Should you see The Hobbit in 48fps?

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

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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