Peter Jackson can go suck a fuck. Yeah, that’s right, you heard me. I’m using Donnie Darko references over here. Jackson has become the George Lucas of Lord of the Rings. Lucas went back and filmed three shitty prequels to his revered Star Wars trilogy, and Jackson has made the exact same mistake with The Hobbit.
I’m not going to argue that The Hobbit as a film shouldn’t exist. In fact, it should. The 1937 book written by J.R.R. Tolkien is beloved by millions of people the world over. And since his later Lord of the Rings books were turned into films that became venerable smash-hits, it only makes sense that there should be a film of The Hobbit. Unforeseeable by anyone, the worst person for the job would be the same person who directed the Rings films.
Clearly, Peter Jackson caught lightning in a bottle when he directed the Rings films. He tried to recapture that magic from a decade ago, but failed miserably every step of the way. The tone of The Hobbit is vastly different from the later Rings books. It is lighter, faster-paced, and has more of a sense of wonder. Jackson, being a goddamn moron, tried to bend the material to fit into the exact same style of the Rings films. He tries to make it dark, somber, and epic all at the same time. For material that is inherently light and fun, this just doesn’t work. Scene after scene fails on almost every level. Technically, they look and sound great, but that’s about it. The writing doesn’t work, the acting is awkward, and you get a sense that nobody really knew what they hell they were doing when making this monstrosity.
Jackson has a raging boner for super long movies. The dude couldn’t even bring in a King Kong movie under three hours. So now, The Hobbit, which is the shortest of the four Tolkien books, has been turned into THREE FUCKING MOVIES! How the fuck are they expecting to turn a 300 page book into three movies that are all three hours long? The answer is: make them all really shitty.
Here’s how I imagine early planning meetings went down:
Peter Jackson: I want to make a movie of The Hobbit.
Studio Executive: Harry Potter and Twilight and The Hunger Games are all getting split into multiple movies. So you should split The Hobbit into two parts so we can make more money.
Peter Jackson: I think Tolkien wrote some shit on a napkin once. And I have a copy of his laundry list. We could film that stuff and make three movies.
Studio Executive: Brilliant idea!
Peter Jackson: And I could make all the movies three hours long so they will feel epic.
Studio Executive: You know what else would make them feel epic? Changing the Riddles in the Dark Scene from telling riddles to Bilbo and Gollum having a dance battle instead. All the kids are into dance battles these days.
Peter Jackson: I’ll do it on one condition. You let me film the movies in an unnaturally high and weird-looking framerate.
Studio Executive: Can we charge people extra for that?
Peter Jackson: Definitely.
Studio Executive: Then it’s a deal.
Saying The Hobbit Part 1 is “bloated” is kind of like saying Rush Limbaugh is a little overweight. Every fucking scene goes on endlessly. There is so much unnecessary shit, it borders on the absurd. Did we need to begin the movie with a crazy Dragon-attack scene? No. Did we need to see Old Bilbo reminiscing about his adventures, and having a chat with Frodo? No. It could have easily began with Young Bilbo meeting Gandalf. All that extra shit is just padding to make the movie longer. The dining scene with the dwarves in Bilbo’s house must run at least half an hour. It could easily have been done in 10-15 minutes. The plodding pace, and the fact that every scene is stretched out until it’s about to snap, make it hard to even sit still while watching this movie.
It gets even worse as the movie drags on. Radagast the Brown, a wizard with bird shit on his head, is an assault on everyone’s better judgment. He rides a sleigh pulled by rabbits (and yes, it’s as gay as it sounds), he fights bad guys, and he brings animals back from the dead. He does all this, even though he doesn’t even fucking show up in the book. Galadriel appears in an incredibly bland scene, and she isn’t in the book either. The Pale Orc, who I don’t recall being in the book, is a Super Villain that hounds the heroes at every turn. All these changes do nothing except lengthen the movie, and make it more “Hollywood” so it will be palatable for the retarded masses.
Every small encounter becomes an epic battle. In the book, the trolls caught Bilbo and the dwarves, and argued about how to cook them until the sun rose and they were turned to stone. In the movie that happens, too, but only after a heated battle with them. Even run-ins with goblins become epic set pieces meant to evoke the battles of the previous Rings movies. Instead of feeling epic, the movie feels tedious.
Jackson tries to make Thorin Oakenshield into the new Aragorn, by giving him a regal style, and making him the strong and silent type. When he rushes into battle with his sword raised and theme song playing, he looks like a goofball. He doesn’t evoke any sense of heroism or majesty. He’s just sort of… there. Similarly, all the dwarves blend together, each completely devoid of personality. Although, this is probably more a problem of the source material than any fault of Jackson’s.
One thing that was great about the Rings films was that the orcs were all humans in makeup. Therefore, the battles with them looked far more realistic. Anytime you can use reality in a movie, it will always trump using computer generated effects. Well, Jackson said, “FUCK THAT SHIT!” and went for as much CGI as possible. All the bad guys from trolls to goblins to orcs are fully CGI. They look all right for the most part, as long as they aren’t walking, running, fighting, talking, or doing anything that involves motion.
The soundtrack is disappointing. It wasn’t bad by any means, but the Rings soundtrack was fucking brilliant. The Hobbit soundtrack just pales in comparison. That Misty Mountains theme is woven throughout, but it isn’t rousing like the main theme from the Rings movies. Again, they tried to keep it close to what worked before, but in doing so it was not differentiated enough to make it unique or good.
The Hobbit was in Development Hell for a long time. Jackson originally didn’t want to direct, probably because he realized he couldn’t do the material justice. Unfortunately, Guillermo del Toro dropped out as director after a million production delays. With its vastly different tone, The Hobbit needed to have a different director. It did not need a megalomaniac at the helm who thinks every movie needs to be three hours long. And since Jackson had already added so much unnecessary shit, would it have killed him to include the Troll Toll song from It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia?
“You gotta pay the Troll Toll if you wanna get into that boy’s hole, you gotta pay the Troll Toll to get in.”
The overarching problem with The Hobbit Part 1 is one of “too much of a good thing.” Being the greedy bastards that they are, Jackson and the studio stretched a fairly short book into three massive films. In order to accomplish this, each scene suffers from being far too long and stuffed with every minor detail that Tolkien had ever mentioned. The pacing kills the film, but so does Jackson’s insistence that this movie fall exactly in line with how his previous Rings films looked and felt. Jackson completely fucked up, and it is all too apparent when watching this bloated carcass of what could have been a great movie.