The Big Picture: Is The Hobbit Too Long?

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Zachary Amaranth:

bdcjacko:

For the most part though the 90s had much fewer big release a year, unlike today where there are more movies released a month than for all summer 1992

That's still not enough, considering how much of a minority they were and how much crap they took. It was never really an accepted trend and was aimed mostly at serious, dramatic movies. The fact that we can now see high fantasy movies that are like 3-4 hours long is definitely a change.

NOW GIT AWF MAH LAWN!

Pfft, my point still remains that you are old.

smartalec:

Twilight_guy:
Also, Galadriel is probably not the best female to insert int eh story as she kind of does nothing but look pretty and manipulate others. (Both of which fit into two sexist notion of what women are).

Some folk are being concerned with spoilers, so I'll just say that they likely needed to introduce Galadriel here so that her appearance and actions in a later part of the trilogy don't come out of nowhere.

I think there's a lot of stuff in this first movie that we're going to look back on after having seen the whole trilogy and say to ourselves, 'oh, that's why they put that in'. Likely over half of this movie is setting up stuff that'll be important in the next movies. Radagast, Dol Guldur, the Spiders, the White Council, the Ring, Azog the Pale Orc, death of the Great Goblin, Erebor, the Dwarves, Bilbo's sword and its current namelessness, the dwarvish key and the prophecy about the side-door...

I think that's why this movie feels weird. Fellowship of the Ring's stuff mostly paid off during that movie - the Fellowship was created and ended, the relationships between the characters were all resolved (and then never changed for the next 2 movies) the Ring and Sauron's influence was felt from the beginning, Saruman was introduced and had an active role in events...

There's comparatively little payoff in Unexpected Journey, it's all being saved up for the next 2. That's why it feels too long to some.

Certain elements, such as the key and the side door, are important and were in the hobbit. Other elements are not important and were in other books. Some things contribute to the story and other will never contribute to the main story unless they deviate far and away from he book. For example, everything to do with "the White Council" will not influence the main story because it has nothing to do with Bilbo and the dwarfs. The only way to make it important is to fuck around with the story of the hobbit. For example, the pale orc wasn't in the hobbit. He was added to give the movie a villain (and probably was in one of the other Middle Earth books besides the Hobbit or the LotR). The actual role that this plays in the events of the rest of the story is... none outside of shadowy people influencing the situation at best. It has nothing to do with Smog, his death, the dwarfs or the war of five sides (though I'm guessing that Mr. white orc will probably be leading the orcs in that battle now). It would take some epic story rewrites to make any of the characters at the council (aside from Gandalf) relevant. The movies have stayed more or less on target so far so I have no reason to think they're going to shoe-horn in some reworking here to make certain elements like Sauron relevant.

Even if they do though, those elements still are unnecessary. Having story elements that are not relevant until much later on in this section is unnecessary. They should be introduced and explained in the section where they are relevant. For example, having more or less an introduction of Sauron and the Nazgul in the first movie of the Hobbit is like people talking about Han Solo in episode 1. Even if you mention him again in episode 2 and 3, there is such a huge stretch of time before he becomes relevant in any way that all it does 3 movie before-hand is distract. A movie has to be striped of irrelevant elements and many of the elements like the council and Radagast have nothing to do with the main story besides being foreboding and introducing things that are important in the Lord of the Rings. Sauron is a distraction since the villain is Smog talking about Mr. ominous only takes away form the story by taking the threat away from Smog since the big bad is no longer this dragon but this mystery guy who scares even Gandalf while smog only make him a little worried.

Also, I have no idea why they couldn't just identify Sting. Is there any reason for not naming it until later? What possible reason could they have for not identifying it when it is in the book, at the same time as the other swords.

But the key point is that introducing things that have no relevance to the current issues just so you can use them later is terrible story telling.

Oh, absolutely.

The source is a book fit to be read to kids or read by them. Blowing it up and making shit up seems very a Smaug thing to do, really. The present first one seems artificially stretched already, and that's before we have yet another nine hour epos at hand.

I heard the criticism that some people think it was money grabbing to make it into 3 movies.

I haven't read the book. But what I can say is, we will get our money's worth. Yes it's odd having a little book turn into 3 movies... but perhaps people should not think of it as just the Hobbit. It's the Hobbit and what happened around it. I think that's a better setting.

Look forwards to the epic 18hour Middle Earthfest when you watch all 6 films back to back.

I loved the film. I was concerned that the whole film would be set in Bag-end however. Or a large portion.

Yep it's long and kinda boring. They definitely could have sped it up a bit without sacrificing anything. Shouldn't a movie critic criticize?

I think one of the main reasons that the Hobbit's length (pun not intended) is so apparent is because pretty much all the big blockbusters of 2012 have been two-and-a-half to three hours long. There was Cloud Atlas (which can take however long it damn well pleases). Then there were Django Unchained, The Dark Knight Rises, The Avengers and (more recently) Zero Dark Thirty. So it was to be expected that at some point one of these movies was going to take criticism for being long, whether that length is justified or not.

I feel it's too long, but not by much. Their aren't any scenes in the movie I would cut, even the meeting with Elrond Gandalf and Galadrial which I know some people do think though be cut. However, I felt some of the scenes should have been trimmed. The song and dance routine in Bilbo's house felt like it wore out it's welcome a little bit before it ended, and I would have been happy with a slightly shorter rendition of both Ratigast's chase scene (not the one with the Dwarves as well) and the scene where the Dwarves are fighting through the goblin's. It's not that any particular moment is bad, it's just the old film adage, leave them wanting more. Or, an old film editing rule, if you think it's just long enough, you can probably cut out another 5 minutes.

Granted, I am happy that the fight scenes were done how they were instead of how they often are in modern action movies. Cut the movie so tight that you pack twice as many beats in half as much time and leave the audience dizzy and make the job for the CG artists easier since no-one can get a good long look at there work.

And at the end of the day, as a normal viewer, I really enjoyed it. It was mostly as a film student that I felt it could be trimmed a bit more.

If you look at it without any context 2001 A Space Odyssey is a terribly boring movie.

Man, the design for smog was pretty damn laughable, wasn't it?

Of course not. It kept you looking at it and not the watch, so its not too long.
You know a movie is truly good is when after 2,5 hours it ends and you feel cheated becuase surely this was just like 15 minutes right? and then you look at the clock. Yeah, time went that fast.

It wasn't too long, but I found myself repeatedly bored with the story.

too long? hah! i didnt want it to end! i knew it ended similar to the two towers (large battle and then ominous foreshadowing to the next movie) so after every big fight i was like "shit shit shit is it ending soon? okay something new is happening, its not over yet. i cant wait for the next one and id be totally happy if it ended up being even longer

There are only 12 dwarves, Fili Kili Thorin Dwalin Ori Gloin Nori Dori Oin Bombur and Balin make for 11, Bifur Bofur are the same dwarf everyone just kept forgetting if it was a I or a O in his name and called him by both names, even Tolkin screwed this up but no one wanted to admit their mistake, Good catch Bob.

As for the length I dont think the "3 hours" was the issue, or the number of things included, I just felt that 15-20 minutes could have been trimmed out a minute or two at a time. There were a lot of scenes that felt to me like they could have started a bit later and stopped a bit sooner. A lot of stuff that would have hit the cutting room floor in that first "ok we are running long lets see how much we can shave off without losing any dialog or action" just stayed in in my opinion.

I kept seeing things like a slow pan from the wide shot, to the party, to Bilbo, then Bilbo takes a deep breath, looks off, then talks, finishes the statement and ponders for a moment then nods and we go to a shot of Gandalf who takes a deep breath looks off... trimming a couple minutes out of that stuff would have really helped the movie.

Also while I love the idea of the goblin chase it was really hard to see anything or pay attention and it just kept going, I get it infinite goblins run run run.

I think it should have been longer and am waiting to buy the blue ray extended version when it comes out but I'm probably not the best person to ask because i think the lord of the rings trilogy extended edition was too short

What could be cut? Ian Holm and Elijah Woods. I was checking my watch waiting for the film to start then.

Fan wank I liked? Figwit/Brett getting another line.

Ruining the movie for you? Barry Humphries reprises Bruce the Shark from Nemo as the Goblin King...totally the same voice, at least he didn't use Sir Les...though that could have been awesome.

I'm fairly convinced this could have had another hour and I would have still loved it.
The opening scene (which is the one that gets the most complaints) was perfect in my opinion.
Of course, I wish the extended cuts were the theatrical cuts for the original trilogy. So maybe I just like it long...

sure its long, but wile watching it,i was entertained and by the end of the movie, it felt like i watched a 90min movie.

im wondering how long the second part will be. when i think about lord of the rings 3, this was really too long. damn, the ending was just dragging on that even the people in the movies were crying out a bit because we all wanted it to end.

Yes the book was shortest, most light-hearted.. but I enjoyed the movie throughout and I for one am looking forward to the next in the series.

Another film that had a ton of empty space was "tree of life"... there's one movie I don't know if I liked or not...

I have to disagree with Bob on this one.

Almost every scene felt too long.

Props to Jeffers,, he made a great post on page 3 that I agree with.

I think that the goblin chase scene went on far too long. I was getting flash backs to that endless dinosaur stampeed scene from King Kong. The whole Rivendell scene could have been cut and nothing of importance would have been lost as well. It was just tying to forshadow the trilogy, which seems kind of pointless, because well, they already made those films and everyone's seen them already.

I actually liked the white orc subplot. It worked well for final battle, giving both the 'out of the frying pan into the fire' chapter from the book and upping the stakes for the continuation of the Azog/Thorin feud.

Urh:

Mangue Surfer:
Is one Rivendell scene too long. Serious, the Rivendell "videodcast" really boring me.

"Look you stupid nerd fan boy, characters of the Lord of the Rings cameo, now you can masturbate!"

15 minutes wasted.

I completely agree. A lot of the Rivendell stuff is nothing more than a tie-in to the Lord of the Rings movies. While it's well-shot, interesting fan-wank, it is still pure fan-wank; it does nothing to service the plot of The Hobbit. That Morgul blade that they made such a big deal about will likely never be seen or talked about in the remaining two movies, and yet Gandalf can't seem to STFU about it. Whatever happened to Chekhov's gun? Christopher Lee and Cate Blanchett could have been cut from the movie entirely without any impact at all. I suppose Bob's defense would be "hey, people are paying to see shameless fan-wank! Gotta give people what they want!"

It sets up important plot development for the Necromancer storyline for the next two films, which a lot of people just completely don't understand at all. You being one of them.

I'm a software developer, which means I pretty much sit down all day for a living. So it has to be a really long film (over five hours) for me to start feeling uncomfortable!

Which just leaves the question of whether I'm getting bored. I wasn't bored at any point watching The Hobbit, so it wasn't too long for me. But I'm a big fan (of the Hobbit specifically and fantasy in general) so I could watch this stuff all day.

pointless vandalism:
Was it too long? Yes. Period. He is pulling stuff from the Similarion to pad the story on and milk money from the content. Star wars anyone?

Unfortunately, Peter Jackson could only get funding for The Hobbit if he made at least two films. So the padding out was pretty much essential.

It would have been interesting to see what Peter Jackson's one-film version of The Hobbit might have been, but we aren't getting that version. We're getting this version.

scw55:
I heard the criticism that some people think it was money grabbing to make it into 3 movies.

I'm afraid it was absolutely money-grabbing!

Peter Jackson originally asked for funding to make a one-film version of The Hobbit. Probably thanks to his more recent films not doing so well (e.g. Kong) he was refused. The only way he could get the budget he wanted was if he made at least two films. Making two films does not cost twice as much as making one, but can still get twice as many ticket sales, so offers more profit for investors. Somewhere along the line, two films morphed into three (whether by pressure from producers or Jackson's own decision, it's hard to say).

So it's completely unfair to say that the decision to make a trilogy was money-grabbing on the part of Peter Jackson, but pretty fair to say that the decision was made on money terms rather than artistic terms.

Personally, I don't mind that we're getting a padded out version. I would have preferred a one-film version. But I'm interested to see what stuff gets added.

Lord Hosk:
There are only 12 dwarves, Fili Kili Thorin Dwalin Ori Gloin Nori Dori Oin Bombur and Balin make for 11, Bifur Bofur are the same dwarf everyone just kept forgetting if it was a I or a O in his name and called him by both names, even Tolkin screwed this up but no one wanted to admit their mistake, Good catch Bob.

Really? I always thought the entire reason for Bilbo coming along was that there were 13 dwarves! As I remember it, they don't want to have a party of 13 because it's an unlucky number. Gandalf isn't part of their party (as he isn't going to accompany them all the way) so he doesn't get counted. Adding Bilbo to the party brings it up to a nice, safe 14.

EDIT Well, there are certainly 13 in the film. Here are pictures of them all: http://americablog.com/2012/12/the-13-hobbit-dwarves-ranked-by-hotness.html

I personally felt like the movie was playing out in a fashion that felt something like a tv show (albeit much shorter, since it all take place in the same movie), or perhaps some kind of miniseries. The bulk of the movie may be about the journey, but each separate section felt to me like an episode of a very short (very high budget) television episode..

Twilight_guy:
It would take some epic story rewrites to make any of the characters at the council (aside from Gandalf) relevant. The movies have stayed more or less on target so far so I have no reason to think they're going to shoe-horn in some reworking here to make certain elements like Sauron relevant.

Oh, they will. That's certain.

Sauron is a distraction since the villain is Smog talking about Mr. ominous only takes away form the story by taking the threat away from Smog since the big bad is no longer this dragon but this mystery guy who scares even Gandalf while smog only make him a little worried.

Smaug is the main villain of the story, but not for the whole story. I'm guessing they need something to keep things together after Smaug is taken out of the story - structurally, the book falls apart a bit at that point.

Also, I have no idea why they couldn't just identify Sting. Is there any reason for not naming it until later? What possible reason could they have for not identifying it when it is in the book, at the same time as the other swords.

It isn't identified at Rivendell; in the book, Bilbo's sword is genuinely nameless, as in the film. It is just a very old, well-made shortsword (it'd have to be well made; it's over 6000 years old!). Bilbo names it Sting himself after using it to fight the Spiders in Mirkwood. This is why the sword in the Hobbit movie is lacking the elven inscription of its name that it has in the Lord of the Rings movie - Bilbo hasn't had it added yet.

I actually loved the inclusions from the Unfinished Tales and Silimarilion, as well as elements giving background scenes relating the whole thing to LotR. It changed the movie from "a group of dwarves and a hobbit go on an adventure" into something much more complex and inter-whined into the lore. Similarly, no scene that was a part of the original book felt unnecessary. There is no way the movie could make sense to people without the good introduction in the Shire. This is part of Tolkien's way of leading a story.

However, some things that could've been deleted:

- White orc. Really, now? Where did they pull that out from? It completely diminished the power of Uruk-hai. Why did Saruman even bother with genetics if something superior existed before?

- Storm giants. Taking the power of nature metaphor and changing it into a literal fight.

- Radagast. Way too long exposition of his craziness. We could've done without the part at his house and just shown dying forest and him finding the Necromancer's Lair.

With that said, the movie wasn't too long. It was just right.

I clearly remember my first thought when the movie ended and I was leaving the theatre. It was "... That was THREE HOURS LONG?!" I honestly couldn't believe how quickly those three hours have passed and the movie never felt like a drag. So, to me, it was not too long. Initially, I thought I'll get fossilized with the chair in the theatre, but in the end, the movie had a really good flow and pacing and I never actually felt like I was sitting for three hours.

wsmieszek:

- White orc. Really, now? Where did they pull that out from? It completely diminished the power of Uruk-hai. Why did Saruman even bother with genetics if something superior existed before?

Probably just mutations, there were always giant orcs like the Goblin king, Gothmog, Azog and Bolg, he just wanted an entire army of them.

The problem isn't the length, the problem is that the first half is borderline boring.

The part that needed to be cut was that awful opening sequence with Bilbo and Frodo, which served simply as an extended cameo sequence for Elijah Wood. I realise it serves the purpose of sayin "this was written by Biblo in retrospect", but it was so drawn out and ... awkward? Not certain the trip to Rivendell needed to be quite so long, and the flashback to the dwarven attack on Moria could have been accomplished in one scene.

... BUT I never got bored during the film, and I think Bob makes a good point. This is a really, really hard film to cut up and still present coherently. One film is too short, two doesn't cover the ending-then-ending structure and three... well we'll have to wait and see how that works out.

Twilight_guy:

smartalec:
SNIP

Certain elements, such as the key and the side door, are important and were in the hobbit. Other elements are not important and were in other books. Some things contribute to the story and other will never contribute to the main story unless they deviate far and away from he book. For example, everything to do with "the White Council" will not influence the main story because it has nothing to do with Bilbo and the dwarfs. The only way to make it important is to fuck around with the story of the hobbit. For example, the pale orc wasn't in the hobbit. He was added to give the movie a villain (and probably was in one of the other Middle Earth books besides the Hobbit or the LotR).

In the actual novels, he's dead before the story ever began. He got legitimately killed in the war with the Dwarves, not simply getting his arm chopped off.

The actual role that this plays in the events of the rest of the story is... none outside of shadowy people influencing the situation at best. It has nothing to do with Smog, his death, the dwarfs or the war of five sides (though I'm guessing that Mr. white orc will probably be leading the orcs in that battle now). It would take some epic story rewrites to make any of the characters at the council (aside from Gandalf) relevant. The movies have stayed more or less on target so far so I have no reason to think they're going to shoe-horn in some reworking here to make certain elements like Sauron relevant.

They kind of already have.

In the novels, Gandalf is already well aware that the Necromancer is in fact Sauron. He discovered it when trying to find Thorin's father in Dol Goldur, years before the Hobbit takes place. The extended-backstory explains that Gandalf is worried about Smaug precisely because he knows that Sauron is back, and may plan to use him. The whole Dol Goldur thing towards the middle-end of the novel is simply the final movement of a larger narrative that had been happening years before the Hobbit kicked off.

The whole Necromancer backstory in the film is largely made up. Radaghast never started fighting the Witch King around Dol Goldur, radaghast was never attacked by spidersand the White Council never ummed and ahhd at Rivendell about whether Sauron was back or not while the Dwarves sat in reception. That's part of what annoys me about the film, and the defence it's getting from fans. Most of the 'lore' in the film has nothing to do with the book. It's yet more stuff that PJ felt the need to invent for the sake of invention. And that worked so well in the LOTR films...

Even if they do though, those elements still are unnecessary. Having story elements that are not relevant until much later on in this section is unnecessary. They should be introduced and explained in the section where they are relevant.

There's nothing wrong with foreshadowing. The problem is that PJ and co are foreshadowing stuff that simply wasn't in the book.

Also, I have no idea why they couldn't just identify Sting. Is there any reason for not naming it until later? What possible reason could they have for not identifying it when it is in the book, at the same time as the other swords.

It didn't actually. Bilbo didn't name Sting until Mirkwood. Before then, it was just an elven dagger.

But the key point is that introducing things that have no relevance to the current issues just so you can use them later is terrible story telling.

No, I don't think so. Foreshadowing is a perfectly valid, and indeed highly useful literary tool when done well. Just think of Gandalf's speech (in the book) about dealing death in judgement, and pity, and all that. The problem is that PJ rarely seems to be able to use it well...

I don't think The Hobbit was too long, I enjoyed every moment of it and could not see much to cut that would not be just as much of a loss as a gain for brevity. I remember seeing Gandhi in 1982/83 when I was 14 years old and being totally engaged in the whole story for all 191 minutes w/intermission. The length as a number in minutes or hours is meaningless, the point is does the entire run time engage your mind or not.

JoaoJatoba:
Short answer: no. Long answer: nooooooooo.

To me the length of epic movies such as LotR and The Hobbit helps to create that feeling that the world is big and events take a lot of time to happen... Middle earth is huge, and it took 2 year (I think) to get the ring from the Shire to Mt. Doom.

So the length of such movies enhances that feel of adventure and "epicness".

FYI Frodo left Bag End on September 22nd and the Ring was destroyed on March 25 the following Spring. But I mean think how far you could travel in nearly 4 months (they lost about two months in Rivendell and Lothlorien).

As for the movie, it wasn't too long... it's just that a lot of the scenes were random made up crap fabricated by Peter Jackson for Illúvatar only knows what purpose.

Seriously that white orc chasing them was just stupid crap, and who knows why he felt it was necessary to stick the trees on the edge of a cliff. Yeah, no, being up trees surrounded by wolves, fire and an army of goblins isn't EXCITING enough -_-

j-e-f-f-e-r-s:
SNIP

Pretty much agree with everything this guy said.

MetalMagpie:

Lord Hosk:
There are only 12 dwarves, Fili Kili Thorin Dwalin Ori Gloin Nori Dori Oin Bombur and Balin make for 11, Bifur Bofur are the same dwarf everyone just kept forgetting if it was a I or a O in his name and called him by both names, even Tolkin screwed this up but no one wanted to admit their mistake, Good catch Bob.

Really? I always thought the entire reason for Bilbo coming along was that there were 13 dwarves! As I remember it, they don't want to have a party of 13 because it's an unlucky number. Gandalf isn't part of their party (as he isn't going to accompany them all the way) so he doesn't get counted. Adding Bilbo to the party brings it up to a nice, safe 14.

EDIT Well, there are certainly 13 in the film. Here are pictures of them all: http://americablog.com/2012/12/the-13-hobbit-dwarves-ranked-by-hotness.html

I think you are mistaken, you just have to look at the crew photo to see the subtle trick they did to make you THINK there were 13 dwarves.

image
http://i46.tinypic.com/19wif4.jpg

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