I went with my wife and stepson to see The Hobbit on Friday evening. I watched what they are calling the “standard” edition (2D at 24 frames per second) because a) stereoscopic 3D gives me a headache and b)48 frames per second doesn’t seem like cinema to me. It wasn’t horrible per se but I couldn’t fully enjoy myself. Why, you might ask? Mostly it was because of the sheer hubris Peter Jackson is showing in trying to turn this book into a three movie epic. This article from Wired expresses my feelings pretty well:
The Hobbit simply is not epic material. It was, is and always will be a light hearted adventure. The two hours and forty-six minutes allotted to this installment is more than adequate to relate the entire book. The entirety of The Fellowship of the Ring, a book 100 pages longer, was told in this amount of time.
The addition of story lines that aren’t in the book and don’t advance the story or make it flow better for film but are merely there to pad out the film so it can become a 9 hour epic (my guesstimate) is what really bothers me.
The parts that follow the books plot are well told even when embellished for the modern film audience. The bits the we’re created simply to increase the length of the films seem ham handed to me. My wife noticed a discernible tension radiating from me every time one of these scenes came on the screen. They didn’t feel right to me and made me physically uncomfortable.
I’ve read the book at least fifty times in the last thirty years and listened to it on audiobook at least 20 more. I played the part of Bert the troll in a local theatre production 26 years ago and still remember my lines. I can quote the opening paragraphs from memory and own several obscure texts of Middle Earth lore. This material is as familiar to me as my own children. I eagerly waited for someone to bring this material to the screen and was thrilled with what Jackson gave us in The Lord of the Rings.
The Hobbit feels wrong. I’ll watch the other two. I’ll buy them all as well. Then, because I’m a filmmaker myself, I’ll bring them all into Final Cut Pro and I’ll cut out all excess bits and create the three hour version of The Hobbit that should have been. Then everything will be right with the universe once more.