If movies get much longer, we are seriously going to need to go back to those old days of intermissions. The Hobbit did not quite clock in at 200 minutes like The Return of the King did, but at 170 minutes it’s still a test of both bladder and attention span. And while most movie adaptations of books end up cutting a lot of stuff out, the decision to divide up Tolkien’s least complicated, most accessible, and (I think) shortest work into not one but three movies, seems to have been accomplished by the craziness of actually stuffing in far more crap than the book presents.
Return of the King is infamous for what seemed to be a neverending denoument… every time the credits should have started rolling, there was another scene, sometimes even accompanied by a fade-to-black that started feeling like Jackson was fucking with us after awhile. For God’s sake, man, you’ve held us here for three hours, let us go! We’re good, we don’t need to see every little loose end tied up. Save the White Ships for the Director’s Cut, if at all. It was a textbook study in a failure of Ars Terminus. We didn’t just get the ending, we got Second Ending. And Elevensies. And I, for one, left the theater feeling rather bloated.
Jackson didn’t give The Hobbit multiple endings. Instead, he decided to give it multiple climaxes, and proved beyond a shadow of a doubt that the only time that’s a good thing is when there’s a woman and some stimulation of naughty bits involved. Sure, I suppose there’s a similar feeling of exhaustion once it’s done, but in this without any accompanying afterglow.
I think my father put it best during a discussion we had about the movie last Sunday: about the third or fourth time someone was shouting, “Rrrrrrrrrun!!!”, he had stopped caring.
And it didn’t need to be that way. An entirely fabricated villain was shoved in, even though there were a couple of perfectly good antagonists already present. The confrontation with said villain, which I guess I’m dancing around since people might cry Spoilers! at me, feels really unnecessary to squeeze into an already full to bursting end sequence. So… they’ve stretched The Hobbit out into three feature length films, and then in the very first of the trilogy it’s managed to already become a trainwreck of pacing. It doesn’t just feel long, it feels padded, and then because of all the padding it runs out of time trying to squeeze everything in that it feels is important. How does that even happen in a major undertaking like this? It’s like we’re looking at what the first draft of The Hobbit book might have been, before Tolkien and/or his editor wisely started making cuts.
This is not a good sign. If the trend continues in part 2 and part 3, only a hobbit is going to have the appetite to digest such an overstuffed mess. I, alas, am merely human.