Yesterday some people convinced to attend the screening of the new Hobbit 2 – The Desolation of the Smaugomat in a cinema place. I don’t like cinemas. People show up there, and then they crunch through buckets of popcorn and smash tons of nachos with their ugly faces, all while snorting and babbling. And today a ticket to a movie costs half my rent plus a quarter of my savings for when I’m old.
Nonetheless I ended up in the Cinestar at Potsdamer Platz after we watched part 1 at home in our home theatre in Full HD but without any added dimensions. After seeing Zeh Hobbitses for the second time I found it a bit less entertaining than on the first time watching but I still got interested in the second part.
Surprisingly there was no huge crowd at the gates of the cinema. We had our tickets bought online and printed out, for a reasonable prize of only 16 EUR per person, including 10 % pre-ordering fee. By helping the cinema filling its ranks without the need to deal with big crowds at the entrance we pay additional ten percent on the admission. Great deal. We exchanged the paper ticket for some real tickets and had to buy 3D goggles, as none were included in the fee. Clearly the glasses are way to expensive to include them in a 16 eur ticket price.
Then the usual yadda yadda: Popcorn for minimum 5 EUR per pack, a menu with an additional drink for only a tenner. Then half an hour of ads, because we paid for them, some previews, then the signal: PUT ON YOUR GOGGLES FILTHY MORTALS! and the show began.
I don’t want to go in detail on the plot and stuff, I don’t want to spoil it and there are better sites to read summaries. What I want to focus on is the amazing maleficent high frame rate 3D (HFR-3D). First of: I am born without the ability to perceive true 3D for a big difference in eye sight between left and right. There is a scientific term for it but I tend to call it Twodeeishnessus totalus. It’s great fun to play ball games or anything that involves good hand eye coordination with fast objects. I’m really good at not hitting anything.
So when the third dimension was added by sheer willpower to the screening it looked strange and fascinating to me. I’ve seen 3D before, but it was usually more blurry and often only featured two to three different panes or levels, that were stacked behind each other. Not really convincing and often causing a headache rather quickly.
I don’t know what sort of black magic Peter Jackson used, but the quality of the HFR 3D was stunning, the opening shot featured a full tavern and it was like being there with plastic people and great detail. I think the resolution was something like this new 4K resolution and the sharpness and detail were incredible.
But this also gave rise to some issues. The hyperrealistic look broke the fourth wall several times for me. I felt more like witnessing the filming of the story than the story itself. The perceivable detail on costumes and set made it obvious to me that this was an actor in a really well done costume. The illusion of witnessing a fantastic story was more difficult to maintain than when I watched the first part in simple full HD a few hours earlier.
The digital effects were as amazing as the 3D, animated orcs don’t look any longer like animated orcs, they look so real. Landscapes, towns, people, most stuff looked like genuine real locations and not like something that sprang out of the computer of a talented digital effects artist. Only one liquid gold effect looked rubbish to me, I have seen better fluids animation on youtube. But this is tiny flaw in the whole thing that peter jackson paid lots of money for (and earned even more with in the long run).
So in conclusion I doubt that the 3D adds anything to the experience, on the contrary I think it draws the attention away from the plot and the immersion into the story. It is beautiful to see and impressive to witness the possibilities of modern cinema, but it is not at all an addition to cinema like the invention of colour film or 16:9 aspect ratios. It is a gimmick, an impressive one, but the it does not help the movie be a better movie. It is rather a tool to draw the masses into the theatres and to hinder the sneaky copiers with their cameras, as a 3D movie is bit harder to tape from screen.
I will rather stick with my BluRay home cinema system, that is a lot cheaper in the end then going to the cinema and paying about 20 EUR per night and person to see next big blockbuster that is released three months later for home use.