Movie review: The Hobbit. An unexpected Journey

posted at 10:01 am on December 22, 2012 by Jazz Shaw

Before we begin, let’s get the required disclaimer out of the way. This is a review of the movie “The Hobbit. An Unexpected Journey.” And if you haven’t seen it yet and somehow managed to not know the details of a movie based on a book originally published in 1937 which has sold as many as 100 million copies, you should be forewarned that spoilers may be involved.

I’ll start off by saying that I have been a life-long fan of The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings, and have read both more times since the 1970′s than I can remember. I also fell in love with the Lord of the Rings movie trilogy, bought the full extended set on DVD and have watched them numerous times. I’m not sure if that makes me better suited to review this movie or worse.

With all that stated, I braved the crowds at the theater this week and settled back to take in the spectacle. I came away with what can only be described as mixed emotions. As with the previous outings from Wingnut Productions in this genre, it was a spectacular epic of technical achievement. There were sweeping landscapes, wonderful scenery, great music and special effects to take your breath away. It also included many – perhaps too many – characters familiar to fans of the previous trilogy, along with the essential crux of the original story from The Hobbit. Further, many back story tidbits from Middle Earth concerning the early days of the Dwarves of Lonely Mountain were highlighted in dramatic fashion. Costumes, dialogue… there was a lot of good stuff here.

And yet, I came away with a number of nagging problems concerning this release. I feel rather bad saying this, having been such a stalwart defender of the LoTR trilogy, but this was disappointing on a number of levels. First of all, while many hard-core fans of LoTR complained that there were too many details left out of the film, The Hobbit adds in a great deal which simply weren’t in the the original book. (And it’s a book which is hardly longer than a short story, now being stretched into three epic length films.) I have no doubt that each and every one of them has some germ of basis in various footnotes or tales from the Silmarillion, but there were just too many side stories and amplifications which didn’t fit with the original book. (I’ll spare you the details in case you haven’t seen it yet.)

As to the facets of the book which were in there, a number of them were substantially re-written. The finding of the ring and how it was lost by Gollum is completely changed. The Riddle Game is abbreviated and made somewhat cheap. The prominence of the Goblins hunting the Dwarves before they’ve even left the Shire warps the original story. The encounter of the band of travellers with the mountain trolls and Gandalf’s role in it shifts a great deal from the story. The portrayal of the inherently flawed, yet noble nature of the Dwarves is spun to make them look like greedy, vacuous prima donnas. The list goes on.

But even beyond all that, there were problems with the tone of the film. One colleague of mine described it as “cartoonish” in spots which were totally inappropriate, and I had to agree that this was the best word for it. Several scenes from the battle with the Goblin King under the mountain – such as the collapse of the bridge – seemed more in line with a Roadrunner and Coyote clip than the dark, suspenseful journey from the book. The response of the Goblin King to Gandalf during their final encounter – which I shall not spoil here for those who haven’t seen it – was more fitting to Animaniacs than Tolkien. It was just… off.

There’s a longer laundry list I could continue with, including the physical depiction of the dwarves and their accents, but I’ll leave it at that. On the positive side, some children of friends who saw it with us loved it. But they also had never read the books and enjoyed more fluffy entertainment. If you’re not wedded to the original books and don’t have any preconceptions about the story, this could still be a very enjoyable, big budget outing for any family. As for me… I was disappointed in it. Particularly in Radagast and the bunny sled of doom. But that’s giving too much away.


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Wait, are you telling me there’s no Smaug in this movie?

ButterflyDragon on December 22, 2012 at 10:05 AM

Wait, are you telling me there’s no Smaug in this movie?

ButterflyDragon on December 22, 2012 at 10:05 AM

Technically he’s in it. You see a tail and an eye, but that’s about it. The movie ends right around the 7th chapter of the book. It was good, but way too long and padded unnecessarily. This at most should’ve been two movies as originally planned. Oh well, at least I got to see the first 9 minutes of the next Star Trek flick before the IMAX screening.

Doughboy on December 22, 2012 at 10:10 AM

From the movie website:

“The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey” will be released on December 14, 2012, with the second film, “The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug,” releasing December 13, 2013, andthe third film, “The Hobbit: There and Back Again” slated for July 18, 2014.

Evil_Homer on December 22, 2012 at 10:14 AM

Pretty much agree. My two big issues with the film are related: the length and the tone.

To me, the cool thing about the Hobbit was that it was this little adventure that set the stage for the battle for the existence of Middle Earth. I liked the fact that, in the book, the Dwarves were basically just after the loot… it was simple adventure story which in inadvertently set the stage for the epic battle to comes years later against dark forces looming in the east.

So I really disliked the whole “I’ll help you because I love the Shire and I want you guys to have a home too” thing. I think Jackson tried to add to much “meaning” and gravitas when a lot of that would be inferred by people who saw the originally trilogy.

This should have been one movie (perhaps a long one) with the gollum/Bilbo/ring portion as its heart. That scene is the best part of this film.

Tom_Shipley on December 22, 2012 at 10:16 AM

Sooo…a creepy beaded scruffy “mage” and his homeless friends accost a child-like innocent naif.

That’s the premise for this movie? No one had a problem with that?

I bet he had a real cool van down by the river, too…

MunDane68 on December 22, 2012 at 10:17 AM

Trying not to be spoiler-ish so I’ll be vague but why didn’t their mode of transportation at the end of the movie take them to the mountain instead of dropping them off many miles away from their destination with with it being in sight at the end of a distant horizon?

Oh wait, I know, this way they can make it into more movies than needed.

Yakko77 on December 22, 2012 at 10:18 AM

I can’t understand why my wife fell asleep watching the trilogy? I loved it, but drooling for Star Trek!

Drill and Fill on December 22, 2012 at 10:22 AM

The biggest screw-up is Radagast in Dol Guldur (finding “evidence” that leads to the White Council meeting). It doesn’t make sense from a chronological perspective, since Gandalf also had to be at Dol Guldur before the story even started in order to find Thrain.

Otherwise, I was fine with the story and the changes. I felt that the tone of the Hobbit was fairly appropriate for the story — although there was misplaced humor at times. (Felt that the Great Goblin bit was a weaker “foreshadowing” of Gandalf’s encounter with the Balrog in LOTR).

Revenant on December 22, 2012 at 10:24 AM

I can’t understand why my wife fell asleep watching the trilogy? I loved it, but drooling for Star Trek!

Drill and Fill on December 22, 2012 at 10:22 AM

I was and still am hyped for Star Trek but then I saw the trailer for Pacific Rim!!!

Nerdgasm!!!!!

Yakko77 on December 22, 2012 at 10:24 AM

Jazz, was this part of the story?

Go find a ditch to die in.
lostmotherland on December 21, 2012 at 6:49 PM

Oh, and Jazz, remind me again. Why do you all force us to put up with this crap?

Bmore on December 22, 2012 at 10:39 AM

Yeah, I had mixed emotions myself. I’ve only read the book once, ages ago, so my ideals about the movie are based largely on the Rankin/Bass animated movie which I saw several times.

My wife saw the movie begrudgingly with me. She is not a fan of fantasy and action movies. We got to see the movie on a weeknight and so didn’t have to deal with a packed house.

Her biggest complaint was the speed of the introduction. It nearly made her sick and she had to look away most of the time. I’ve had similar complaints about many modern movies. Her other big complaint was a lack of character development, but she’s saying that as someone who has never read the books nor really knows much about any of the characters outside of the LoTR trilogy movies – which I made her watch.

WingNut had rights to the appendix, but not the Silmarillon or one other work. It would seem that the production company fell into the same trap that Lucas did with Star Wars. Three movies? Profit. Campiness? Appeal to little kids.

Logus on December 22, 2012 at 10:41 AM

Trying not to be spoiler-ish so I’ll be vague but why didn’t their mode of transportation at the end of the movie take them to the mountain instead of dropping them off many miles away from their destination with with it being in sight at the end of a distant horizon?

Oh wait, I know, this way they can make it into more movies than needed.

Yakko77 on December 22, 2012 at 10:18 AM

The same thing happened in the book, I don’t think it was explained there either.

Jon0815 on December 22, 2012 at 10:43 AM

We have not read the books.

Our oldest son loved it and Mammy and I liked it just as much.

That whining about how long it takes is just nitpicking in our ADD 90 minute movie culture.
The story sets the stage for 9 hours of movies. It’s called “plot/character development”.

We will probably see it one more time.

6 thumbs up from Possum Holler.

PappyD61 on December 22, 2012 at 10:47 AM

We especially liked the Christ like figure Thorin whateverhisnameis.

The film speed also was no biggie to us.

We saw it on IMAX 3d and it was awesome.

PappyD61 on December 22, 2012 at 10:49 AM

First of all, while many hard-core fans of LoTR complained that there were too many details left out of the film, The Hobbit adds in a great deal which simply weren’t in the the original book.

I didn’t have so much a problem with that as the things they chose to add – the subplot with Azzog and the orcs that takes up literally half the film, for example – were just bad.

The bottom line is that the original decision to do the Hobbit in 2 films was a better one and would have made for two much better movies. It would have worked perfectly – despite its short length, there was quite a lot packed into The Hobbit, and they could have easily filled out the rest with light LOTR prequel stuff.

The 3-film treatment, while pretty to look at, has been very disappointing. It comes off like one of those twelve-a-summer superhero movies, albeit made enjoyable by great portrayals of Bilbo, and of course Gandalf and Gollum.

HitNRun on December 22, 2012 at 10:49 AM

I had a bit more positive response to the film than you did, Jazz. And I say that as someone who’s been almost as big a fan of the books as you are!

The riddle game and finding the ring were changed somewhat, but still contained enough of the essence of the original to work, for me. I would say *all* of Gollum’s scenes were the high points of this movie, whereas other parts of it dragged.

There is a justification in LoTR itself for showing an alternate version of the finding of the Ring:

Quote:
“What do you know already [about the ring]?”
“Only what Bilbo told me. I have heard his story: how he found it, and how he used it: on his journey, I mean.”
“Which story, I wonder”, said Gandalf.
“Oh, not what he told the dwarves and put in his book,” said Frodo. “He told me the true story …”

(His book, of course, being “The Hobbit”)

For me, the dullest parts were the frenetic, hyperactive action scenes where the dwarves and Gandalf battle their way out of the mountain. It was just too much – it got to be like watching someone else play a video game, and you wanted to say “sheesh, when are they going to level up?” The battle scenes in the LoTR movies were masterful, full of emotion and depth – these, as you say, were more like cartoons that just went on, and on, and on. On the other hand, I thought the mountain troll scene was done quite nicely.

So, a bit of a mixed bag. Not quite as good as the first 3, but still better than most of what is showing these days. And considering what happened the *last* time some famous director tried to make a new trilogy piggybacking off a much loved previous trilogy, Jackson dodged that bullet completely. He may not have hit it out of the park, but it’s a solid base hit.

Tom Servo on December 22, 2012 at 10:53 AM

I’m sad there is no Smaug. The first time I read the book was when I was around 9 years old. The artwork of Smaug on the book I had (sleeping on his gold) was one of the most vivid memories I have while growing up.

I devoured that book and it transported me to a world that allowed me to completely escape from reality. There have been few authors that have done that to me since. (Piers Anthony’s Xanth series, Robert Heinlein’s Lazarus Long books and Stephen King’s books)

But I’m looking forward to seeing this movie. But I’m really, really looking forward to the one with Smaug in it. That was the book for me. I loved that dragon. LOL

ButterflyDragon on December 22, 2012 at 10:55 AM

I’m not the biggest fan of The Lord of the Rings series, but isn’t The Hobbit aimed more at children anyway? I remember reading The Hobbit in school as a child and then reading The Lord of the Rings in high school. It always seemed to me that Tolkien wrote The Hobbit for children and then years later wrote The Lord of the Rings for fans who had grown up.

If that’s the case, I will say this, The Hobbit does a much better job at making entries of a series more aimed at children than say, the Star Wars prequels. This material is certainly lighter and more kid friendly, but it doesn’t strike me as dumbed down (as the Star Wars prequels were.)

It’s also kind of cool that Jackson started with LOTR, so in making The Hobbit, he is able to foreshadow and allude to things in a way that Tolkien hadn’t thought of because he wrote The Hobbit first.

This film was also an appropriate length. This was as long as The Dark Knight Rises, which while still long isn’t quite the huge 3 hour LOTR movie.

I enjoyed it.

joshleguern on December 22, 2012 at 10:56 AM

The response of the Goblin King to Gandalf during their final encounter – which I shall not spoil here for those who haven’t seen it – was more fitting to Animaniacs than Tolkien. It was just… off.

Will have to see this part for myself, of course, but given Tolkein’s entertainingly silly description of the origin of golf in the book, well….

apostic on December 22, 2012 at 10:59 AM

For me, the dullest parts were the frenetic, hyperactive action scenes where the dwarves and Gandalf battle their way out of the mountain. It was just too much – it got to be like watching someone else play a video game, and you wanted to say “sheesh, when are they going to level up?”

That was something else that bothered me. It was like a Pirates of the Caribbean sequel, where they’ve just given up and are phoning it in to collect the enormous checks they know are coming.

This goes double if you’ve read the book and know exactly how many dwarves die in that ridiculous extended battle.

HitNRun on December 22, 2012 at 11:03 AM

Trying not to be spoiler-ish so I’ll be vague but why didn’t their mode of transportation at the end of the movie take them to the mountain instead of dropping them off many miles away from their destination with with it being in sight at the end of a distant horizon?

Oh wait, I know, this way they can make it into more movies than needed.

Yakko77 on December 22, 2012 at 10:18 AM

The same thing happened in the book, I don’t think it was explained there either.

Jon0815 on December 22, 2012 at 10:43 AM

Also trying not to be spoiler-ish,but I believe it was explained in the book as their “hosts” not being willing to take them any further. Now the part about them being able to see the mountain from there was completely wrong and obviously just added for dramatic effect and to lead in to the next movie.

toby11 on December 22, 2012 at 11:04 AM

Sounds like I shouldn’t see the movie. I hate it when Jackson and his writers somehow think they are better writers than JRR Tolkien. It’s like he had a good idea, but we need to spiff it up and make it better, or modern. He is an idiot that wouldn’t know great writing if it smacked him in the face.

In LOTR the movie they create a love triangle that never existed, somehow the idea that that Aragorn would always be true to his love Arwen, didn’t sit well with Jackson. He couldn’t see the nobility, the staying true quality. Garbage.

Then when the Nazgul are attacking the gates Gondor, in the movie they break the gates and enter the city. Again Jackson can’t see the power in the book, that these walls have never been breached and it is Gandalf himself that comes to the gates, and stops the Witch King of Angmar from entering.

He ruins the books. I am sure I would nick pick and hate the Hobbit.

odannyboy on December 22, 2012 at 11:05 AM

’m sad there is no Smaug. The first time I read the book was when I was around 9 years old. The artwork of Smaug on the book I had (sleeping on his gold) was one of the most vivid memories I have while growing up.

I devoured that book and it transported me to a world that allowed me to completely escape from reality. There have been few authors that have done that to me since. (Piers Anthony’s Xanth series, Robert Heinlein’s Lazarus Long books and Stephen King’s books)

But I’m looking forward to seeing this movie. But I’m really, really looking forward to the one with Smaug in it. That was the book for me. I loved that dragon. LOL

ButterflyDragon on December 22, 2012 at 10:55 AM

Agree totally, The Hobbit was the first actual book I read and I especially loved the cartoon on TV, I still remember the jacket, it was blue and green with a white dragon like image on it. BY the way Magic of Zanth was pretty awesome as well.

rob verdi on December 22, 2012 at 11:10 AM

Anyway, after the travesty of “King Kong” is anyone surprised Jackson added a billion hours to the story.

rob verdi on December 22, 2012 at 11:12 AM

We liked the Goblin Kings response to Gandalf. It was a bit of humor to lighten up the frenetic escape.

….and maybe one reason that it seemed fast is because we are so used to seeing SLO-MO for most fight scenes/action sequences. I actually don’t like the SLO-MO it is sooooooo overused.

The worst movie ever for this was Mission Impossible 2. It was awful.

PappyD61 on December 22, 2012 at 11:12 AM

As to the facets of the book which were in there, a number of them were substantially re-written.

I read Lord of the Rings when I was in grade school – thirty years ago – and it still sounded like nails on a blackboard every time the script varied from the text. It’s not that I remember every word; it’s just that the quality of writing was so much higher.

It sounds like they decided to take far greater liberties this time around. Too bad. And, frankly, rude. J. R. R. Tolkien never tried to tell Peter Jackson how to choreograph computer animated scenes; so why does Peter Jackson think he knows more about storytelling than the guy who actually wrote the book?

logis on December 22, 2012 at 11:15 AM

It is a shame that Jackson didn’t make The Hobbit first as a run up to making the trilogy. Now he is taking a little sports car and pimping it into an overstretched limo for milking purposes.

BL@KBIRD on December 22, 2012 at 11:22 AM

I also have mixed feelings about the Hobbit for all the reasons others have listed.
There is also some crude toliet humor that reminded me instantly of George Lucas having Jar Jar Binks stepping in the Bantha crap in The Phantom Menance. Immature and neeless.

But still, it was nice to return to Middle Earth

sanjuro on December 22, 2012 at 11:23 AM

I, like the review, walked away conflicted (as usual!) from the movie. On the one hand, Peter Jackson seemed to improve on the ability for younger viewers to enjoy and follow the movie. My twin 10 yr olds really enjoyed it and it was nice to hear them laugh at the antics of Bilbo and the Dwarves. They’ve watched the Lord of the Rings Trilogy with me countless times, so they could follow the “prequel” pretty well.
I was disappointed by some of the cartoonish animation sequences and some were entirely unnecessary (I did not see it in 3-D, so maybe they were included for that)…the stone giants scene could have been omitted entirely and shaved off 20 minutes from the film. At least in the original trilogy, some of the outrageous moments (Legolas defying all the laws of physics mounting a horse magically backwards while it is galloping) seemed to have some magical means. Didn’t see it here.
I walked away from the movie entertained, though. My children did too and they were annoyed the movie ended cause they wanted to see more. When your children sit through a 3 hour movie and are so interested in what happens next they are bummed the movie ended, you have to say that in terms of Hollywood, it was a success! Personally, I just love the scenes of New Zealand and look forward to the extended DVD version…

DrRich on December 22, 2012 at 11:23 AM

I was amazed that hundreds of goblins and orcs could be killed or injured without a single gun

J_Crater on December 22, 2012 at 11:24 AM

?

I read the book and I really liked this movie.

There are very few movies I will go to in a theater; I mostly wait for the DVD. I don’t make a lot of exceptions but this was one.

I’m going back to see it again next week.

Shay on December 22, 2012 at 11:25 AM

Pretty much agree. Jackson is trying to turn The Hobbit into an epic on the scale of LotR. Which it quite simply isn’t. The book is a fun story, with subtle undertones hinting at the battles to come. But it wasn’t meant to be expanded to this new scale.

It was still a fun watch. And I’ll certainly go to the next two episodes. But Jackson would have been better off to have adhered more closely to the tale’s original scope.

nukemhill on December 22, 2012 at 11:35 AM

If you care about Tolkien, stay away. This is a bloated mutation of his work. It’s also boring.

rrpjr on December 22, 2012 at 11:36 AM

The scene with Radagast and the bunny sled of doom reminded me of a scene from Breakfast Club. Trying to get back to the library, but everywhere they turn there’s Vernon. Just needed some Wang Chung music.

Sebastian on December 22, 2012 at 11:40 AM

I cannot believe there are so many that are critical of this movie. I thought it was excellent even if a little slow paced. The actors did a good job portraying their roles and the scenery was amazing as always. The high speed film didn’t bother me in the slightest and the 3D was the most impressive I’ve seen yet.

As for the story itself, I didn’t have a problem with the change made to the “riddle of the ring” story line. I thought it was an excellent way to show 2 actors (one CGI) doing the type of battle of wits that’s all too rare in modern movies. I also loved the scene right before the end of the film where Bilbo finally becomes one of the party and earns the respect and love of the Dwarf King Thorin Oakenshield.

I think too many here just love the book so much and had a vision of what they felt the movie should be in their minds that nothing other than an exact replica of what you imagined would suffice. If you just accept the movie as an adaptation, it’s a masterful job. Enjoy.

njrob on December 22, 2012 at 11:45 AM

To clarify, I saw the film in high speed IMAX 3D.

njrob on December 22, 2012 at 11:46 AM

My oldest son and I went to see it last Sunday. After hearing the complaints about the faster rate 3D, we saw it in regular old 2D and didn’t feel we’d missed a thing.

We both had read The Hobbit some time way back in the last century, so we were both a little rusty on the finer details. But we both enjoyed what we saw. I really liked the back story of how the dwarves were turfed out of Erebor by Smaug. You can see how pride and hubris pissed the elves off so much that they refused to assist the dwarves in the end. It also gives Thorin a reason other than birth to be the instigator and leader of the quest.

The whole time the goblin king was on screen, all I could think of was Mister Oogie-boogie in The Nightmare Before Christmas crossed with some fat old orangutan male.

The oldest and I got a little antsy at the end, nudging each other to say that it was wa-a-a-ay past time for the eagles to show up. Jackson really wrung the absolute last bit of action and suspense out of that scene.

When we were driving home, the oldest said he just couldn’t wait for the expanded version of that episode. We both laughed hysterically.

My only real kvetch is with the soundtrack. I bought that several days before I went to the movie. During the movie I realized that yes, indeed, I would pony up whatever Jackson and Shore saw fit to charge for the expanded, wall-to-wall soundtrack.

catsandbooks on December 22, 2012 at 11:52 AM

And it’s a book which is hardly longer than a short story…

Weeeeeeellllll, it is a bit over 300 pages.

I saw the movie on Monday, and actually had fewer complaints with the treatment, except in terms of adding so much Gandalf in the travels. Remember, as he says in LOTR “I was barely involved”. In fact, in the book of The Hobbit, Gandalf was off dealing with The Necromancer.

I did like some of the background included, such as how the dwarves lost the mountain. I’m interested to see how in the heck it is stretched to 3 movies, seeing as how the first ended about halfway through the book.

William Teach on December 22, 2012 at 11:53 AM

Phantom Menace revisited, IMHO. All the same pitfalls. Too much eye candy, expository backstory where it isn’t needed, butter spread over too much bread. The Hobbit in its written form, far simpler and less epic in scope than LOTR, would have made one fine film. The scope of this Unexpected Journey diminishes the stakes of the LOTR trilogy.

hungrymongo on December 22, 2012 at 12:03 PM

I’m interested to see how in the heck it is stretched to 3 movies, seeing as how the first ended about halfway through the book.

William Teach on December 22, 2012 at 11:53 AM

I imagine the big battle scene after Smaug is killed will be stretched out forever. A friend suggested that the second installment will be all about crossing Mirk Wood. (Maybe we’ll meet Tom Bombadil there since there wasn’t room for him in the LotR trilogy. It would sure give Jackson more to play with.)

catsandbooks on December 22, 2012 at 12:15 PM

And of course Beorn the shape-shifter is a good character still to show up, too. He should be a major figure in the 3rd part.

Tom Servo on December 22, 2012 at 12:28 PM

I for one will not be part of the Hollywood revenue stream.

Mr. Arrogant on December 22, 2012 at 12:36 PM

I can agree with all the criticisms (too stretched out, wrong tone in some characters, etc) and still say I loved it.

One thing that gets me, though, is how the company bravely fights against thousands of Orcs under the mountain, but once they are out, they run in terror from a group of six on wargs.

Johnny 100 Pesos on December 22, 2012 at 12:36 PM

All I needed to hear was 3 hours long. For those of us that just want to see a movie, not homestead, there are other attractions. I think I’ll just go see Argo.

claudius on December 22, 2012 at 12:46 PM

I read the book, once to my son. My biggest fear in hearing that they were expanding it to 2 and then 3 movies was that they would LOTR it up too much. (I thought the two-part series should be called “There” and “Back Again”–mainly because it fits but they make horrible names for movies.)

But I was pleased that they kept the light and playful tone of the book. I know the movie was uneven. I don’t care. I know that it can’t match the magnificence of LOTR which runs about the same length, but I don’t care. It was an entertaining movie. And I put it as my third favorite movie, after Avengers and Seven Psychopaths.

Uneven because even Tolkein knew that his mountain troll story didn’t go with LOTR. So not to lose one of the funniest bits in the book, it had to be uneven.

Axeman on December 22, 2012 at 12:52 PM

We all loved it. I had read the book a long time ago and only remembered the superficial story so I didn’t really compare it with the book. I was a bit skeptical after reading a couple of reviews and worried about the 3 hours length, but found myself saying “It’s over already?” at the end. The score is fabulous and, if you see it in HFR 3D, the movie is beautifully realistic.

I learned a long time ago not to expect a movie to accurately reflect a book, the formats do not translate well. Something that takes pages to describe in a book takes only moments to show in a movie. It’s better to just enjoy them separately.

Common Sense on December 22, 2012 at 12:52 PM

Oh wait, I know, this way they can make it into more movies than needed.

Yakko77 on December 22, 2012 at 10:18 AM

Well, there is precedence

RoadRunner on December 22, 2012 at 1:30 PM

RoadRunner on December 22, 2012 at 1:30 PM

heh. I love the HISHE videos.

Yakko77 on December 22, 2012 at 1:57 PM

The Hobbit is a children’s novel, and written with children in mind, rather than the sprawling Lord of the Rings and the vast legendarium lurking behind it. Tolkien later had to revise key parts of The Hobbit after LOTR was written to bring it more into sync with the latter – but there’s still a very real difference in tone and details.

It’s about one fifth the length of LOTR, and even that masks its simplicity, since characterization is generally much more abbreviated, and the narrative much more straightforward. You could easily shoot The Hobbit in a 2.5 to 3 hour movie, and remain quite faithful to virtually all of the story, losing little along the way.

But I get that Jackson wants to bring both books into closer harmony, tonally and otherwise. All right, fair enough. Thorin actually *does* come off better in the movie, a more rounded and sympathetic character; in fact, so does Bilbo, and so does Balin. Gandalf’s deeper motives for pushing the quest can also bear a little fleshing out. So I get how you could flesh this out to, say, two lengthy movies if you really wanted to.

But three movies – nine hours? I am afraid I share Jazz’s concerns. He’s padded it too much. Too many flashbacks and subplots. Too many eye-jarring frenetic chase scenes. In short, it’s just too much. Jackson needed an editor, or a studio imposing some discipline on him.

But that wasn’t likely with a guy who cleared three billion and change for them the last time they allowed him to tackle Tolkien. And they can ride their reservations all the way to the bank, because three movies will make more money than two, let alone one.

The_Jacobite on December 22, 2012 at 1:57 PM

I’m interested to see how in the heck it is stretched to 3 movies, seeing as how the first ended about halfway through the book.

William Teach on December 22, 2012 at 11:53 AM

My guess: The second movie will end with the introduction of Smaug, as Bilbo and the Dwarves finally reach the Lonely Mountain – that would make sense for the title they have chosen.

But everything after that – Smaug’s attack on Laketown and death, the siege, the Battle of the Five Armies, the journey home – will come after, and all padded out accordingly.

We will also see the White Council meet, and their driving of Sauron out of Dol Guldor. I don’t know where they’ll squeeze that in, but I suspect the Council happen in in Movie 2, and Dol Guldur in Movie 3.

The_Jacobite on December 22, 2012 at 2:01 PM

I hate it when Jackson and his writers somehow think they are better writers than JRR Tolkien. It’s like he had a good idea, but we need to spiff it up and make it better, or modern. He is an idiot that wouldn’t know great writing if it smacked him in the face.

odannyboy on December 22, 2012 at 11:05 AM

I don’t think Jackson’s intelligence is in question.
His love of money is the root of this evil.

Three films can make more money than one, so he added a lot of stuff.
It’s as easy as that.

itsnotaboutme on December 22, 2012 at 2:24 PM

I learned a long time ago not to expect a movie to accurately reflect a book, the formats do not translate well. Something that takes pages to describe in a book takes only moments to show in a movie. It’s better to just enjoy them separately.

Common Sense on December 22, 2012 at 12:52 PM

I’ve used this example frequently, including when the first LOTR movie came out: A few years back, my wife and I went to go see Kansas and Styx, more for the former than the latter. During show, Styx did “Foolin’ Yourself,” and one of the fans exclaimed joyfully, “Wow! They did it just like on the album.” What I didn’t say — but really wanted to — was, “Wow! You just got ripped off; you already own the album.”

So, yeah. Jackson’s company shouldn’t make the movie like the book because that’d be a rip off for all those who have already bought and read the book. The quality of the interpetation, on the other hand…

apostic on December 22, 2012 at 2:57 PM

“The hard-core anti-tax conservatives in the GOP seem to believe that Barack Obama will be blamed if there is no agreement reached to avoid sequestration and the tax increases that are coming,” said Sheldon D. Pollack

The spin is getting tedious

repeat after me there is no crisis. It is made up crap by the elites to spook the people into accepting tax hikes and giving their voters the other party to blame. the fact of the matter is this was set in motion months ago.

..this is the some crap they do with free trade and open borders. The elites get what they want open borders and free trade and blame the “otherside” for outsourcing and illgeal immigrants.
wake the hell up people.
unseen on December 22, 2012 at 2:12 PM

A lot of truth in what you say. This is a setup. Exactly who is involved is debatable

Rush was correct. Obama wanted Boehner to offer a no strings tax hike, which he could use as a signed confession that the upper GOP finally admits undertaxation is the only problem. Obama ran all over TV proclaiming just that

Obama did not need the bill to pass. He just needed the signature

1. The Senate was going home. Obviously they did not want a bill to pass. Question: Did Boehner not know this (LOL) or did he push a bill in the House which was guaranteed to fail – in the House, so he could blame Tea Party? With no Senate, the onus is on the House

2. I watched Boehner react to how his own party ‘failed’ to help him avoid the fiscal cliff Question: is Boehner a naive fool, or does he want the public to turn on the ones in his own party who did not go along with Boehner. Whether he wanted to stage a purge or not, Boehner pulled a Christie, he set up a play which made his own group look like they were the ones who did not care, by isolating the players and siding with the opposition (the WH). For this, I can call him a fool

Boehner had no hope to produce a bill the Senate would approve. If you think you are outvoted, you have no gain in compromising your base. Write legislation to the base, and let the other party own the outcome.

Clue: when Boehner demoted Tea Party as ‘untrusted’ he signaled the Tea Party was his problem. Then if the vote failed, he could finger this group

One gets a leadership position either by smarts, or by being a useable stooge. Takes your pick. Congress has both

entagor on December 22, 2012 at 3:09 PM

Wow, wrong thread

Sorry about that

Certainly not a post about Hobbit

I was in the unpleasant thread. See you and Merry Christmas!

entagor on December 22, 2012 at 3:13 PM

During my 50 years on this earth, I’ve seen no more than two movie treatments that were reasonably true to, and as good as, the novels. One of those was the LOTR trilogy. Guess its back to business as usual now for Hollywood.

Wolf Howling on December 22, 2012 at 3:20 PM

I’m more hyped for Les Mis anyway. I’ll wait for the Hobbit on dvd.

mythicknight on December 22, 2012 at 3:30 PM

I’m more hyped for Les Mis anyway. I’ll wait for the Hobbit on dvd.

mythicknight on December 22, 2012 at 3:30 PM

Well you obviously don’t have a Y chromosome.

njrob on December 22, 2012 at 4:09 PM

I don’t think Jackson’s intelligence is in question.
His love of money is the root of this evil.

Three films can make more money than one, so he added a lot of stuff.
It’s as easy as that.

itsnotaboutme on December 22, 2012 at 2:24 PM

I like to think Jackson is more grounded than, say, Lucas…who was certainly thinking of deeper pockets.

I was actually pleasantly surprised with The Hobbit. I had stated earlier that, from the trailer, it looked almost too light-hearted, or comedic as Ed put it…and for me there was actually much less of it than I expected.

True, some twisting of the storyline was done…but that’s happened to every movie on many different levels that was taken from a book. One of the worst I saw was Jurassic Park…the ending was completely different when Hammond lives in the movie and it changed a big part of the whole feel of the story.

All in all, The Hobbit was worth the watch.

JetBoy on December 22, 2012 at 4:33 PM

Radagast is the JarJar of this prequel. What the hell?

munseym on December 22, 2012 at 4:55 PM

And of course the Rock Giants scene…I kept thinking THIS guy might show up…

JetBoy on December 22, 2012 at 5:18 PM

I haven’t seen it, but I’m already over it.

Peter Jackson showed me his inner Lucas when he absolutely ruined “The Return of the King”… and, by extension, the entire trilogy… by omitting the “scouring of the Shire.”

That was an inexcusable travesty, almost as bad as stretching “The Hobbit” into three films, that did disrespectful violence to Tolkien’s vision.

I will see The Hobbit, I’m sure, but I’m prepared to be let down and disgusted.

cane_loader on December 22, 2012 at 6:25 PM

Not to mention how Jackson omitted the passing of the Elves and of Gandalf and Frodo and Galadriel and Elrond to the Grey Havens, and over the Sea.

The ending of Return of the King was a sorry disgrace, akin to the dancing whatevers at the end of Return of the Jedi.

I was sad and upset with the cheesy, corrupted, crappy Hollywood ending.

Tolkien’s wistful, beautiful ending ot the trilogy was thrown in the scrapheap.

cane_loader on December 22, 2012 at 6:28 PM

@cane_loader I think they showed the heading to the grey havens in the extended edition

Imrahil on December 22, 2012 at 8:12 PM

Peter Jackson showed me his inner Lucas when he absolutely ruined “The Return of the King”… and, by extension, the entire trilogy… by omitting the “scouring of the Shire.”

cane_loader on December 22, 2012 at 6:25 PM

I don’t think it ruined it all, but that utterly disgusted me. STILL bothers me. STILL. SARUMAN DIDN’T DIE THAT WAY, FFS.

I just got back from seeing the Hobbit this evening. I have only recently began rereading it since my childhood, so, I missed a lot. I didn’t dislike the tone, really…I don’t see a problem with tying in the LOTR, and a lot of the movie was quite good. That said, the beginning with elder Bilbo/Frodo was superfluous, and I agree there was a lot of unnecessary dead space. They very easily could have made a single, solid four hour movie and done it complete justice. Better yet, why the heck didn’t Jackson START with the Hobbit, anyway? eh.

I don’t have a problem with “fleshing out” or stretching existing material (from appendixes or the Sil) but creating characters and rewriting entire scenes whole cloth/switching who does what is, frankly, audacious and insulting. To think they could have written it better…

Bee on December 22, 2012 at 9:20 PM

I’m out of place here. I read The Lord of the Rings when it was first published, based on a review in Fanasy and Science Fiction, and it has been an important part of my life ever since; I read the entire trilogy to my kids. Finally, I watched the first of the movies, and really detested it. Not only did the characters ring false (Aragorn particularly), but they left out critical parts of the story. My observation at the time was that filming should have taken six movies, one for each book (not volume) in the series, and then they could have begun to do justice to Tolkien’s grand conception.

I actually read The Hobbit later, and always found it a bit slight, as it was written for children, and had a bit of a patronizing tone thereby. So to see this director stretching it out to three movies seems odd, quixotic. I think I’ll avoid them all, as I’ve avoided The Lord of the Rings movies; I’ll let the author’s words continue to ring in my head, and my own visions of the world he conjured up remain unsullied by some movie man’s idea.

MrLynn on December 22, 2012 at 11:35 PM

I have not yet seen the movie. I think I am rather dismayed to find it is being stretched out over three movies. Personally, I would have wanted it in two, if it could not fit into one. I guess I’ll see whether how the first movie proceeds leads me to feel that two additional movies were justified.

I do have to admit that I get a chuckle remembering when I saw the first movie of LOTR when the last scene was Sam and Frodo heading off then the credits began to roll and I could hear someone speak out, “Is that it”?

I am probably not a purist so leaving out parts would probably not bother me much. But that’s just me.

I still intend to see the movie and make my own judgement.

Russ808 on December 23, 2012 at 1:18 AM

Peter Jackson showed me his inner Lucas when he absolutely ruined “The Return of the King”… and, by extension, the entire trilogy… by omitting the “scouring of the Shire.”

cane_loader on December 22, 2012 at 6:25 PM

Think about how many complaints there were that Jackson’s RETURN OF THE KING had “too many endings.”

Now think about how much louder they would be if you put in that extra subplot for an extra 15-20 minutes of screen time AFTER Frodo has destroyed the Ring – on top of all the other things you have to show (Frodo’s saving and healing, the crowning and wedding, Frodo leaving Bag End to Sam, the departure from the Grey Havens, etc.).

Even Tolkien, in one of his letters, conceded that the Scouring might have to be cut in an adaptation. I think that the Scouring, along with Bombadil, are defensible excisions, because they really take away from the main narrative. They’re perfect examples of diversions that can work on the printed page, but not on the screen. And I say that affirming that both are two of may favorite parts of the novels.

Now, there were OTHER departures by Jackson that I thought were terrible ideas. Not least what was done to Aragorn’s and Faramir’s characters. But that’s in part because the changes actually worked less on the screen, not just because they departed from the book.

The_Jacobite on December 23, 2012 at 1:18 AM

Better yet, why the heck didn’t Jackson START with the Hobbit, anyway? eh.

Bee on December 22, 2012 at 9:20 PM

Because New Line DID have the rights to LORD OF THE RINGS, but did not have undisputed rights to film THE HOBBIT. New Line had the production rights to THE HOBBIT, but not the distribution rights. United Artists owned that. So New Line gave a green light to the work it DID have an undisputed right to produce and distribute, once Jackson made the pitch to them.

They actually needed a long and ugly legal battle with UA/MGM to get control of that in order to get the film rolling – and then another with Christopher Tolkien over unpaid royalties. That’s why the HOBBIT films were delayed a few years.

The_Jacobite on December 23, 2012 at 1:28 AM

Abbreviated, perhaps. Made somewhat cheap? Not at all. Not nearly.

Dunedainn on December 23, 2012 at 3:20 AM

I’m in the States for the holidays, and I admit I am a bit jet lagged. But I fell asleep in the movie. Twice.

I’m a huge fan of the Hobbit and LOTR books, and I expected more. There were too many things missing and out of order. The movie just sort of plodded along, and never really got there. Hope the others are better.

Side note: 007 was sold out and Hobbit was nearly empty. Wonder what that means?

Bigurn on December 23, 2012 at 6:52 AM

We sawit last night and loved it. I suspect that the more “cartoonist” parts were included to accommodate the 3D. That is the bly thing that really bugged me is some of the scenes in 3Dthe were just so much color mush a ll running together.

LL

Lady Logician on December 23, 2012 at 8:50 AM

I went with my children to see it, only my son liked the movie. My daughters gave it a non-committal “ok” which translates to “don’t like”. 3D kind of ruined it for me. Details catch my attention, and rubber fingers seem inept in this age of CGI. I wanted to like the movie, I have read Tolkien’s stories, including Silmarillion, and have seen the Lord of The Ring trilogy.

It seems to me that 3D was done for 3D sake and was annoying, at best. The only partially enjoyable 3D effect was the sparks floating out of the chimney.

A lot of the added events appear to be done as filler so they can make The Hobbit a trilogy. I don’t really mind that movies add filler, as long as it doesn’t detract from the story line.

A lot of the fight scenes came out of Indiana Jones, or UA/MGM theme parks. I guess we know what the theme is for summer vacation.

Had this been the first attempt 20 years ago, and done without 3D it probably would have been a good movie.

Rode Werk on December 23, 2012 at 10:25 AM

Think about how many complaints there were that Jackson’s RETURN OF THE KING had “too many endings.”

Now think about how much louder they would be if you put in that extra subplot for an extra 15-20 minutes of screen time AFTER Frodo has destroyed the Ring – on top of all the other things you have to show (Frodo’s saving and healing, the crowning and wedding, Frodo leaving Bag End to Sam, the departure from the Grey Havens, etc.).

Even Tolkien, in one of his letters, conceded that the Scouring might have to be cut in an adaptation. I think that the Scouring, along with Bombadil, are defensible excisions, because they really take away from the main narrative. They’re perfect examples of diversions that can work on the printed page, but not on the screen. And I say that affirming that both are two of may favorite parts of the novels.

Now, there were OTHER departures by Jackson that I thought were terrible ideas. Not least what was done to Aragorn’s and Faramir’s characters. But that’s in part because the changes actually worked less on the screen, not just because they departed from the book.

The_Jacobite on December 23, 2012 at 1:18 AM

My answer is that The Return of the King should have been two movies. It’s the most complicated of the books, with a wonderful sense of crescendo. I think that most of the “too many endings” complaints stemmed more form the fact that the movie was long and people were getting a little tired at the end. There was plenty of great material omitted, especially the scouring of the Shire and the death of Saruman, that two very well-paced movies could have been made.

cane_loader on December 23, 2012 at 11:16 AM

The Eagles were also reduced to just dumb animals which no one thanked or even acknowledged two seconds before they even departed. One of the more touching scenes I felt from the book was the eagle king speaking to Gandalf… nopen, none of that here.

Ukiah on December 23, 2012 at 11:56 AM

My favorite character was the Great Goblin.
On a totally unrelated note, this is the only Michael Moore film I will ever willingly see.

Dunedainn on December 24, 2012 at 1:59 AM