The Hobbit film looks like 'a 70s soap opera' say critics

Apr 26, 2012

Director Peter Jackson speeds up projector for preview of new film, but critics are horrified

Warner Bros

FILM BUFFS have reacted with horror after director Peter Jackson showed a ten-minute sneak preview of his new film The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey. Rather than be blown away by the enhanced camera technique Jackson has employed for the new blockbuster, viewers complained that the film looks like a "made-for-TV movie".

Screened at CinemaCon in Las Vegas, The Hobbit preview had been trailed as a cinema first. Projected at 48 frames per second rather than the industry standard speed of 24fps, it was supposed to offer sharper screen action and a clearer 3D experience.

It did exactly that, but the preview still went down badly. Critics remarked the quickened frame pace was "strange" and "jarring", and likened the film to a 70s soap opera.

"Higher frame rates are used for things like home video, soap operas, and reality TV," tech site Gizmodo remarked. The film's change of pace was "extremely disorienting" for the audience.

"It's a subtle change, but one that makes a huge difference. Your favourite shows all of a sudden look like amateur productions. It is very unpleasant."

A film projectionist at the event told the LA Times that The Hobbit looks "like a made-for-TV movie".

"It was too accurate - too clear. The contrast ratio isn't there yet - everything looked either too bright or black," he said.

Meanwhile The Wrap's Brent Lang likens the clip to a "filmed stage play", suggesting 48 fps made each scene "too crisp, if that's possible".

He adds: "As for the footage itself, Jackson screened shots of epic battles... that showed that he still has a knack for finding the narrative heart in J.R.R. Tolkein's dense mythological landscape. If only it looked a little more like a movie."

However, not everyone was carping. Wired magazine sprang to Jackson's defence, saying 48fps is "poised to define the future of 3D movies". The technique is not yet "a slam dunk" - but quicker frames will eventually "produce a smoother, crisper cinematic experience".

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Big shame if Jackson doesn't go back and make a few tweaks as it'll be a terrible missed opportunity...