Warning! This entire discussion contains spoilers for The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey.



Scott Hardie | December 13, 2012
I loved Peter Jackson's The Lord of the Rings movies. (Who didn't?) The thing is, I only loved the theatrical versions, each of which I saw twice. When I wanted to see the series again, I foolishly decided to buy the extended editions, which are nearly four hours apiece. More scenes meant more to love, right? What a mistake. The extra scenes where not only of little interest in and of themselves, but they really killed the feeling of forward momentum in the narrative. They dragged down what had been an exciting epic into a slow crawl. They were a re-education for me about making judicious cuts to strengthen the whole, something I had learned in writing workshops but had not much considered regarding movies.

With that in mind, imagine my trepidation upon learning that the much shorter and simpler The Hobbit was being turned into two movies -- later changed to three movies -- all clocking in at the same running times as the original trilogy. It sounded like a horrible way to water down a story that's better left short and sweet. I dreaded that the Hobbit movies were essentially being turned into their own extended editions, becoming unwatchable in the process.

That dread became even greater today when I read AV Club's review and others, which made the excessive padding sound even worse than I feared. (I love The Onion's take on it.) I'm not a purist who objects to non-Tolkien additions on principle, but if they're going to stuff his classic full of totally new scenes, it should be done for the betterment of the movie, not be done simply to have more scenes.

Kelly speculated that this was a cash grab by the studio. That's certainly a possible explanation for how two films became three, as if Jackson filmed only what he needed for The Hobbit and New Line demanded a third picture, so he padded it with superfluous material from The Silmarillion and his own imagination to satisfy them. But then, why must each film still be three hours long? If The Hobbit was originally going to be two 3-hour movies, why not edit them to be three 2-hour movies? If it's solely about maximizing profit, why delay production and spend a fortune to film additional material that's not necessary? That seems absurd to me, but I'm sure I don't even begin to comprehend how Hollywood works when it comes to decisions like this.

It doesn't bother me nearly as much to see a bad or mediocre movie that was always doomed to be that way, as it does to see a movie that had greatness within its grasp but made a criticial mistake. What might have been frustrates me. I find that curious.

Of course, all of this is mere theory until I actually see the movie and decide for myself. I will do my best to see The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey with an open mind. Even if I can't, my lowered expectations might help me enjoy it even more. I'm very curious to hear what anybody else here thinks about it.

Erik Bates | December 17, 2012
This may be the first movie that I'll actually watch and be able to comment on during its tenure as Movie of the Month!

I, too, was disheartened at the announcement that this one, comparatively short book was going to be stretched into three movies.

This is a sad trend in Hollywood lately, I feel. First there was Harry Potter stretching the 7th book into two movies, then Twilight doing the same with the 4th book of that series. I fully expect four Hunger Games movies for no good reason, as well.

Scott Hardie | December 17, 2012
Four Hunger Games movies is already happening. Hollywood has successfully met your low expectations.

Erik Bates | December 17, 2012
Sonofabitch. They just can't leave good enough alone, can they?

Samir Mehta | December 20, 2012
I can say with some confidence that I will just not see this movie. I LOVE Peter Jackson (I've seen every one of his movies except Forgotten Silver which I plan to see). I loved King Kong, Heavenly Creatures, The Two Towers (less so the other LoTR films), and Meet the Feebles. He's gifted and talented. I also like the Hobbit a lot (I think it was the first real (not Encyclopedia Brown/Judy Blume) novel I read as a child). But I won't see it.

There are just too many great movies out now that I have yet to see and, even if I saw them all, I'd rather just not see this. I share your opinions, Scott, on the extended LotR and I think this will just make a fun story feel ponderous and dull. Thankfully Tolkein doesn't have any more stories for Jackson to adapt!

Scott Hardie | December 20, 2012
I'm sure he left behind some doodles or some pen scratchings. Maybe a check he wrote for the water bill? That could be a nine-hour trilogy right there.

Evie Totty | December 23, 2012
Just a quick FYI: Jackson actually asked to have the 3rd movie made with info from the Appendices from LoTR - not the other way 'round.

I don't know, people complain about 3 movies from one book... then they complain about 1 movie from 2 books (Queen of the Damned, Master and Commander etc) because it cut too much.

I mean, how long does it take to read a book? A heck of a lot more than nine hours right? Sure the time conversion isn't one to one but seems to me the more movies made from a book, the more info can be put in. I was actually excited when I heard he'd do more than one film for the book (I actually own the cartoon VHS version I saw as a child).

Of course I've seen it and yes I loved it. I can say with confidence I didn't love it as much as I did the LotR films as I believe I saw FotR nine times and TT nine and seven times respectively (I didn't like RotK as much so I think I saw that four or five), I do want to see The Hobbit again but more as a 'I want to see it in IMAX3D so I can kill two birds with one stone: the IMAX3D experience and the nine min Star Trek trailer haha.

Scott Hardie | December 23, 2012
I hear you. If the extra scenes are good and their inclusion makes the movie better, then I'm all for them.

Maybe I'm also apprehensive because of the splitting of the final Harry Potter film into two parts, one of which got all the lousy boring stuff and the other of which was awesome. I was very much against the splitting of Kill Bill once upon a time, though that one fared somewhat better.

Erik Bates | December 30, 2012
Saw it tonight. Loved it. Maybe a bit slow in a couple places, but otherwise fantastic. The added bits of story line were just fine with me, as a reader of the book, and for my wife, as one who has never read the book.

Scott Hardie | January 11, 2013
Good movie! I was well entertained throughout. I'm so glad that Kelly insisted that we go, because I would have skipped it, probably catching it on Netflix in a year or two. Not seeing it on the big screen with theatrical sound would have been a mistake.

What I feared most, the tedium caused by too many needless extra scenes and extra padding, was a problem, but not a serious one. I would have trimmed about thirty minutes of extra material, from Radagast being threatened by the spider monsters in his home, to the endless foot chase out of the goblin town, to the letter-to-Frodo frame story, to the pointless battle between stone giants (WTF?). None of that stuff helped the movie. Honestly, when the heroes finished fleeing the goblin town in that massive CGI chase scene, there was a warm scene of regrouping and accepting Bilbo as a member, and it felt like the movie was finally about to roll credits... only for the orcs to show up and the movie to go on for another 20+ minutes. Crazy.

Even though I would have cut the Frodo material, it was nice to see Ian Holm and Elijah Wood again, along with the various other Lord of the Rings actors who had no business being here but were snuck in anyway.

Didn't the one dwarf's hearing aid get smashed by the goblins? I could swear I saw him using it again after they escaped. And what's with the rapid time shifting? When the orcs start chasing them down the mountain, it's daylight, but a moment later when they catch up, night has fallen. Then the birds grab the heroes and fly off, and it's suddenly morning. Does night last for an hour in this world? I guess the birds were supposed to be flying all night and into the next day, but hell, why not carry them all the way if they're willing to fly that far already?

Ever since I was traumatized by the cartoon as a child, Gollum will never not be scary to me. Mad props to Andy Serkis for once again creating the most fascinating character in the movie, even if he's only in a single (very long) scene.

Scott Hardie | December 15, 2013
I've read hints online that the stretching of the thin material into three films instead of two was insisted upon by the studios rather than Peter Jackson, in order to justify the huge expense of production. Peter Jackson takes a lot of flak for padding out the source material, so I just want to say that I no longer blame him for this series being two entries too long. That said, I still don't understand why each film has to be 2.5 to 3 hours in length, when they could reduce production costs by trimming the number of scenes by 25% and still sell just as many tickets. The finances of Hollywood continue to elude me.

Scott Hardie | January 21, 2015
For anyone interested: A fan has gone to great lengths to edit The Hobbit into a single movie by trimming anything that didn't come from the original tale and eliminating most of the padding. Here's the official website for it. The fact that it still comes in at 4 hours (4.5 with credits) suggests that perhaps a single theatrically-releasable Hobbit would have been impossible, at least not without even considerably more trimming of good material.

Evie Totty | January 21, 2015
Neat!

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