Alex and myself saw The Hobbit in 3D this afternoon and were pleasantly surprised. Some points:
1. The 48 frames per second film rate, which some had criticised for 'hyper-realism' and for giving an arcade-game feel is actually just fine. The get-up-close realism actually helps the storyline.
2. The 3D is justified and, like Avatar, works best with the stupendously realised backgrounds: mountains, awesome cave-cities, the beauty of Rivendell. A triumphant and seamless blend of CGI and NZ.
3. The cultural references are amusing and knowing, if a little politically-incorrect. The dwarves are played as working-class Glaswegians, all chips, brown sauce and a propensity to vulgarity; the elves are upper-class English - harps and flutes accompany a salad meal (much to the disgust of the dwarves). The hobbits, as Tolkien intended, are the yeomanry of England: decent, conscientious and loyal .. the small ingredients of the Good.
For pacifists who have problems with the use of weapons and the brutal dispatch of bad people by visceral violence, I have to say this is not really the film for you. In fact, now would be a good time to set up the Orc, Goblin, Warg and Troll Liberation Front. Many were harmed in the making of this film.
So, a film with strong leading characters which keeps the viewer engrossed over two and three quarter hours, and that's a rarity. Roll on part 2.