I guess I'm not surprised this is the reaction. It's convinced me not to see the late night screening tonight that I have a free ticket for (HFR 3D/48fps version). Time is precious and I would rather not see one of my fond childhood memories shown in a format I'm convinced would take me out of the story. My friend/coworker just came back from it and he gave the 48fps version 20mins before jumping ship to an adjacent theater showing 24fps. I certainly would like to see how it turned out. It's certainly another tool in the cinematic tool box but I was so surprised that anyone would pick a fantasy piece as the project to use this on.
I will say that one show where the "soap opera effect" really kicks bottom is Homeland on Showtime. I think that sense of "this is real and you are witnessing it like you are there" is incredibly effective on that show. May be that that is apples and oranges but I think there's a fair comparison in that we're talking about the effect of being perceived as "hyper-real".
One thing I will also note is that not all viewers are created equal. I believe it's been said that not everyone has the same reaction to that motion capture animation style that Robert Zemeckis has been using on films like Christmas Carol and Polar Express. I look at that and I think I'm looking at meat puppets. I have a very negative reaction to that and I think to myself, how does Robert Z. not feel the same? A research person in my R&D department said there are studies that each individual has different reactions to to visuals that are trying to approximate human behavior and likeness. I think there is a parallel to the studies he was referring to called the Uncanny Valley with what we are seeing here. With this film it would seem the reverse situation is playing out where we want something to look non-human (in this case, Hobbit-like, etc) and the technology would seem to be working against that. I will call it the Unfortunate Valley. A valley I would rather see in 2D and 24fps for my first viewing.