When I first heard that Peter Jackson was at the helm of the movie version of The Hobbit, I was fairly excited. Then I heard that they were going it in two movies, then it was three movies.
Regardless, I was excited to see the movies, because I enjoyed the book as a child, and I enjoyed Peter Jackson’s rendition of Tolkein’s Lord of the Rings. Mika and I made the effort to see the movie. This is kind of a big deal, as we typically make it to only one or two movies together in a given year.
I am surprised to see myself saying this, but here it is: skip this movie. While I enjoyed the parts of the movie that were actually part of the book, the movie felt ill-paced, boring, and forced.
The pacing of the storytelling was horrendous. It felt as though it took a good 30 minutes to just get to the movie! There is a reason that movies leave out certain parts of books. Not all aspects of a book, even the most well-written books, are fit to be put on the silver screen. Now imagine that instead of trimming parts of a book down to the parts best suited for visual adaptation, you keep in all of the parts regardless of how well they work. Not only that, but you’ve added in extra parts to make it feel longer. Imagine a Lord of the Rings film where they not only included Tom Bombadil, but also the biography of Tom Bombadil’s wife as recorded from Tolkein’s private notes. With all of the unnecessary parts added in (or embellished from the book), the movie did not flow well. While the parts of the movie that were actually in the book were interesting, were well thought-out and were able to maintain my interest, there was at least an hour of material that were not. The 30 minute introduction, and the additional 15-20 minutes spent on Radagast, and another 15-20 minutes spent on the white orc completely ruined the natural flow of the story. The experience felt like the makers were trying to justify making three movies, rather than tell the story of The Hobbit.
This led to the next problem, the movie was boring. One might assume, and justly so, that in a movie lasting 2 hours and 40 minutes, you would walk away feeling entertained. You might hope that you would walk away feeling like you knew the characters. However, it was to the contrary. The portrayals of the characters were muddied by the additional parts added in Jackson and his crew. By two hours in, when the movie had finally reached full steam, I was already worn out by tales of dragons, how dwarves mine, and a wizard covered in bird-feces.
Finally, the movie felt forced. The Hobbit, by its nature as a children’s book, was a much lighter tale than The Lord of the Rings. It is much more a fairy tale, and much less an epic fantasy novel. It is filled with silly songs, riddles, and lighthearted banter. While the movie still had these things (how can they justify cutting anything when stretching a story this much?), it also felt as though it were trying to be as serious and somber as The Lord of The Rings.
In short, when I walked out of the theater, I thought, “I don’t want the director’s cut; I want the audience cut.” I want a version of The Hobbit with only the best parts of the book. I want a version without the extra bits added in. I want The Hobbit that I can sit down and watch two hours and forty minutes and get the whole book!