As many people know, The Hobbit is the first theatrical film being released in 48 frames per second, rather than 24. Apparently only about 10% of the theaters in America have been equipped to show it this way, and only 3D showings have this frame rate available. From my experience with my local theater, things are further confused by the availability of 3D showings both with and without high frame rate (HFR) at the same location. (This is not to mention Imax showings, which further complicate things, since they come in multiple formats, too.) In any case, the outcome of this is that many people will not see The Hobbit in the format in which it was filmed. So, this review will not spend overmuch time on the storyline, characters, etc., which can be read about elsewhere--I suggest here, as Steven D. Greydanus often matches my views. Instead, I will discuss my experience with the controversial new frame rate.
When the movie first started, I could see something was a little different, as the higher frame rate practically eliminates motion blur except from the fastest movements. Bilbo's movements around his home looked a little odd, like they were at the wrong speed. But the flashback to Erebor before the dragon displayed an extraordinarily crisp portrayal of miners and the riches they unearthed, even as the camera swept and spiraled through the depths. Rather than getting the general idea, I could see the details of the work. As the film went on, the action scenes were all crisp and clear. Now Peter Jackson's earlier Lord of the Rings movies had also had intelligible action scenes with few confusing bits, but he also made use of a good deal of slow motion in those films, which he seems to do little of here. This may be partly due to the greater ease of displaying action when using higher frame rates.
A bigger positive for me, though, was that I did not get a headache when the film was over. When watching longer 3D films, I have often gotten a headache afterwards, despite the fact that the new 3D technology is supposed to avoid that. I was unsure of the reason, but I suspect 3D motion blur was part of the problem, because The Hobbit was longer than Avatar, but I had no ill effects.
Since I have read some articles saying that the higher frame rate makes the actors and sets look stagy and unrealistic, I will note a couple of things on that subject as well. Azog, the pale Orc, looked kind of like Kratos from the God of War video games, and something seemed off about his looks. I do not know whether that is the fault of the frame rate or not, since the effect seemed the same whether or not he was moving. I had no complaints about the other prosthetic or CGI characters, though. As for the Maiar, Hobbit, Elf, and Dwarf characters, they did not merely look like people wearing costumes, but did indeed seem like characters, as you would expect from a high-quality movie.
So, my conclusions on HFR are largely positive, though I wonder whether it would be better to vary the frame rate depending on the speed of action--that might get past the odd movement speed apparent in some of the non-action scenes. I will also note that if anyone happens by here wondering about the "dream effect" that some theorize is responsible for much of the magic of movies, and that only exists at 24 frames per second, I have no answers, being unqualified on that subject.
So. Regarding the content of the movie, I share many of the views of the review I linked to above, though I would say I am a bit more positive overall--I liked the Goblin-Town sequence, for example, even if the stone giants that preceded it were stupid. Many of the good parts of the movie are taken directly from the book, and many of the less-good are alterations, but I will mention in the scriptwriters' favor that Gandalf's words about the difference between his and Saruman's views on power are original to them and exactly right. And there I shall leave things, for that and Bilbo's later speech about home are two of the best moments of the film.