Last weekend I watched the movie- “The Hobbit Part 2- Desolation of Smaug” in a 4-D version. If you are your average 3-D movie go’er and haven’t ever seen a 4-D movie before allow me a moment to dance and caper in your face. Ok, gloating done, let me share my 4-D experience in detail, especially on how I ended up watching a new release on the second day itself. On Saturday I found myself with a little free time on hand- at the awkward time between noon and late noon when there is not much to do or see in the city. As I was on my way back home ready to do some serious TV watching, I happened to notice accidentally that the recently released film The Hobbit- 2 was running in my neighborhood theater Sangam.
Now for those who don’t know Sangam it’s an old theater (predating modern multiplexes) on Poonamalle High Road near the erstwhile Dasaprakash Restaurant (now turned into luxury apartments). It’s on my route back home and as I had a window seat on the bus I could see the hoarding with all the latest Tamil films running at the theatre and in one corner, the bottom right hand corner, there was a small, very small poster of The Hobbit.
Hold on, I thought is the hobbit running here? If so what would be the probable timing of the show? Will they have any show running now or will the fact that it is an English film (clearly not meant for the masses) would have consigned it into a late night show for the English film watching “hoi-polloi” crowds. Do I take a gamble to get off the bus at the next stop and walk back to the theatre to ask if they have a show right now or if it’s already begun or if they even have tickets or whether they were all sold out or should I keep going on the bus in my right comfortable seat till my stop came and I could watch the film next week after pre-booking a ticket? That’s the dilemma I had to resolve within the next one minute.
But hey, you know that I like to live life dangerously, so I abandoned my seat (in that crowded/standing space only bus) without a pang and jumped out at the Neyveli Lignite Corporation House bus-stop to walk back to Sangam theatre with a hope and a prayer. Being a Saturday the theater was overflowing with crowds and i hoped that I wasn’t too late for the show and end up missing a few opening scenes.
But at last I reached the ticket booking counter after and I asked for a ticket to The Hobbit and was told that only the front row tickets were available and was I sure I wanted one? What the heck after coming this far, I wasn’t going back empty handed was i? So I said yes, I would take any damned seat in theater if I could enjoy the movie on the opening weekend- for I am frankly sick of all the one-line film reviewers on social media who keep spoiling films for us- the average viewers who usually cannot catch any release in the first week.
Once inside the theatre seated in the very second row in front of the big screen with my 3-d glasses on I experienced the well you could say the experience of my lifetime (my young and youthful lifetime ok?) as the film begun on screen. It is a unique experience to watch a 3-d film when you are on the very edge of the screen. Unlike normal 3-d where the images just leap at you in front of you, the edge of screen experience means that the images often enfold you, immersing you inside them at times -like you were living inside a holographic projection.
There were scenes when I turned around to see if the hideous orcs were sitting right beside me (on my left hand seat there indeed was one) and it was an out-of the mind experience. I have never enjoyed 3-D in any theatre as much as I enjoyed the 4-D experience of the hobbit. At times I flinched when the arrows shot by the Elf Lord Legolas almost passed over me in the front seat to go hit the orcs seated behind me. When the were-wolves of the Orc chieftain Azog the Terrible jumped out of the screen i bent my head to let them overshoot me and pass behind. At one time i very nearly pulled out my magical sword and started stabbing and hacking the spiders all around me (I hate spiders btw) before I realized I was causing a mini riot in the theater and calmed down.
For those of you who still have not watched the movie and don’t mind a few pointers here are my wiki-leaks. The movie starts from where it left off in the first part (logical right?) as the hobbits are being chased by the orc-hordes under Azog and they take refuge in the house of Beorn the Shape-shifter who takes the form of a humongous gigantic bear and protects them through the night from the chasing goblin hordes. Come morning the dwarfs and Bilbo flee into the relative safety of the large forest Mirkwood but which is now overrun by gigantic spiders (who knew spiders were soo loathsome on close up view?) which capture them and tie them up.
Bilbo as befits the hero of the tale frees the dwarfs from the spiders and takes them onwards deeper into the forest where they are next captured by the wood elves under their fearful lord Thranduil who says that all he wants is to be left alone without being disturbed by each and every passing traveler knocking on his front door. Bilbo again (with the help of his magical ring this time) frees the dwarfs from the elf prison and they escape through an underground river riding on empty barrels. The movie closely follows the book till this point.
In the second half the movie departs from the book version and expands into new territory which is surprisingly good. The dwarfs reach the newly re-built town of dale – the old one burnt by the dragon in the past and there they get the help of Baud the Bowman (spoiler alert) the future dragon-killer who helps them reach the slopes of the Lonely Mountain – the once-home of the dwarfs. After getting there it’s again the ingenuity of Bilbo which helps them find the back door into the mountain only visible on a full moon’s light on Durin’s day and as a reward Bilbo gets to go inside and find out if the dragon is still alive and kicking so to say.
Turns out the dragon Smaug is indeed more than alive and after some funny interludes with Bilbo (Seriously I don’t want to spoil your pleasure if you have still not seen the movie) the dragon and the dwarfs get into a fight over the ownership of the mountain and the pissed off dragon decides to go after an easier prey -the men of the floating city Dale at the foot of the mountain rather than fight with crusty old dwarfs who pour boiling gold on it, coating it and turning it into a golden dragon for a brief while. The rest as they is – for the next part- part 3.
To say I enjoyed this movie would be an understatement- I really, really enjoyed the movie- despite my initial misgivings. For when i went inside the theater I did not know whether I would be watching the movie in the original English or a dubbed Tamil (the local language) version with all the characters speaking in local patois. Thankfully they screened the movie in English but with the addition of English subtitles (a first for me- watching an English movie with English subtitles) at the bottom of the screen which did not irritate me much as the movie sucked me into itself with nonstop action sequences. At one point i even enjoyed reading the translations of orc talk running at the bottom of the screen as subtitles- words like hmmfff, angg, faffff translated directly from Goblish into English.
The Graphics (CGI) was top class in the film and you can almost believe that there is a middle earth somewhere out there in the real world. The acting for the most part was top notch with the dragon Smaug a cinch for an Oscar award this year. All in all it was a totally enjoyable experience for all that it was unexpected. And finally- if you haven’t seen it yet- go immediately to watch. And book an extra ticket and call me- I wouldn’t mind watching again with you.
P.S.- And in future if you want to enjoy a similar 4-D experience buy a front row ticket for a 3-d movie and watch it on a big screen – you’ll love it.