Rant of the Day: I Refuse to See The Hobbit

Bilbo

I will never willingly see Peter Jackson’s new Hobbit films. Just the mere mention of them is enough to stir my anger and finding out that not only was the first film number one at the box office in its first weekend, but also made $86 million, is plain infuriating.

When the first announcement was made that The Hobbit was going to be split into two, it seemed about par for the course for Hollywood these days – even if it is a practice I widely detest. Then when it was going to be split into three films, that’s where they lost me. One story, split across three films (and judging by the 169 minute length of the first, this will be an almost 9-hour epic). It’s ridiculous.

The actual book this “trilogy” is based on is 320 pages. That’s the meat of the story – though from my understanding, information from appendices, dropped subplots, and Tolkien’s notes have been added and adapted into the storyline to pad out the running time to make this story worthy of three films. But consider the length of the actual book. If the average length of time a person spends reading a page is a minute, you would be able to read the entire novel once, and then get half-way through it again during the time it would take to watch all three movies. Even if you argue that a person takes two minutes to read a page and point out that reading the entire novel at this speed would be the same as watching the trilogy, I would point out two things: 1) film is a different medium than books and 2) a picture is worth a thousand words – so it shouldn’t take as long to watch a movie as read a book. Hell, the entire story has been told before – in ninety minutes.

What’s the worst thing about The Hobbit being told as a trilogy? The final film is rumoured to be made up of unused footage from the first two films:

“[T]he third film will reportedly cost less since it will use some of the remaining footage that was left out of An Unexpected Journey and There and Back Again.” [Source: Geeks of Doom]

Making a person pay money to see a blatant cash grab? Shame on you. Paying money to see multiple blatant cash grabs? Then look forward to future film-splitting, and watch as the next Die Hard is told over nine movies.

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3 Responses to Rant of the Day: I Refuse to See The Hobbit

  1. Nostra says:

    A lot of people don’t know the books, so they probably won’t have that feeling towards the films. I haven’t read the books either, but will see the movies. The first one was alright, but nowhere near as good as the LotR movies.

  2. Ray says:

    If calling this a “rant” was meant to absolve yourself of having a coherent point or rational argument then why not condense this article into “I will not see the Hobbit” and leave out the padding which you are so firmly against.

    While I agree that the increasing tendency of major studios to split a single story across multiple films seems at times to be driven by a cynical eye for box office numbers rather than the good of the narrative I remain unconvinced this is true a hundred percent of the time. Film is an evolving medium and to say that splitting a story across multiple movies is an invalid form of storytelling is unfairly dismissive. Serial fiction is nothing new in print or television, why is a movie not an appropriate form to experiment with that style of storytelling?

    You make the same rushed argument with running time. You say film is a different medium than books and then spend the rest of the paragraph with the two inextricably linked. The number of pages within the source material has as much bearing on the quality of an adaptation as the color of the ink. No serious filmmaker would tell an editor that a scene needs to be less than 2 minutes because that’s how long it took to read that section in the book. Films are dynamic, they require pacing. A page of descriptive language can be reduced to four seconds of an establishing shot while a paragraph of dialog can last an entire scene based on how the actors perform it. If you want to talk about how effectively a film communicates a narrative, length comes second to story. A nine hour running time does not preclude the possibility of an amazing film any more than an hour and a half film precludes the possibility of a boring mess. “A picture is worth a thousand words” is a cliché, not a method of unit conversion.

    And while I’m sure you’ve heard some terrible rumors about the production of the Hobbit Trilogy I might recommend that you judge the merits of the series on, oh I don’t know the films themselves. It would be at the very least a more relevant read then your misinterpretations of rumors from “Geeks of Doom”.

    And for the record, I’d see a nine part Die Hard movie if it meant Bruce Willis didn’t look like a bored oversaturated corpse anymore.

    • Modest Movie says:

      Ray – thank you for your comments. You make a good point that serialized storytelling is nothing new and that I am being unfairly dismissive of it re: movies. You’re right. Splitting a single story across multiple films, with the proper material, may be an appropriate technique. However, it currently seems that this technique is not chosen for narrative purposes but simply as a cynical way of making more money. That’s what I am ranting against. As long as film-splitting appears to be done for this purpose, I refuse to support the practice with my wallet.

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