Saw an HFR 3D UltraAVX presentation of the film today. That's a lot of acronyms. UltraAVX is essentially the local cineplex chain's lingo for "one of the auditoriums that we've bothered to upgrade recently and you can pay a premium to be in it".
The movie was a mixed bag. The first act in the Shire could use some editing. A lot of editing. It takes a good long while to get going and the burp-jokes feel out of place. Pacing and tone is still kind of broken until after the troll scene. After that it's enjoyable and it feels more like you're back in the old films. But it always has a very evident feeling (at least if you're familiar with the book, I guess) that this is lighter fare being padded and stretched beyond its limits. I don't mind the extra material and trying to make it fit better with the first trilogy, and as two well-paced films it can work. But three? No. Also, as if bowing to pressure from Tokien fans after complaints in the last trilogy for not following every single word - this movie, unwisely, includes the songs. In short, this movie needs editing.
As for HFR, I don't think it adds much. The first ten minutes or so (basically, the prologue) looked really awkward as I adjusted to the speed. Actions were jittery and people walked around like in an old-timey movie. After I adjusted, I didn't notice it anymore. Which I guess it good, but also... then what's the point if it ultimately looks like same? Action scenes were still blurry, it didn't solve that problem. Sure still scenes were really clear, but IMAX does this already. It made 3D look terrific though, some of the best I've seen. And yet...I didn't enjoy the 3D. Whereas Hugo (which I think made the best use of 3D), embraced 3D and used it to enhance the movie into a beautiful work of art - with The Hobbit, 3D coupled with HFR feels very realistic. And I don't want realistic. I want film. This is Tolkien. This is fantasy. Hyper-realism doesn't fit. it feels like you're really there - not in Middle-Earth, but on a film set. The best description I've seen likened the effect to the greatest BBC or PBS production. A soap opera. A high-end home video camera. It lacks the filmic quality that I want when I go the movie theatre. The magic. Throughout the whole movie though, any quick shots or inserts felt too fast and would take me out of the movie.
Speaking of which...40 minutes of commercials and advertisements before the movie actually started. Holy cow. Did not have to make this movie any longer than it already was.