Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk may be two-time Oscar-winng director Ang Lee‘s big revolutionary game changer…in style and form, at least, if not actual narrative.
Based on the popular novel of the same name about a U.S. soldier returning from the horrors of war, Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk is the first movie to be shot at a 120 frame rate (or 120 frames per second, or “fps”), and in 4K 3D. By comparison, films throughout history have been shot at 24 fps. The higher the frame rate, the more crisp, clear, and theoretically real the image will appear.
Recently, director Peter Jackson experimented with 48 fps with his Hobbit trilogy. The result was largely criticized for looking like video (or “soap operay”, as many referred to it). Rather than an increase in quality, most perceived it as a decrease. Sets, too, looked more unrealistic (rocks appeared like the styrofoam they were) under the scrutiny of such a high, crisp rate. (You would not be able to see that effect now on home video, as they were released on blu-ray/dvd at the traditional 24 fps). Gizmodo writes about it here in their article “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Masterclass in Why 48 FPS Fails”.
Given that reaction, the anticipation for Lee’s leap to 120 fps has been met with as much intrigue as weariness. Even so, when it releases in November, few will be able to actually see the full effect as only a handful of theaters will have the projector technology to present it as shot. Most others will simply see it distributed at the normal 24 fps…which means the story will have to stand on its own.
The film stars newcomer Joe Alwyn in the title role, with an ensemble that includes Kristen Stewart, Chris Tucker, Garrett Hedlund, Vin Diesel, and Steve Martin.
Here’s the latest trailer to suggest if it will or not. Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk opens on November 11, 2016 in limited release, and then November 18th it goes wide.