For his 13th directorial effort, Oscar winner Ang Lee decided to push the boundaries of technical prowess with Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk, which had its worldwide debut at the New York Film Festival on Friday.
The project rose to the top of many must-see lists for having been shot at 120 frames per second — the industry standard is 24 FPS, while Peter Jackson pushed that to 48 FPS with The Hobbit. Lee hoped to use the higher rate to bolster Billy Lynn, which tackles the issue of PTSD in a story about a 19-year-old soldier's victory tour after returning from Iraq. Despite Lee's ambition, the film's first round of reactions have been mixed, with some calling the technology a distraction.
See some of what critics had to say below.
BILLY LYNN: 120fps may be the future of documentaries, of sports, of porn, but it ain't the future of scripted entertainment. (movie is ok!)
— david ehrlich (@davidehrlich) October 15, 2016
To be fair, everyone and everything in BILLY LYNN is trying really hard, but the 120 fps makes it look weirdly like they're in a skit
— Alissa Wilkinson (@alissamarie) October 15, 2016
BILLY LYNN'S LONG HALFTIME WALK. Ban frame rates over 24 a second.
— Mike Ryan (@mikeryan) October 15, 2016
Variety's Brent Lang published a reaction piece, calling the film "a beautiful mess." Describing an instance where the technology was a detriment, he wrote, "Because the higher frame rate and 3D allows for a greater depth of vision, it’s clear that the extras at scenes in the football stadium are miming actions and having fake conversations."
"With one exception — the titular walk, a dazzling football halftime show that brings the character’s conflict to the foreground — Billy Lynn barely looks more impressive than the possibilities offered by a high-end television," IndieWire's Eric Kohn wrote. "Whatever the creative possibilities of new digital cameras, this effort never fully makes its case."
David Rooney of The Hollywood Reporter offered similar criticism, but praised the film as "an absorbing character study, even if it's ultimately not one that justifies its much-vaunted technological advances."
Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk stars newcomer Joe Alwyn as the titular character, while the cast is rounded out by Kristen Stewart, Garrett Hedlund, Chris Tucker, Vin Diesel, and Steve Martin. The film will be released on Nov. 11.