The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug (2013)
December 18, 2013 2 Comments
One of the main reasons I went to the first of the Hobbit films in the theatre (in 3D no less) was to see what this high frame rate thing was all about. Apparently Fargo wasn’t on the cutting edge here as it turned out not to be in HFR. And even though I generally disliked the first as harmless but bloated and lacking in any real emotion or stakes with its video-game aesthetic and surprise salvation, I decided the promise of the HFR experience this time was worth another visit.
Smaug is in some ways a slower, more serious film. It doesn’t have the long prelude organizing the band (it also doesn’t have awesome dwarf song) but it also doesn’t seem to have as many action scenes. Even though I’m not sure I really cared, I appreciated the dynamics well enough. The central action sequence, a barrel ride down a river, totally feels like an amusement park ride…arguably every bit as problematic as the goblin caves of the first film, yet in this case it is so completely sold for fun that I went along with it. On the whole, I just appreciated what is here much better.
But this is still a pretty problematic film. The HFR does, as is noted about it often, make things look chintzy. It does seem to help the 3D a bit but every few minutes there is something that just jumps out as seeming a little out of place from the cinematic scope. The film still feels a bit big, all the stuff focused on tying into Lord of the Rings rather than the dwarves’ quest, feels distracting. The most obnoxious though is where the film ends, which is to say, it doesn’t. I know there is a third part, but where the film ends feels like there is about 15 minutes left, not well over two hours. It feels like the climax of the film is just clipped right in the middle. The film needed to stop earlier or later, but definitely not where it did. Now that I’ve had my HFR experience, I think I’m comfortable sitting out the final installment until it hits DVD.