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Author Topic: The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey  (Read 5477 times)
DKT
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« on: December 28, 2012, 12:13:00 PM »

I saw the Hobbit (Part 1) a couple nights ago.

I know there's a lot of criticism about the movie being overstuffed and overlong, some complaints about pacing, etc. And maybe hearing all that tempered my expectations somewhat? Because I loved every minute of it. Revisiting Peter Jackson's Middle Earth is like the perfect cinematic comfort food for me, I think. It's not perfect, and it's not what FotR was to me, but it still very much hit the spot. I held off rereading it before I saw it which was probably for the best, but it'll probably be one of the first things I listen to in 2013. In the end, I'm glad there's another couple films coming, although I wish somehow Jackson could make 20 more Middle Earth adventures.

Anybody else see it? What'd you guys think?
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« Reply #1 on: December 28, 2012, 02:24:10 PM »

I had no problem with the pace or length. Where it disappointed me was where it relied on cinematic cliches (someone really needs to ban characters going "NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!" from movies forever) and having Thorin feign being angry then give Bilbo a big hug, etc. C'mon Peter, you can do better than that. Also, disliked certain little things that echoed the LOTR trilogy- like the thing with the ring flipping in the air and magically coming down in just such a way as to get on Bilbo's finger. I know, I know, magic ring and all that, but it still looks ludicrous. Also, Gandalf doing the "gets big and scary" thing to get the dwarves to shut up felt very forced, like it was just wedged in there to be a call back to the LOTR trilogy. Surely he could have gotten them all to shut up in a manner not involving being scary - something with a little humor would have been more his style, IMHO. Unless all those things are true to the book. They might be, I'm not sure. If so, I should just shup up and eat my complaints - being true to the source material is more important than not being repetitive.

I realize those are all kind of little things, it's just there were so many little things it started to get really irritating. I wasn't sure what I thought about the singing dwarves. A little too silly for my tastes, I think. And the beginning part with Frodo felt quite tacked on too. I really think that was unnecessary, or could have been done differently - I donno, didn't sit well with me.

On the other hand, things that were excellent:

Ian McKellen.
Martin Freeman.
The riddle scene with Gollum.
That teaser of a look at Smaug! Want moar!
And, of course, the stunning visuals.

So yeah. Not entirely sure how I felt about it (especially since I just realized some of my complaints might be mitigated if I had read the books more recently..). Didn't like it as much as I wanted to (HUGE fan of the LOTR trilogy).
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Ocicat
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« Reply #2 on: December 28, 2012, 03:28:00 PM »

Ya, I thought it was overall enjoyable, but too long for the amount of story covered, and overly self indulgent.  Mostly for the reasons Talia listed already (over-long prelude at the birthday party from the beginning of Fellowship, other LotR callbacks) but also for some over-done action sequences.  Did we need the escape from the goblins to be that long and that implausible?  It reminded me a lot of Jackson's action scenes in King Kong, which really didn't need that many characters falling down chasms on logs. 

But I'm looking forward to the other two movies, including the bits we're going to see with the battle against the Necromancer, which certainly wasn't in the Hobbit, but did happen in the same time period, as covered in the appendices of the LotR books.
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« Reply #3 on: December 28, 2012, 03:49:44 PM »

I have a MASSIVE soft spot for anything Tolkien. People complain about the filler parts of the various books and I shrug and say "the more the better! Bring it on!"

So, that disclaimer in place, I loved the movie. Smiley I loved the dwarfs singing, I loved the callbacks to the LotR movies (though I 100% agree that Gandalf getting bigger to shut the dwarfs up did seem very out of place), and I loved all of the materials from the appendices that was added in. I even got excited by the opening scene with Frodo and thought it did a great job of anchoring people in the story, especially those who haven't read the book. What can I say? I'm a total fangirl when it comes to this subject. Smiley
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« Reply #4 on: December 30, 2012, 12:42:20 PM »

Best fanboy moment? Gandalf not being able to recall the names of the blue wizards.
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« Reply #5 on: April 21, 2013, 01:22:56 PM »

Best fanboy moment? Gandalf not being able to recall the names of the blue wizards.

I read someplace that the reason for that is that Jackson doesn't have rights to The Silmarillion and The Book of Lost Tales, and the Tolkien estate has been rather vigilant about any references to those works.
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« Reply #6 on: April 23, 2013, 09:23:49 PM »

Best fanboy moment? Gandalf not being able to recall the names of the blue wizards.

I read someplace that the reason for that is that Jackson doesn't have rights to The Silmarillion and The Book of Lost Tales, and the Tolkien estate has been rather vigilant about any references to those works.

Yeah, Christopher Tolkien will never let go of The Silmarillion. We'll have to see what his children and other estate heirs have to say about it. He hasn't been terribly excited about the Peter Jackson treatment. Say what you will about shield surfing, dwarf tossing, and silly gross humor - Peter Jackson has gotten another generation of folks to pick up Tolkien's works and read them.

Tolkien fans and podcast listeners should add The Tolkien Professor to their rotation. He's an English professor who does serious and deep analysis of Tolkien's work. He's made me almost ready to try to read the Silmarillion again.
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« Reply #7 on: February 02, 2015, 04:57:56 PM »

Somebody PLEASE help me find the doorway to the Impossible Dreams universe. Maybe in that world, Guillermo del Toro directed The Hobbit and it's a single film, not a goddamn trilogy.
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« Reply #8 on: February 02, 2015, 07:57:36 PM »


Somebody PLEASE help me find the doorway to the Impossible Dreams universe. Maybe in that world, Guillermo del Toro directed The Hobbit and it's a single film, not a goddamn trilogy.


I'd love to see this as well, but I suspect it still would have been at least two films. The book read aloud is over nine hours

PJ had the unenviable task that Tolkien himself started but never completed: to re-interpret The Hobbit as a prequel to LotR. I really liked the preservation of so many lines from the text, and Thorin's death was full of pathos. And I never expected them to actually knock Bilbo out. If it suffered from anything, it was TOO slavish to the text and didn't allow itself to fully embrace the adaptation to a visual medium.

However, I will grant that there was a distinct dearth of Beorn in the last film, ballistic deployment and all. I would have traded 30 minutes of ninja elf for another 5 minutes of Beorn.
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« Reply #9 on: February 03, 2015, 10:04:00 AM »

I'd love to see this as well, but I suspect it still would have been at least two films. The book read aloud is over nine hours


By that criteria, Fellowship of the Ring alone would have been four films, as the book read aloud is nearly 20 hours.

Most succesful book adaptations take books that are longer than the Hobbit and effectively tell the story in a 2-hour movie. There was zero reason for the Hobbit to be more than one movie.
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« Reply #10 on: February 03, 2015, 10:34:23 AM »

I don't think it's unreasonable for the Hobbit to have been more than one movie, if there was a good reason to do so. The trouble is, I'm not sure Jackson and Co. knew what the reason was, especially when they decided to expand to a third film.

But despite my loving "every minute of it" of the first one as I said up top, I can still see that 9 hours of movies for this particular novel is a bit much. (FTR, I still have yet to see the second two movies. I suspect I'll generally enjoy watching them, though I doubt I'll enjoy them as much as LotR.)
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« Reply #11 on: February 03, 2015, 11:02:03 AM »

Most succesful book adaptations take books that are longer than the Hobbit and effectively tell the story in a 2-hour movie. There was zero reason for the Hobbit to be more than one movie.

THIS
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« Reply #12 on: February 03, 2015, 11:12:43 AM »

Most succesful book adaptations take books that are longer than the Hobbit and effectively tell the story in a 2-hour movie. There was zero reason for the Hobbit to be more than one movie.

THIS

What?
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« Reply #13 on: February 03, 2015, 06:17:43 PM »

I think that criticism of the films on length alone is lazy. So my defense of length is equally flip. This critique is just as utterly ridiculous as the internet's love of solving everything with eagles.

Instead, I challenge you to put on your critical thinking cap and discuss:
  • How they fundamentally changed characters (e.g. Faramir in ROTK)
  • The insertion, manufacture, or expansion of characters
  • How the Arkenstone was handled
  • What certain action scenes contributed to the story
  • Why the Rankin Bass adaptation did it so much better in a fraction of the time
  • How effectively this works as a prequel to the LOTR films
  • How the tone and style of the novel evolves, and how the tone of the film matches they style of the novel and the LOTR films
  • What were the dramatic implications of the characters they chose to kill (and those who were mystifyingly spared)?

There are places to critique the films in each of these areas that are all significantly more interesting that discussing adaptation length.

I'd love to see this as well, but I suspect it still would have been at least two films. The book read aloud is over nine hours


By that criteria, Fellowship of the Ring alone would have been four films, as the book read aloud is nearly 20 hours.


Eight of which would be walking and five of which would be the Council of Elrond and two of which is a guy telling us about his yellow boots ;-)

There is a lot less action


Most succesful book adaptations take books that are longer than the Hobbit and effectively tell the story in a 2-hour movie. There was zero reason for the Hobbit to be more than one movie.


As I said before, one reason for the Hobbit to be more than one movie is the story must be tonally shifted to be a prequel of the LOTR.

If you trim it down to the essential parts from the published book, what do you retain and what do you eject?

I'll make a stab at it. Riddles in the Dark, clearly must stay, since this is the chapter that Tolkien actually rewrote on the run up to the publication of LOTR. Bilbo and Smaug. The Spiders, capture by the Elves, and barrel ride. Burning of Lake town and Smaug's death. And the Battle of the Five Armies. 15 minutes for each of those plus frame and you're really pushing two hours. And that doesn't even include the trolls, the goblins, the eagles, Beorn, map, thrush, and more.
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« Reply #14 on: February 04, 2015, 10:51:04 AM »

I think that criticism of the films on length alone is lazy. So my defense of length is equally flip. This critique is just as utterly ridiculous as the internet's love of solving everything with eagles.

I disagree. I don't doubt that there are more detailed critiques that can be made, but speaking as the segment of the viewing audience who is not an expert on the books, the best criteria for criticism is how enjoyable the movies are. And length definitely plays into that. "The movie was too long" is a valid critique of *any* movie, the fact that this happens to be The Hobbit doesn't make it immune to that.

Partially I agree with you, though, that three goals of making The Hobbit a prequel to LotR, being faithful to all the major scenes of the book, and making it enjoyable are not all achievable within the same movie. What we ended up with is a series of movies, but instead of that being the solution, it still doesn't achieve goal 3, and depending on how much of a purist you are, doesn't achieve goal 2, either.

If I had to adapt The Hobbit, and assuming that goal 1 was non-negotiable, I'd give up on goal 2. If you'd ask me what has to be included, I'd say:

Bilbo's recruitment (though a lot briefer than it ended up). Trolls. Riddle in the dark. Bilbo and Smaug. Spiders. Burning of lake town and smaug's death. Bilbo's return to the shire. If there's some room, I'd leave in the Battle of the five armies, but honestly, the LotR trilogy had enough boring large-scale battles for me.

Give each of those 10-15 minutes, and you have a really fun 2 hour movie. On that will upset any Tolkien purists, but Tolkien purists should never be allowed near any decision making when it comes to Tolkien adaptations.
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« Reply #15 on: February 04, 2015, 11:01:24 PM »

Given that movies must involve actual humans actually sitting down and presumably not leaving the room for the full duration (since theaters still exist), I'd say that length is ABSOLUTELY a valid concern about a film, at least as a theoretical maximum limit.  ;-)
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« Reply #16 on: February 05, 2015, 06:40:39 AM »

Good news, everybody! Some obsesssive hardworking Tolkien fans/film buffs have done the work for us. Check out the four-hour and/or three-hour cut of the Hobbit movies for an interesting film-editing perspective of why the movies went so wrong.

I think the Tolkien Editor in particular made one great observation about why Jackson's version is so bad: Bilbo has been removed from the center of his own story. The structure of The Hobbit as a book centers around Bilbo's POV, and the story unfolds around that premise, moving from small-to-big as Bilbo ventures outside his home and comfort zone and into the big world beyond. But from the very first scene of the Jackson movie (where we see Smaug invading Erebor), we're already unnecessarily yanked from Bilbo's interests and problems before the movie's even under way. Add to this all the pointless LOTR cameos, the elf/dwarf love triangle, and shoehorning in the Sauron subplot, you end up with a story that's trying to be LOTR in its scope while being utterly boring. We don't enjoy the 9-hour slogfest because we don't have someone to root for and someone to watch grow and change throughout the whole thing.

Contrast this to the LOTR movies, which were built around the carefully balanced multiple POVs present in the books, and therefore unfold properly through the eyes of people who have stakes in the story. And I'll note here that FOTR almost exclusively followed Frodo throughout, just like the book. In TTT and ROTK, the POV jumps a lot more, but still only follows people who have proper character arcs, so at the end the whole Fellowship is changed by the experience.

So take a look at those write-ups about how you could cut Jackson's movies to re-center on Bilbo, and suddenly all our general complaints about it being "too long" fall into a framework that make sense, and show where the cuts should be made. I'm no film expert, so I found a lot of this really interesting, especially some of the smaller cuts and the reasons given for them.
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« Reply #17 on: February 05, 2015, 06:55:44 AM »

Oh! And while I'm taking about how cool this cut is, take a look at how s/he overlaid the big, long dwarf song with a quick montage of Smaug's original invasion. IMHO, such a great effect! It could've been such a cool movie, if it had been properly edited. At least there will be great fan cuts. Smiley
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« Reply #18 on: February 05, 2015, 10:59:40 AM »

Well, I aint seen it, and since I can't actually see, I aint planning to.

I will say one thing though. On the subject of length, there is a single governing factor for the length of a movie, and that is how long can you reasonably expect the target audience to sit in one place stuffing their faces with hot dogs and popcorn and guzzling litre sized cups of cola without needing to visit the Little-Audience-Members room?

Still, since The Hobbit is a kids story, (I first read it at primary school) I might suggest that by that criterion, even one 3-hour instalment might be too long.
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« Reply #19 on: February 05, 2015, 01:01:33 PM »

Something I've found interesting since, well, I guess since I studied screenwriting lo these many moons ago, is the rigid devotion structure and length of films. From a commercial side, I get it. If movie's are much longer than two hours, they get less showings every day, and so less $ taken in.

From an artistic standpoint, I find it kind of annoying. I mean, if children can read a 900 page book like Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix and be begging for more, I don't see why they can't sit a little longer for a movie. I guess it's a cultural thing - it's been how Hollywood and film companies and filmmakers have functioned under it for a long time. I suppose it's changing with us binge-watching seasons of TV shows over the weekends, etc., although that's a different medium with it's own constraints. With film, the 120-ish minutes running time is still kind of a holy thing. The LotR films broke it, Avatar broke it, some non-genre epics have broken it (to varying commercial and critical success). But generally, it still prevails.

Now we're in the age where a movie is split into multiple movies, which is another kind of weird, which brings us back to the commercial side of things - Jackson's three Hobbit movies made waaaaaaaaaaaaaay more for the studios than a single film or even two would've. Commercially successful, critically? Not so much.   

I guess what I'm really saying is I want to watch Boyhood this weekend (2 hours, 45 minutes), chase it with some Pixar and Disney shorts, then finally cue up the 5 hour Che Guevara biopic and try and figure out how much longer it is until the Daredevil series comes out on Netflix.
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