Monday, July 30, 2012

There And Back Again, And Again, And Again...

After a couple of weeks of what I wrote off as internet rumor, Peter Jackson has confirmed that his film adaptation of The Hobbit will now be padded and stretched out into a trilogy, instead of the originally agreed upon duology, or whatever you call two films.

I have a bad feeling about this. I feel like the story's going to be thin, sort of stretched, like butter scraped over too much bread (if you're a Tolkien fan you'll be "LOLing" on the floor right about now).

Anyone who thinks this is anything but a blatant and transparent cash grab, leave now. I mean it. Go. Go on! Git! We don't need your optimistic naivete around here. This is nothing but a brazen move on the part of New Line, MGM and Peter Jackson to shoehorn another film into the franchise (whether it needs it or not) and soak us all for another admission ticket. Anyone who believes otherwise... go now. I mean it. We don't want your kind here.

I was dubious at the prospect of splitting The Hobbit into two movies to begin with. It's a simple little story that could easily and comfortably be told in a single three hour film. Splitting it into two parts felt unnecessary and bordered on studio greed. To add a third film is just slathering cash icing on a big ol' three layer greed cake.
Don't believe me? Let's examine this handy chart that I had to make, because I couldn't find my paperback copies of Lord Of The Rings anywhere in my disaster area of a house.

The Hobbit is a short, fast paced little book that clocks in at around 300 pages (depending on the edition). Compare that to Lord Of The Rings trilogy that weighs in at around 1200 pages. How in the name of Gimli's Beard are they going to stretch The Hobbit out over three films? Are these Hobbit movies going to be three hour affairs like the Lord of the Rings movies? Is there really nine hours worth of content here? I don't even think it takes the audio book guy that long to read The Hobbit aloud.

Jackson claims that there is indeed plenty of material; scenes that happen "off camera" plus loads of stuff in the appendices. Yeah well, that may be true, but most of the time the material that's relegated to the appendix is located there for a reason. Like most of the deleted scenes on DVDs.

Jackson and Tolkien fans are for the most part ecstatic about this development, saying that the more time we get to spend in the magical world of Middle Earth, the better. I disagree. Tolkien's story moved along at a brisk pace, moving from one adventure to another over its short page count. Stretching the story out into three films is going to destroy any sense of pacing and urgency that Tolkien intended. Expect endless stretches of knowing glances and pregnant pauses.

I don't see any way these films can not feel bloated. We're talking about Peter Jackson after all, the man who took the original King Kong, which was a scant 100 minutes, and gave us an overlong and padded 187 minute remake.

I really loved the Lord of the Rings movies and I hope that The Hobbit turns out just as well, but frankly I see ominous clouds building on the horizon. First it was announced they were filming it in 3D, which I find unnecessary and loathsome. Then Jackson insisted on shooting the movie at 48 frames per second, which according to those who've seen it, make the movie look like it was filmed on cheap videotape. And now this trilogy deal.

I've gotta say my enthusiasm is now considerably dulled.


  1. Totally agree with you. I think it would make a fine fast-paced two hour film. Nine hours (or whatever) -- I guess they're going to throw in The Silmarillion, and all of the other marginalia that was published posthumously? If you delve into all that, yeah I'm sure there are 9 hours of film there -- but would it be a story anybody would want to sit through? (And would it still be "The Hobbit"?)

  2. Yup! Jackson says that with this extra film he can now add in things like Gandalf's secret mission, the rise of the Necromancer and the Battle of Dol Guldur.

    I've read the book several times and I have no idea what any of that stuff is. I guess I must not have read the appendices. My feeling is that if that stuff was really that important, then why isn't it in the main story, instead of tucked away in the back?


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