In the first frames of The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, the camera briefly lingers on a pair of hands in close-up as they light a candle. As the small flame flares, the camera pulls back to show the aged Bilbo Baggins (Ian Holm), and the seemingly mundane sequence concludes with a shot that might be unlike anything else you’ve ever seen in a theater.

Peter Jackson shot The Hobbit on digital cameras that captured images at 48 frames per second. That 48fps speed, which we’ll refer to as High Frame Rate (HFR) from here out, is twice the long-held industry standard 24fps. The benefits of HFR include reduced or eliminated motion blur, and a notable increase in general clarity. The downside is that HFR doesn’t look exactly like cinema, or at least not like anything typically projected on film screens.

With those downsides noted, consider this, too: that first shot of Ian Holm as Bilbo has more visual information than any shot of the actor in any other film. He appears to be in the same room with the audience. Details of Holm’s hair (a wig), his prosthetic ears and well-designed wardrobe are impossible to miss. It feels, at first, as if it’s impossible to miss anything, so clear is the picture.

Weird, that such heightened clarity should anger so many cinephiles. Read More »

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Not surprisingly, today’s tidbits begin with Star Trek Into Darkness. After the jump:

  • Simon Pegg is laughing at your Star Trek fan theories
  • You can count out Danny Boyle for Bond 24
  • Clerks III already has a 70-page outline
  • Andy Serkis talks The Hobbit and Apes
  • A Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy sequel is coming 
  • Barbara Hershey will return for Insidious 2
  • Wolverine, X-MenApes, and Percy Jackson go 3D

Read More »

Why will you only be seeing the Star Trek Into Darkness prologue in front of digital IMAX screenings of The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey? Because the film is so long, an extra nine minutes likely couldn’t fit on a platter. Peter Jackson‘s film is just under 3 hours, with credits, so it’s literally a mass of celluloid that pushes the boundaries of what IMAX projectors can physically show.

The Dark Knight Rises was a similar length; it ran 50 reels and weighed 600 pounds when fully assembled. However The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey is also in 3D, which means it’s that double that, and an IMAX employee took a photo of the film arriving in the mail. All 98 reels of it. It’s staggering. Check it out below. Read More »

It’s well established by now that studios are willing to pay a high premium for established brands — books, TV shows, board games, really anything that might sound remotely familiar to moviegoers. When the investment pays off, we get record-breaking gems like The Avengers. But when it doesn’t, studios and moviegoers lose hundreds of millions on stinkers like Battleship.

What if, then, you could capitalize on recognizable names without actually paying for any rights? That’s what an outfit called The Asylum is doing. Their newest direct-to-DVD “mockbuster” is Age of the Hobbits, a hilariously low-rent affair that has nothing whatsoever to do with Peter Jackson‘s The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey. Unfortunately for them, a court has now blocked Age of the Hobbits‘ planned December 11 release, citing the “likelihood” of consumer confusion. The trailer after the jump offers a peek at star Bai Ling and the other goofy delights we’ll be missing.

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Yesterday we saw an image billed as the first from The Hobbit: There and Back Again, which is the third film in Peter Jackson‘s trilogy adapting J.R.R. Tolkien‘s short novel The Hobbit. I wondered if that might have been a mistake in billing, and that the still might actually have been from the second film, The Desolation of Smaug. After all, we hadn’t seen anything from the second movie yet, and so to see a still from the third seemed odd.

But that was indeed from the third movie. And now we’ve got the first pic from The Desolation of Smaug, and the guess is that it comes from the very end of the film, just as Bilbo Baggins (Martin Freeman) is coming face to face with the dragon Smaug (Benedict Cumberbatch) for the first time. See that, and a new pic from the first Hobbit film, below. Read More »

Great as it was to finally get a glimpse of Star Trek Into Darkness that lasted more than 1/8 of a second, today’s one-minute “teaser announcement” really only served to whet our appetites, not satisfy them. Luckily, additional footage won’t be too hard to come by in the near future.

Recently, we learned that a nine-minute prologue would play before IMAX 3D screenings of The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey starting December 14. Now the studio has released more details on the preview, including exactly which domestic and international cinemas will play the clip. Hit the jump for more info.

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Things are going into overdrive for Peter Jackson‘s first film adapting The Hobbit, but before the film opens on December 14 we’ve got a great behind the scenes look at the production of the film. This 13-minute featurette features a lot of film footage you probably haven’t seen yet, and has some good interviews, to boot.

Plus, we’ve got the first official still from the second Hobbit movie (or is it from the third?) after the break.

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When The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey is good, it’s really good. Throughout Peter Jackson‘s first film in the Hobbit trilogy, his camera sweeps through an epic battle, and Howard Shore’s score crescendos through the speakers as thirteen dwarves, one wizard and a hobbit fight for their lives. That’s what most audiences are paying to see, and the film provides that on a grand scale, again and again.

“Again and again” is also the film’s biggest issue. On a consistent basis, it’s almost as if Jackson forgets he has two more films to release and is forced to pump the brakes. Tangents pop out of nowhere, dialogue scenes are stretched into infinity, and a familiar structure of capture followed by rousing escape, is consistently repeated. Much of the film feels like it’s purposely attempting to stall the dwarves’ quest from progressing.

What we’re left with is a huge, beautiful piece of entertainment, the lows of which are slightly outweighed by its adrenaline pumping highs. The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey works, but feels bloated, derived from the fact that it’s based on a child’s book, only stuffed and stretched beyond the bounds of J.R.R. Tolkien‘s original narrative.  Still, its flaws and fun work hand in hand to provide a suitably rousing first act to the Hobbit trilogy. Read More »

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