Remember Gandalf? He’s baaack….

Stars of Peter Jackson’s The Hobbit have re-convened here in Wellington NZ for final pick-up shooting.

I took this just before the premier of the Hobbit movie in 2012.

I took this just before the premier of the Hobbit movie in 2012.

I’m undecided whether I’ll see the rest of the trilogy. I saw the first – and wasn’t impressed.

My gripes? The cast couldn’t be faulted. Wonderful, wonderful performers. But The Hobbit (novel) was a tightly constructed hero journey. Jackson’s first-part movie wasn’t. It rambled. It brought sub-plots and details that Tolkien never wrote.

It seemed to veer between epic serious – on a scale well above the novel – and Jackson-style visual slapstick, which didn’t bear much resemblance to Tolkien’s quietly intellectual jokes.

I am a huge Tolkien fan. And a huge Jackson fan. Movies don’t have to follow books – but they do have to work as a movie.

This time? Meh.

Have you seen The Hobbit – what are your thoughts?

Copyright © Matthew Wright 2013

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23 comments on “Remember Gandalf? He’s baaack….

  1. Sadly I have to agree with you. Both my husband and I thought Peter Jackson (or the film company) stretched it out – trying to make another trilogy. The size and scope of the book doesn’t warrant this.
    I loved the book – but was disappointed in the film.

    • I think it got switched from two to three movies part-way through the whole production, with all that this implies in terms of planned pacing etc. Not sure if it was a studio decision, suspect it was. But I found it such a let-down given the stunning movies Jackson produced for “The Lord Of The Rings”.

  2. Elisa Nuckle says:

    I liked The Hobbit, but I could tell it wasn’t like the book I remember reading as a kid. With that in mind, I’m not as excited for the next two movies as I was for the first, but I still plan on seeing them. I don’t know why he decided to make this into a trilogy. At MOST this should’ve been two movies. At LEAST? I think it could’ve been a single, three hour-ish movie. No one would’ve complained about the time, given the length of the LotR series.

    • Three hours for The Hobbit sounds about right. It’s not a huge book. I have a suspicion that the original Hobbit story would be possible to extract from the 9-hour final epic. A bit, anyway – Tolkien certainly didn’t describe the interior of the goblin cave as being filled with wooden lattice walkways and fire pits! :-)

      • Elisa Nuckle says:

        See, I liked how that turned out, but part of me was so disappointed and confused that I don’t even consider this Hobbit to be anything like the book. Not a good thing, in my opinion. At least when it comes to a beloved classic like this.

  3. Andy Walker says:

    I watched it just the other day and thought it was way too long and overblown. How are they going to stretch it out for another 6 hours? I was also thinking that it was really a marketing ploy to sell video games, as much of the action seemed to be computer generated and in a video game style – perfect for teenagers, but not so great for the likes of me. Sadly it does not come up to the level of the Lord of the Rings trilogy, which, while long, captures the story much better.
    In The Hobbit film there is sadly no real character development, or even anyone you really latch onto as a hero. Only the creepy Gollum had any real character. Probably won’t watch the rest when they come out.

    • I agree entirely – I can just see a 3D “platform” shoot-em-up for 8 year olds coming out of this…. It’s a pity. The original book had plenty of character development in the form of the classic hero story – Bilbo’s growth, in particular. None of it, alas, seems to have made it to the movie.

  4. stuartart says:

    Yes, I think Jackson was trying to fly on the shirt tales of the serious LOTR epic. The Hobbit, as you state, is a less serious work – but he’s set a benchmark with LOTR and an expectation amongst the fans. He’s probably stuck between the proverbial ‘rock and a hard place’.

    • I think the studio had something to do with it being 3 movies, but even 2 was a bit excessive for “The Hobbit” – I don’t know the full details, but as I understand some of the original media reports, they were originally going to script The Hobbit for a single movie and make another movie about the period between then and The Lord Of The Rings. One of the biggest issues was the way production got politicised here in NZ, very nearly torpedoing the whole thing – the fallout was still echoing as recently as six months ago.

  5. S. Thomas Summers says:

    I like the movie. It’s lighter than LOTR, appropriate for a child’s tale. It entertains (however, the esacape from the goblins is a tad much). I admit the novel is better as it better defines Bilbo, better builds his charcater. Still, I watch “The Hobbit” now and again and enjoy it as many times as I do. I never expected it to trump Tolkien’s words.

    • I didn’t either – but I expected more than was actually delivered. My wife thought it came across at times like out-takes from ‘The Lord Of The Rings’, strung together to make a movie. But it’s all individual taste, I guess, at the end of the day.

  6. It was entertaining. However, the title should read: “Based on the Hobbit”. I’m not a big fan of movie trilogies. If I’m paying $20+ to go to a theater to sees a story, I want to see the whole story. At least with LOTR, each movie covered a book. That I expect. But, when a director or studio breaks a book into two movies just to make more money (I.e. Breaking Dawn or Deathly Hallows) …I have a problem.

  7. Like you, I thought the movie was way too long and rambling. I personally think they should have eliminated all the unnecessary side plots and just made a single movie — a long one, presumably, but just one movie. I know that cuts into profit margins, but … art over profit!

    • I suspect one movie will be discoverable within the trilogy when it’s done – possible to edit down to the actual story of The Hobbit, or something close to it. I agree about the way profit becomes a driver here – part of it, I fear, is the way studios are so risk-averse these days.

  8. Yes, I saw the first installment of The Hobbit, and was equally unimpressed. I didn’t feel we got to know the characters enough to care about them. What little story there was seemed to be there to support the episodic battles. I can’t imagine two more installments of equal length. How many more fight scenes with ugly (dripping) ghouls could be that interesting?

    • ‘Thin and stretched’, methinks… :-) Yes, it was only a third of a story, really. Not good in that sense, and some of them had typical Jacksonisms – Bifur still with an axe stuck in his head, for instance, which is just silly. (I thought Bill Kircher did a great job though – he’s a very accomplished local actor, actually lives near me, my wife knew his wife slightly, and we used to run into them every so often at the video store).

  9. I love Tolkein, by the way. And loved Jackon’s Lord of the Rings trilogy. It’s just that The Hobbit isn’t Lord of the Rings and it seems like Jackson is trying to force it into being of that breadth.

    • Me too, on all counts! He’d have been better running with one of the Silmarillion tales if he wanted epic – I would LUURVE to see a Peter Jackson interpretation of the fall of Gondolin or similar.. Actually getting the rights would probably be another epic, I fear… :-)

  10. I agree. There were delightful moments, mostly centered around Bilbo, but the rest looked like ads for theme park rides. I was disappointed right down to the editing and the music (it sometimes started abruptly as if someone literally flipped the “on” switch). A lot would have to change before I’ll go out to watch the next installment.

    • It looked like a theme park ride to me too. I wouldn’t be surprised if somebody built one on that basis… Or a sim-game to the same end. (Ouch – not my cup of tea!)

      • Nor mine, and I’m jaded enough at this point to believe that the park ride was possibly on the drawing board even while the movie was under production. I’ve already seen stills from the next picture where they’re escaping in the kegs and going down a twisting, turning water course. Looks like another ride. Sad.

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