidery. Truth is, some things in this world benefit from additional decoration. But some things are lovelier when left plain and simple.

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