By Matt Singer | Criticwire November 29, 2012 at 3:40PM
For J.R.R. Tolkien fans waiting for "The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey," the first of director Peter Jackson's three prequels to his acclaimed and beloved "Lord of the Rings" trilogy, the "Precious" they're all lusting after right now is the first word on the film's quality, which is starting to make its way online after the New Zealand premiere earlier this week. Ethan Sacks from the New York Daily News posted his "first look" about the film yesterday, and it's largely positive with a few caveats, notably a passage that compares one "bumbling wizard" to Jar-Jar Binks. Uh oh.
Before yousa get mooey mooey worried though, you should know that Sacks did have good things to say about the film's first-of-its-kind "High Frame Rate" (the "HFR" you might have seen referred to on the film's posters), that projects the movie at 48 frames per second, twice the speed of traditional film (and standard HD video). The first glimpses of "The Hobbit" in HFR were give very lukewarm reviews -- see Devin Faraci's disappointed report from last spring's CinemaCon -- but Sacks was satisfied with the finished product:
"The movie offers technological wizardry, thanks to a 48 frames-per-second format, twice the industry standard. Critics who saw a trailer earlier this year were unimpressed, but after a minute or two of adjusting, the higher resolution is eye-popping, similar to discovering HD television for the first time."
Eye-popping is encouraging; comparing anything in a movie theater to an HD television somewhat less so. Sacks added that the film is "lighter and funnier" than Jackson's previous "Lord of the Rings" movies, and that "The Hobbit" "runs rings around most special-effects driven blockbusters." We'll see what other critics have to say -- and what audiences think, too -- when "The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey" premieres on December 14th.