Shortly before the new year, and just before the third installment of the Hobbit was released in theatres, a good friend of mine wrote a hilariously scathing review of this unorthodox trilogy (including the third film, which he still, so far as I know, has not seen). I went to see the film two days after opening, and enjoyed parts and was disappointed with other parts, and I have to say, my good friend Bulldog is surprisingly accurate regarding the sequence of events…but is it all that surprising? I decided to hold this off until the new year so that people could get out to see it first, before they got to read this and realize that they likely didn’t need to see the film at all…they just needed to read this review.
When I was a little boy the Hobbit was fantastic, I loved it. Who wouldn’t? Dragons, wars, adventure, little people doing big things. It was epic. Now I also loved Lord of the Rings, not the books because who has time to read all three of them but the movies. Peter Jackson took three books and created a masterpiece. I remember feeling a bit sad that he didn’t make the Hobbit first; the book was great and so was the animated movie. Then I heard the Hobbit was going to be made! I was so excited I couldn’t wait. Dragons and… wait… what is this feeling in my brain… what is this darkness that is covering my joy? This dark side of feelings that I have… It kind of feels like a prequel doesn’t it… oh no… please don’t… no it will be fine I know it will, just put those feelings deep inside. So they shot the Hobbit and they are going to release it in two films. Huh, that’s a lot of film for a 300 odd page book. Oh wait 3 movies? Ok that is like a minute per page for an hour movie? What is going on… oh well here we go the first movie is out and lets see what happens…
One long, 3D, eye splitting, brain melting experience later…
Oh dear God it is the Star Wars problem all over again. Ok here it is; this is how you fix this God-awful series. And note this is written before Battle of the five… I haven’t even seen the last movie yet and I am going to go out on a limb and guess what is going to happen.
1. Get rid of the stupid intro. When The Hobbit began it had Bilbo sitting in the Hobbit hole old and tired getting out a book and a pen and talking to Frodo, thus making the next three films a fucking flashback. This is the worst idea ever. By doing this the tone of the next three movies is set making everything after bumbling Bilbo a memory. Nothing that happens after this has any weight, nothing. When he fights the Trolls for example. Was I scared? Nope. Why? Because it’s a flashback, I know that he is going to get out of it fine, not because I read the book but because this is a story told in flash back. This problem can be seen in the second movie as well and no doubt into the third. The emotional bearing of Smaug’s fight evaporates because Bilbo tells it in the future! And no doubt the third film is going to be an over stimulated piece but I will get to that later. How do we fix this problem? How about starting the Hobbit like it begins in the fucking book? Have a young normal Bilbo wake up, make breakfast, tend to his lovely garden, say hello to his neighbors and smoke his pipe. A normal day for a normal Hobbit when suddenly an old man shows up and fucks his day up by inviting a bunch of dwarfs to his house and then the adventure begins. By doing this we live the adventure with Bilbo and the party. Then the events have more mystery and suspense.
2. Shoehorning in all the other bullshit. In the Hobbit, fourteen souls go looking for treasure. That should have been enough. I know that one needs to flush out three movies. But was that needed? The stuff with Radagast seems moot, and shoved in there to fill time. The thing that was so good with the LOTR movies was that there was very little in wasted space, it was tight and needed. If Jackson wanted this stuff in the Hobbit maybe he should have done a directors cut. Also if you keep the shitty intro into account, a lot of the filler scenes don’t make any sense! How does Bilbo know what is going on? Did Gandalf tell him? How does he know that this is happening with the elves? What’s going on? Also about Tauriel, I am all for putting a woman into these films, there is room for it (three fucking movies for one book!!!) but why the hell do you have to cram in a love story?!? It reminds me of the Star Wars Prequels: Anakin and Padme sit awkwardly on a couch and spout dribble. If you need her to be in this movie how about making her go against the orders of Thranduil because she understands that a Dwarven king is easier to deal with than a dragon and thus her helping the dwarves becomes more about the greater good than a stupid love triangle between Kili and Legolas. Just sayin…
3. Fire doesn’t work like that, nor does gravity. There are so many problems with physics in these movies. The three big ones that make my suspension bridge of disbelief fray like Indiana Jones is hacking away with a machete. 1. The Goblin kingdom bridge scene. If that were to happen in real life everyone on that rickety wooden bridge would be dead. If Captain Kirk dies because of that you do too. 2. The barrel scene. The flips dips and splashes of the barrel ride would result in a bunch of drowned dwarves. 3. The dragon fire that is no match for pillars of protection +2. Again all terror and suspense is gone because once again Bilbo is safe and sound writing his memoirs.
Here are my predictions for ‘Battle Of The Five Armies’. After the cliffhanging ending that the second movie left us with, the events of the third film will be as follows give or take a minute or two: Smaug gets killed in the first 25 minutes. Gandalf gets out of his predicament I would say shortly after that. Really, this is what is going to be happening; all 5 or 6 plotlines are all going to connect. I know this is going to be happening. God damn it, when they do this it is going to be hell. Just letting you know, this is not Game of Thrones! This is a small 2-hour movie! Not a full season of tv, so everything is going to be smushed together to get all the flumpy bullshit in. That and a battle is going to go down, but like the ending of Star Wars, how long can a fight go before it gets ridiculous? By the end of this upcoming film I am sure all will have battle fatigue. It is going to be over blown and a screen full of action, yes but really where is the emotional connection with the characters? Yes, we have gotten something from the pack of Dwarves but now 5 armies killing each other? As the Bard (and not the one in the Hobbit) once said “Brevity is the soul of wit.” The medium of film may choke the story of the Hobbit. That is a sad thing. Giant fights and war covered in a chapter spread out over an entire film may lose the punch.
All in all I feel this is the problem of the prequels. Like Star Wars, the real world seeped into the mythos. The story has been shat all over by the fan boys and in doing so the story that needed to be told is buried in the mess. What can be done? Nothing now, but I still feel the need to rant and rave a bit to get the rage out. I also hope that someone somewhere may look around at a great tale and say should we look into the beginning of these peoples lives, maybe we should make a movie…. No, no you should not. If the Hobbit was done well, 3 movies would not be needed. Two, tops. If anything this is going to be an over bloated visually crammed pile of the same old same old. I guess that is where films are going but sadly the epic feelings of them are gone. I am not even talking about CGI vs Practical effects, LOTR blew my mind, made all of us go “Wow look at that!!” The Hobbit does that too but it is more of a disappointing tone. Like “Oh wow after LOTR why does this look like shit?” Ah well I am sure people will go in droves to see this and it will no doubt make billions and billions of dollars, but transformers did too, doesn’t mean it is a good thing.
Brendan “Bulldog” Eckstrom.