Keeping in mind that adapting The Hobbit is probably one of the tougher screenplay jobs this side of the slugline, how did Jackson and his co-writers fare?

Genre: Adventure
Premise: Bilbo Baggins reluctantly joins a band of dwarves who go on a quest to reclaim their kingdom, which has since been taken over by a dragon.
About: After lots of legal battles and one giant director fallout, the first of three Hobbit films finally comes to the big screen. The talk about these films seems to be Peter Jackson’s pioneering use of 48 frames per second as opposed to the traditional 24. This new frame-rate is supposed to make the movie a lot more enjoyable in 3-D. We’ll see about that.
Writers: Fran Walsh & Philippa Boyens & Peter Jackson & Guillermo del Toro (based on the novel by J.R.R. Tolkien)

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey … one embargo to bind them.

I’ve been to the Shire. I saw Ryan Gosling there and he said he didn’t want me to review his script today. So I decided to review the Hobbitses instead.

Before I get into the writing side of this movie, I first have to address the 48 frames per second phenomenon. Now maybe I’m wrong and in 10 years every movie will be in 48 fps and we’ll look back at this 24 frames stuff as ancient history, the way my generation looked at Black and White films. And the way that generation looked back at films without sound. But I don’t know. I understand we’ve been conditioned on this frame rate for over a hundred years, and we’ve been led to believe that anything 30 frames per second or higher looks like home video, but that’s what this looked like to me. It looked like home video.

No, you know what it looked like? It looked like those History Channel reenactments, but with like 100 times the production value. I mean for the first half of the movie, I couldn’t stop thinking about it. All I kept saying was, “This looks so cheap.” Not only because it looked like video but because it was so smooth and crisp you could see the make-up on the actors. You could see all the imperfections. Now I did start to get used to it as the movie went on, but I’d be surprised if James Cameron decided to shoot Avatar this way after seeing the footage (as he’d been hinting at).

But what about the actual movie!!? Well, I always had a problem with going back and doing a Hobbit trilogy as it seemed like a pared down version of the Lord Of The Rings. If the world were made of truthful marketing campaigns, this one would read, “Everything you got before, but smaller.” And that’s what this felt like. There wasn’t that grand scale that dominated the earlier (later) films. This felt more intimate. At times that was good but since this is a spectacle movie, it was mostly bad. Wanna know what the film was about?

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Okay, I’ll tell you, but not in Middle Earth-speak. That would take me an extra two hours of name-checking in the Hobbit encyclopedia. I’m going to tell you in layman’s terms. Basically, these dwarves lose their kingdom to this really evil dragon who wants it because there’s a lot of gold stored there. I’ll admit, I was confused right off the bat on this one. Why would a dragon need gold? What can a dragon possibly use gold for? He can’t make gold dragon clothes. He doesn’t need it to buy anything. His currency is breathing fire on people. But whatever. Point is, all the dwarves got kicked out of their home.

Many years later we meet Bilbo Baggins, a hobbit, who’s minding his business when Gandalf and a bunch of dwarves show up telling him he has to go on a mission with them, a mission to get their castle back. This confused me as well because I couldn’t understand why they needed a hobbit to help them. From what I understood, Bilbo was scared, inexperienced, didn’t want to go, and didn’t bring anything advantageous to the table other than it’s harder for dragons to smell hobbits. Maybe this is explained in the books or the sequels somewhere, but at least in this story, I couldn’t understand why Bilbo was even part of this adventure. Even Obi-Wan says to Luke, “I’m getting too old for this.” So it made sense why Luke needed to come on that journey.

Anyway, off they go to take on that bad dragon with an irrational gold fetish. However, mid-way through, we begin to realize that them taking on the dragon ain’t going to happen in this movie. Nope. We’re going to have to wait til the third film for that one. Which leaves us feeling empty. Luckily, Jackson helps us forget this with a wagon-full of orc attacks! Orcs and trolls. Every 20 minutes or so, some orcs would find them and we’d get a big set-piece. These set-pieces ranged from cool to really cool, but never quite awesome (however running across bridges in the underground orc lair got close).

Our good buddy Golum does make an appearance in the film with his and Bilbo’s “Battle of Riddles (?)” and it’s the one thing I remembered from the book as a kid so I was excited to see it play out on the big screen. I was disappointed. The rules of this riddle game seemed vague, and it appeared that you could ask the most nonsensical question ever and it would be considered “fair.” “Trust and trout and beetles and stout. Seven tigers drink six cups of milk. What’s the answer?” Errr, what? More concerning was the way Bilbo won. “What’s in my pocket?” That’s the question he won with? You can just ask a question that there’s no way for someone to know the answer to? “How many centipedes live underneath the big rock in my garden back home?” I don’t know! I wanted to feel like Bilbo cleverly outwitted Golum. Instead, I’m left wondering what the hell the rules were to that funky game.

Eventually, Bilbo escapes Golum and the dwarves escape more Orcs and they all get away. But then they have to fight one last battle against the King Orc, who our Prince Dwarf supposedly killed many years ago, but who has come back for revenge. Oh, and then there’s a guy who rides around on a sled pulled by rabbits.

To “The Hobbit’s” credit, we do have a clear story here. We have our goal (Get to and reclaim the Dwarf Kingdom), we have our stakes (the dwarves will be without a home until they get their kingdom back), and we have our urgency (they’re constantly being chased by orcs). Despite all that, The Hobbit takes its time in too many places. Jackson knows he’s got you stuck there in the theater and boy does he take advantage of it, giving you a twenty minute opening scene in Bilbo’s house, and a 15 minute exposition-laden scene at the Elf kingdom. There are a lot of talking scenes in this script and that almost dooms it.

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Luckily, Jackson (and Tolkien obviously) throw tons of obstacles at our heroes to keep the entertainment level high. Just when the story’s about to run out of gas, orcs show up, or trolls show up, or giant raving mad rock monsters show up, or Bilbo falls into the dark crevices of a cave with no way out. Remember, as long as you give your characters a goal, you can place tons of obstacles in front of that goal. And as long as we care about them achieving their goal, we’ll be entertained by them trying to overcome those obstacles. Jackson adds several nice touches where we see how important getting their home back is for the dwarves. So we’re entertained by the obstacles that get in their way.

Character-wise, Bilbo, our main character, is a tough call.  He’s very passive for most of the screenplay, and for that reason he’s one of the least interesting characters in the bunch. There’s an old saying that your main character should be the most interesting person in the movie. I don’t know if that’s always possible because a lot of times the hero has to play the straight man, but it would’ve been nice if Bilbo was a LITTLE more interesting.

With that said, he did have a flaw, and therefore an arc. And it’s one of the better flaws you can give a character, since it’s so identifiable. Bilbo lives a safe life. He doesn’t take any chances. He’d rather stay holed up in a tiny hobbit shack than deal with the dangers of the outside world. This journey is about him learning to step out of his safety bubble and do something different and new and scary. Haven’t we all felt that way at one point or another in our lives? Always add a flaw to your hero if you can, guys. It’ll provide your story with a more dynamic, and therefore more interesting, character.

One thing that KILLS this movie for me, though, is the trilogy format. This tale is lighter than Lord Of The Rings as it is. And now you’re telling me that the goal your characters are after isn’t even going to be pulled off in this film? Not only is that a big tease, but it throws the entire rhythm of the script off. In a story, the whole point is to build to the climax, the thing you’ve been telling us is our heroes’ objective. If there’s no objective, there’s no climax, and that’s exactly how the Hobbit felt. I didn’t know where we were going after awhile or what the ultimate point of THIS MOVIE (not the entire trilogy) was. I don’t think any script should end with the reader saying, “Oh, that’s it?” And that’s how this one ended. I honestly wouldn’t have been surprised if The Hobbit had gone on for another 30 minutes, and that’s sloppy storytelling as far as I’m concerned. The audience wants the payoff. We got it a bit with the King Orc showdown, but that felt like the appetizer to the big meal, a meal we won’t be eating for another two years.

I don’t know where I come down on this one. It held my attention, but sometimes for the wrong reasons. I just couldn’t comprehend why they’d put something onscreen that looked like it had been shot on a Best Buy video camera. However, I suppose the script had just enough thrust to keep my attention til the end. For that, I guess it’s worth a matinee ticket.

[ ] Run for your life
[ ] Wait for video
[x] worth the price of admission
[ ] impressive
[ ] genius

What I learned: How much time is too much time to build up your characters in a screenplay? Peter Jackson takes his sweet time in this area, giving us 30-some minutes with our hobbits and dwarves before they get on the road. This can work if a lot’s happening (we don’t get on the road til the 30 minute mark in Star Wars, for example, but a TON of stuff happens before that – evil villains chasing, forgotten hermits reemerging, droids running away, aunt and uncle killed), but if you just have people sitting around at tables talking, the script is going to drag. I see this sometimes with established writer-directors. They know they don’t have to keep a reader’s interest. They already have you in the theater. So they take forever to get going. I think established or not, all writers should try and keep the story moving. Don’t waste a line of screenplay space if you don’t have to, especially in the opening, when it’s imperative you hook your audience. The Hobbit could’ve moved a lot faster.

  • J.R. Kinnard

    I hate to be THAT guy, but my recollection of the novel is that Bilbo was asking HIMSELF the question, “What is in my pocket?” and Gollum mistakenly believed that was the actual question. Bilbo went with it when he realized Gollum had no chance of answering correctly. I may be wrong.

    The criticism I keep hearing from folks (and now you, Carson) is what I feared the most: This movie seems padded and thin. There just isn’t enough material here.

    I might have to skip this one.

    • carsonreeves1

      Some definite padding, but the frustrating part is it wouldn’t feel that way if Jackson knew how to cut stuff out. He’s had this problem for awhile. Did King Kong need to be 3 hours? No way.

      • J.R. Kinnard

        So true. A victim of his own success, perhaps?

        • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1447159138 Tim Miller

          I don’t think that was true of King Kong, I think his goal there was to be as faithful as possible to Cooper’s original, which had been one of Jackson’s favorite films since childhood. But here, yes. Remember that when this project was first announced, “The Hobbit,” was going to be ONE movie. Then pre-production started, and they were like, “oh, no, sorry, it’s going to be TWO movies.” Then there was the whole New Zealand labor dispute, and suddenly it was like: “Sorry, sorry, we meant, it’s going to be THREE movies.” Most people I talk to don’t even KNOW that. They’re all like: “Wait, what? The movie that’s out now is only a THIRD of the book? WTF?” The whole thing smells to me like Warner Bros. and Jackson trying to milk the Tolkien teat for all it’s worth, stretching the story out because more movies means more money.

      • Poe_Serling

        ‘Did King Kong need to be 3 hours?’

        Funny that you bring that up… I always jump ahead to when Karl and his crew arrive at Skull Island.

  • Garrett Amerson

    While those are valid points, I think this movie (franchise) is really more for those who know the books. I say this because based on this film being broken into 3 parts, he HAS to find way more material to add to even each film out. Now this is where being a fan and advocate of the book comes in. We get more of the book in this film, the same as we got more of the book in the LOTR extended editions. They could have easily made this film into 2, but you know how studio execs think. More $$!
    Since I recently read the book, I can tell you that they did so much more than if they just shot the book page by page. The writer’s skillfully added scenes that greatly kept the momentum of the film when in the book, it was slow (but books CAN do this, while scripts really cant). Including adding a character and brilliantly weaving this theme of darkness; which leads perfectly into what will eventually be “The Fellowship of the Ring”. These elements were either completely missing in the book, or weren’t the focus. I feel they tried to stay true to the events of the book, but still adding their own touches to balance it out.
    Now of course I know you can’t judge a script or movie solely on what the book is, fair enough. But to see what someone with lesser skill and knowledge of the book would’ve done, and what these guys were able to do with this material, is really quite amazing.

    • LemuelG

      I would say that this movie is probably the best film that could have been made while staying somewhat true to the book. However, this requires the assumption that The Hobbit SHOULD be made into a film (or rather several films). I believe most of the criticism Carson states refers to the book and not to the film.

      Meanwhile, I, for one, loved the 48 fps. While it took some getting used to, particularly in the beginning, even the slow parts of the film did not feel boring to me because I was busy marvelling at the clarity of the picture and all the details sharply visible. As a matter of fact, I would love future 3D movies to all convert to 48 fps. My girlfriend, who greatly dislikes 3D, actually forgot she was wearing 3D glasses. No more blurry backgrounds, no more headaches … this is actually great!

  • tom8883

    Are you doing How To Catch A Monster tomorrow? I hope so!

    • carsonreeves1

      if you wanna share your feelings on Monster, you should probably share them here. It doesn’t look like the Goss’s script is going to get a SS review. :(

  • Poe_Serling

    A review of The Hobbit?!… I was all set to discuss the dreamy qualities of Ryan
    Gosling. Life’s not fair. :-(

  • Malibo Jackk

    Who would have guessed that The Hobbit would be on its way to out gross Lincoln?

    Can’t help but wonder what the movies would be like if Spielberg directed The Hobbit.
    And Jackson directed Lincoln.

  • ElliotMaguire

    This sums up everything I feared about this thing. Can’t talk about the format until I see it, but I just don’t see how you can justify making three near 160 min movies from 1 average-sized book. Jackson needs to go away for a while and come back with a good low-budget 90 min gorefest horror, get back to his roots, and find his edit button.

  • BrandonMac

    I just don’t know a out these kind of reviews Carson. I mean are you reviewing the movie itself? Are you reviewing the script version you read? Or is a combination of both? It comes across as you watches the film and are doing your critique from there. As to the riddle: it was pretty clear that Bilbo was asking himself the question and Gollum interpreted it as for him. And seeing as Gollum was going to cheat regardless it doesn’t really matter whether it was fair or not.

    I’m baffled by your take on some of these points. The beginning takes too long to get started? If you check, PJ spent just as much time in the Shire setting up Fellowship as he did in this film. You complain about the time spent in debate in Rivendell talking, yet it was again almost equal to the time spent there in Fellowship. If you must critique it I would rather you lament Jackson’s slavish adherence to the template he already laid down with LOTR. After all, this is what got Lucas into so many problems by adhering his new trilogy to the format of the old, very often to its detriment.

    These Ryle of reviews confuse me more than anything as you pose questions of confusion over things that have already been answered within the movie itself. Why did they need Bilbo? Well they said they needed a burglar? Why do they think Bilbo is one? Pretty sure that was the entire point of Gandalf carving that mark on his door in the first place? Why do they take him? Galdalf is vouching for him. Why does the dragon want take over the dwarf kingdom? He covets gold? Why? Because greed is in the hearts if dragons. All these things were spelled out pretty clearly within the movie itself. One needn’t have read the books to have to figure any of that out.

    While I wholeheartedly agree some things needed to be cut (one of the early musical numbers anyone?) the movie was largely a success, other than its familiar formulaic approach which could have been shaken up a bit. Te biggest issue was the 48fps, which made it look more like I was watching a giant television rather than a movie, and reduced the cutting edge special effects to a syfy channel movie experience because they’re were rendered so clear they were unable to blend in with the non cgi elements. I’m keeping my fingers crossed that Cameron doesn’t go through with his promise (or threat) to shoot Avatar 2&3 in 72fps.

    • Brandonmac

      My apologies for the spelling mistakes. Autocorrect on iPad is a bitch

  • http://www.facebook.com/elevationrecordings Darran Nugent

    Damn I was really dying to see what you thought of Gosling’s Monster. Splitting the Hobbit into three movies is a gamble that just might not pay off. They should have made the Silmarillion instead but maybe that’s unfilmable.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1462007233 Avishai Weinberger

    You are far more forgiving of this script than I am.

    One of my main problems was that I didn’t care about the goal. Yes, it’s their home and they want it back, but we’re told their home’s been lost for decades. So why is it imperative to try to get it back now, specifically? Where’s the urgency there? What’s at stake if they decide to go on the trip, say, in ten years? Why does Gandalf care?

    I also don’t think Bilbo’s flaw worked, because he essentially overcame it in the first reel when he goes on the mission. He has an eleventh-hour change of heart well before the eleventh hour. (Not that I want a last second change. But I didn’t see any ground left for him to cover.) And I wasn’t entirely sure why he changed his mind. These guys wrecked his home and then tried to guilt trip him into joining their mission. Why does he care about their gold? He doesn’t say until the end.

    The villain didn’t work for me… at all. His conflict with the dwarves had no purpose other than to add a villain and provide a climax. He was one note, and essentially interchangeable with any kind of baddie. Sure, he had that personal conflict with that one dwarf, but that wasn’t really worked on. It was just kind of there.

    Throw on top of that the excessive exposition scenes, the plot lines that go nowhere (what was up with the Necromancer?), the lack of a conclusion of any kind, the deus ex machinas at every turn (Gandalf is their get-out-of-jail-free card) and then all the complaints you mentioned above… I just don’t think this worked as its own story. It felt like 1/3 of a story, with filler added not to make it feel whole, but to make it long.

    That said. I really liked the Gollum scene. Yes, the riddle rules were vague, but there was genuinely something at stake here. If Bilbo fails, he dies. If he wins, he gets to find his way out of here. There was conflict. There was structure (it was essentially divided into three parts- the introduction, the riddles, the battle over the ring). And let’s be honest… who doesn’t love Gollum? He could have a scene where he picks flowers and I’d enjoy it.

    Anyway. It’s worth the watch. But not for the script.

  • CKirich

    I’m off to see it today, hate crowds and people talking, so I wait until mid-week, noon showing with 20 people in the theater. BUT I looked through some of the comments on story, not your post Carson. To understand how the Hobbit becomes 3 movies, you have to read “The Silmarillion”. Much of the tales and characters are taken from it, in fact I think the first movie ends around page 20 or so. But I’ll get into that after I see how bad this 45 fps is… Since it’s going to be here, like it or not. I’m a Tolkien geek BTW, used to speak some elvish back in the day ;)

  • job_amundsen

    I think that the film is geared towards the more hard-core fantasy audience in a way what the LOTR-trilogy wasn’t.

    First of all The Hobbit is a rather short novel (~280 pages) but you have to take into consideration that Jackson is not basing the film on just that book. They have used a TON of lore from the LOTR-universe using really exciting bits and parts from Tolkiens notes, letters and other works.

    Secondly I think that the ‘The Hobbit’ has some rather strange ways of telling a story, especially from the perspective of modern day 3 act structure-film making.

    Some stuff is almost unbearable (at least to me) for the contemporary movie goer. Take Gandalfs constant rescuing of the dwarfs. He shows up like a deus ex machina three(!!) times (trolls, underground goblins and summoning the eagles) to save the day. If the book had been written today it just wouldn’t work.

    What you have to remember is that Tolkien wrote this in 1937 and he didn’t have anything to compare with. Tolkien more or less invented the (high) fantasy genre and I think he did a pretty good job.

    Since the book is semi-sacred to so many people Jackson can’t change to much and considering that he did an excellent job. I don’t think anyone else could have stayed so true to the books and still pull this off.

    And some stuff in the film is just weird to non-fantasy lovers and perfectly normal to me. Dragons loving gold? Of course they love gold! That’s what they do! Why does a cat love cat nip? He can’t eat it, he can’t sell it….or can he? Du-du-duuuuuuu.

    Some of these “weird” aspects of the film has become such an integral part of common fantasy lore that people like me don’t even have to think twice about why, for example, the dragon loves gold.

    If Jackson would have (over) explained it, he might have soft cushioned the story for the average movie goer but I think it was brave of him not to.

    In the end the book was written for kids and has a much lighter tone compared to LOTR. The film is pretty much for kids (and fantasy nerds) and I think it has to be judged as such.

    And lastly, a question.

    Why is it so hard to make a (high) fantasy story come to life on the big screen? I mean besides the LOTR-trilogy (and imho The Hobbit) what else is there? Of course Star Wars (which is fantasy not sci-fi). Maybe Harry Potter, but it’s not really high fantasy (it’s more of a world-inside-our-world not world-existing-on-it’s-own.)

    Krull? Legend? Ladyhawk? Willow? Clash of the Titans? Jason and the argonauts? The Thief of Bagdad?

    Even when mixing in some swords and sandals film it’s impossible to get excited in the same way that I got when watching The Hobbit.

    I think part of the answer could be the long first act setup, before the adventure begins. It was long in Star Wars and it was long in Fellowship of the Ring. Why? Because we have to believe the world that the film is taking place in and that takes time. But arguing with a script doctor or producer, who doesn’t really understand the genre, that the film has to set up the world for at least 20-30 minutes before the actual story begins is almost impossible.

    And that might be the reason why almost every single contemporary “fantasy” film is bordering on terrible (The Wizards Apprentice…).

    PS. I’m sorry for any stupid grammar/language mistakes I might have done. I’m from Sweden.

    • ThomasBrownen

      “What you have to remember is that Tolkien wrote this in 1937 and he
      didn’t have anything to compare with. Tolkien more or less invented the
      (high) fantasy genre . . . .”

      I don’t think Tolkien saw himself inventing a new genre, but instead saw himself reviving the epic storytelling traditions of old (that he studied and taught). The Hobbit is heavily influenced by Beowulf, especially with the dragon, the thief, and battles, if I remember correctly. Tolkien developed his world more in Lord of the Rings, but even that was still heavily influenced by Western literary works (I’ve always thought there was a strong dose of Macbeth with Eowyn’s “I am no man” reveal and also the ents.)

      And this isn’t accidental, of course. Tolkien was single-handedly responsible for giving academic respect to works such as Beowulf and he revived them in popular culture through his own writings. If you’re curious, there’s an essay/lecture by Tolkien about Beowulf that’s about his views on these issues, and it’s well worth reading, if only to be envious of those who were able to have him as a professor. It’s called Beowulf: The Monsters and the Critics, and I remember really liking it when I read it.

      • Guest

        You are absolutely right, I can’t imagine that Tolkien saw himself inventing the genre and Tolkiens academic background (he was a university proffesor, right?

      • job_amundsen

        Thank you Poe!

        Yeah, you are absolutely right Thomas. I can’t imagine Tolkien believed he was inventing something but rather, as you say, reviving a storytelling tradition.

        However, where the epic sagas of old did not really need to be edited down to a manageable length (like a novel), Tolkien had to find a way to make the stories more accessible to a contemporary reader. So I think that’s what I’m referring to with the “(…) didn’t have anything to compare [it] with”.

        There is of course another difference between, for example, Beowulf and a high fantasy work like The Hobbit. The Hobbit is a work of fiction. Tolkien knew it and all his readers knew it. This is what makes it a new literary genre (even though a book like “The Worm Ouroboros” came out before “The Hobbit”), and not a simple continuation of the saga tradition.

        Beowulf on the other hand is more of a legend, mixing real historical events with fiction. Sure, it was written for entertainment but I think it differentiates from Tolkiens work in this way.

        I will definitely try to get my hands on that essay, it seems very interesting! Tolkiens importance for the fantasy genre, I guess, will be even more impossible to deny after that. Thanks!

        I also think it’s remarkable that much of the Beowulf saga takes place in Scandinavia (I’m from Sweden) but almost no one here has read it (or even know what it is).

        • ThomasBrownen

          I think it’s so cool that we have someone with a Swedish perspective on this issue here!

    • Poe_Serling

      Hey Job-

      Great post. Informative and well put.

      • Ambrose*

        Poe,
        Did you hear that Bryan Singer is reportedly bringing back another incarnation of ‘The Twilight Zone’?
        Nothing will ever approach the quality, or the impact, of the original, of course.
        It will be interesting to see if this new version ever actually sees the light of day and, if so, if it finds an audience today with so many choices for viewers.
        According to Deadline’s article it will probably end up on CBS, the original’s home, but it might be better suited for the Syfy channel.

        • Poe_Serling

          Hey Ambrose-

          I really appreciate the heads up regarding TZ and its latest incarnation. I nearly jumped my Kanamit bobblehead on the floor as I dashed over to read the Deadline article. ;-)

          You’re right.. we’ll have to wait and see how it all plays out. Can’t really say I’m a huge Bryan Singer fan, but I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt.

          A short time back, I know Matt ‘Cloverfield’ Reeves was working on a big screen version of TZ for Leo D’s Appain Way production company.

        • Malibo Jackk

          Serling was always talking about how he was limited by budget.
          Sometimes he would blow the budget on an episode and then have to skimp on the next five. Amazing that CBS would treat a successful series with such a strict budget.

          Would love to write an episode for the new show.
          But I already know the budget won’t be there.

        • Guess Who

          They can never seem to get it right… All the reboots have been almost unwatchable.

    • uryryuiwo

      Tolkein did not invent high fantasy. He simply followed in the footsteps of Lord Dunsanay, William Morris, George MacDonald, etc. The King of Elfland’s Daughter, written by Lord Dunsanay in 1924, was a particularly strong influence on Tolkein.

  • http://twitter.com/kinnygraham Graham

    Why do Dragons covet gold and hoard it ?

    Simple answer is also a question: Why do dogs lick their balls?

    More complicated answer is that this is a recurring theme in Tolkien’s works; lust for the material (wealth, power, possessions) is essentially a corrupting and malign influence on our more ‘spiritual’ selves.

    The Silmarillion (the ‘foundation’ text for Middle Earth), The Lord of the Rings and yes, even the ‘simple’ old Hobbit are all replete with examples of this (the lust for the Silmaril jewels leads to bloodshed, wars and tragedy; Gollum is consumed by lust for the Ring, not for what it can do for him, but for the thing itself – which would have eventually been Boromir’s fate; ditto for Smaug, and for the dwarf king – which is clearly evident in the opening sequence for the film. And as the story unfolds you will likely – unless Jackson drops the ball completely and completely jettisons the narrative – see this Theme further developed with characters like Thorin and others when they reach the Lonely Mountain.

    Smaug is the embodiment of that lust for the material; Bilbo – for those who know the story and despite his initial craving for home comforts – will be the counterweight. OK you say – that is not in this first movie; but referring back to our ‘dwarf king’ we can already see it in play. His obsession with gold corrupts him; he spends his waking hours just being surrounded by it – and his fate is to lose everything to a creature that does exactly the same thing. He loses all to the worst aspect of himself. And that’s all in the first 10 minutes :)

    Not that I intend to argue that the film is perfect, far from it – but I do find it interesting that a lot of its additional length comes from injecting a few ‘Carsonisms’ into the narrative – the ‘pale orc’ urges the action along and gives us a villain with a face until we get to Smaug, but he also requires a backstory to establish his emnity….

    Where Jackson WAS overindulgent I think, was with the likes of Radagast – who could probably have been saved for Mirkwood (if necessary at all) and with stuff like the Stone Giants (he has this obsession with collapsing rocks smashing together I can’t quite fathom),,,

    I’d also maybe just have started with the ‘Unexpected Party’ and left the back-story re Smaug etc be introduced gradually throughout; for me the issue is less with the length of those particular scenes more the sequence in which they are shown.

    So overall I did enjoy this quite a bit – but I will admit to still being wary about how much filler there will be in the next two. I suspect that quite a bit of the ‘fat’ from this could have been saved from the later films.

  • http://twitter.com/LisaAldin Lisa Aldin

    I really enjoyed the movie. When I had to pee (your welcome for that info) in the middle of it, I felt kind of strange being out of that world for a second. I wanted to hurry up and get back. That said, I was not aware at the time that they were splitting this into three films. I was seriously expecting dragon and I kept thinking: How long is this movie anyway? Will I miss Christmas and New Year’s because I’m still sitting here watching this? We aren’t even at the dragon yet! So it was very jarring when I of course realized we would not be seeing dragon (at least not all of him). Still. I thought this was a really enjoyable movie. And that bunny sled was freaking awesome. I turned to my friend at that part and actually said, “THAT IS AWESOME.” (I rarely speak during a movie, okay?)

    Yes, the movie was too long. Parts were clearly dragged out. A lot. But I settled in and let the world sweep me away and of course I’m going to be seeing the others. The Golum scene was my favorite part of the book and he got the most laughs from the audience. I loved all the creatures. Overall, I liked it.

  • JakeBarnes12

    I was a little late getting out of bed Saturday.

    Would be great to check out the Gosling and Echo Station.

    cardinallemoine74@yahoo.com

    Thanks!

  • ThomasBrownen

    “I’ll admit, I was confused right off the bat on this one. Why would a dragon need gold?”

    This is Mythology 101. Dragons always hoard gold.

    I’m not sure why, but it’s become so bound up in their nature, it’s like asking why vampires can’t touch silver–it’s so set in mythological lore now, everyone accepts it. Tolkien’s dragon was based off of Beowulf, and I think was also influenced by the Volsunga Saga (but I haven’t gotten around to reading the Volsunga Saga yet so I can’t personally vouch for that).

    But if you’re looking for an answer about how dragons came to hoard gold, I think it’s because they’re the creature that usually embodies destructive greed. I think you often find stories of people who hoard/steal/murder for a treasure and also receive a long lifetime to enjoy it. But then they fall asleep and wake up as dragons — cursed to spend the remainder of their life as a hideous creature with only their precious gold to comfort them.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1447159138 Tim Miller

    Fe-Fi-Fo-Fum, I smell… A cease and desist.

  • BurntOrangeBoy

    The 48 frames was really weird at first but eventually I didn’t mind at all, and when it came to the fight scenes, I loved it. They were so fluid. The movie was a bit slow, but it got awesome at the the end. I really loved it and I can’t wait for the next one.

    Also: I’m disappointed that Carson won’t be reviewing ‘How to Catch a Monster’. I really loved it. It was very weird, but the writing was solid and better yet, it had an original AND interesting story. Can’t wait to see the actual movie to see how he fairs as a director, and I’m really excited to see what he writes next.

  • BurntOrangeBoy

    The I love you was to her son if I remember, which is completely fine. If it’s to a love interest, that’s a bit of a no-no. Otherwise, I agree with most everything else you had to say.

  • BurntOrangeBoy

    For ‘How To Catch a Monster’, did anyone else see that on IMDB a forty year old-looking man is listed as playing Bones. That can’t he right unless Gosling dramatically changed the story in a later draft (I hope no). IMDB is often wrong so it’s probably nothing, but it’s kinda bothering me.

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1447159138 Tim Miller

      I’m sure that’s just wrong. I read several postings that said they were casting for male actors who could play 17, so I’m pretty sure Bones is still Bones. My guess is that Mendelsohn is playing Dave.

      • BurntOrangeBoy

        Or the Cab driver

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1447159138 Tim Miller

    The briefest of thoughts on How to Catch:

    First, towns don’t get flooded when dams are destroyed, they get flooded when dams are BUILT. Writing it the other way makes no sense.

    Second, I love the cutaways to the moon’s phases, but why do they go backwards? The script shows the phases appearing in reverse order of the way they appear in nature. Is that an artistic choice, or just an error? (My money’s on the latter).

    Third, I love, love, LOVED the whole idea of the Big Bad Wolf. There’s a very distinct, Kubrick-esque Eyes Wide Shut Feel to it that made me tingle all over. The only problem I had was Dave’s final motivation; that character needs a bit more meat on him, something to tell us what drives him.

    Haven’t seen the Hobbit yet, I might wait until Christmas 2014, and hope I can find a theater that’s playing all three of them back-to-back-to-back.

  • http://twitter.com/kinnygraham Graham

    I think (unlike a few geeks on here, myself included) you must have missed the whole ‘Dungeons & Dragons’ thing :) There were dungeons – full of gold; there were dragons, guarding said gold.

    http://tomeoftreasures.com/tot_dnd/corerules/dnd_sutherlandbasicbox.htm

    Really – dragons and gold go together like lamb chops and mint sauce.

    /geek off

  • Xarkoprime

    Totally agree with the drawn out scenes.

    I saw the first screening of this movie on Thursday Dec.13th at 10pm and I was able to see the first 10 minutes of Star Trek Into Darkness, so the opening of The Hobbit was slower than it was for most people. Going from an action packed beginning of ST to 20 minutes of dwarfs in Bilbo’s house was disappointing to say the least.

    I agree with the Elf Kingdom as well. I saw the critics reviews prior to watching it and RT had it at a 68%, so when I left the theatre I could only think of those 2 scenes being the cause for such a low rating (in comparison to Jackson’s other epic movies). I was right. Apparently critics are quite restless, and usually I am too, but I’ll still say this film is underrated. You could also argue that the Gollum scene was drawn out as well, considering the amount of trouble the dwarfs were in and the amount of time it took to see what was happening to them, but it’s Gollum! He needs his screen time!

    I thought the movie was pretty epic, to be honest. I love trolls, goblins, gollums, orcs, evil spiders, and all that stuff. Carson hit it on the nose, since I cared for their journey, I found all of these to be amazing obstacles for the crew to battle. Aside from those 2 parts in the movie, which I admit were 2 very long and unnecessary parts, everything was awesome and I couldn’t have asked for me.

    I feel like I’m reiterating Carson’s review because I felt the end was a little shallow due to the story being stretched into a trilogy, but I seriously can’t wait for the next one and I’m now reading the book to find out what happens.

    Worth the Watch for me.

  • http://twitter.com/LisaAldin Lisa Aldin

    My Quick Thoughts on How To Catch a Monster: I love this script. It’s super atmospheric which I’m drawn to. Brilliant images that stick in my mind: The road under water. The batter-powered flowers. The wolf-masks. The skeletons in the car. The rat maze metaphor.

    I love Gosling more now. The man just ain’t a pretty face and abs. I thought maybe he wrote Billy for his girlfriend Eva Mendes to play (it’s an interesting role and I pictured her in it) but perhaps that’s my overly romantic mind at play.

  • Poe_Serling

    What??!!!

    You weren’t creeped out big time when our band of heroes was attakced by human-size insects… or enthralled when the Hairy Guy was bashing T-Rex skulls… or whimsified (Hey Webster, I think I just invented a new word) when during the final chase scene Kong and his ‘lady friend’ stopped for an impromptu ice skating dance in the middle of Central Park… wait a sec… the ice didn’t crack under the giant ape’s weight…

    oh, it was all a bit silly, wasn’t it? ;-

    Hey, I am looking forward to The Conjuring. Just saw a few articles, promo pics from the film… Plus, I have a personal interest in the film. Once I had the opportunity to see Ed and Lorraine Warren in person. It was an evening of chills and thrills.

    • Marija ZombiGirl

      Hey :-)

      Well, I did like the giant insects and the T-Rex, obviously, but the movie is just sooo looong… It felt like seeing this really delicious-looking pastry but once you dig in, you discover the too-heavy cream inside that just clogs up your insides :-( (Wow, how’s that for an appetizing analogy ?? :D) I just wasn’t very impressed with the whole, over-blown thing. I greatly prefer the more down-to-earth Peter Jackson, the one who gave us THE FRIGHTENERS or HEAVENLY CREATURES. And the delicious BRAINDEAD, of course :-)

      Looking very much forward to THE CONJURING, as well. I re-read the Warrens’ book after the last time we talked about it – a real chills’n thrills ride, as well !

      • Poe_Serling

        I’ve read quite a few articles saying that The Conjuring is James Wan’s best film yet – my personal fav Dead Silence. It opens here on 7/19/13.

        Another film I find intriguing is Dark Skies, which hits theaters on 2.22.13. Kinda of mashup of haunted house/scary aliens.

        And finally, The Awakening comes to DVD on 1/29/13…. boy, talk about a long wait.

  • http://twitter.com/AngryGizmo Angry Gizmo

    Oh come on. Give Jackson a break.
    It’s not easy to squeeze 276 pages into nine hours of movie.

  • ragekaje

    Weird. I thought this script was average at best. The writing seemed a bit lazy–didn’t leave a lot of room for the reader. Bully was such an unmotivated, thin character. I’m not that big on having clear goals for a movie to work but then I need interesting characters with much more substance. I can’t necessarily say what that’d be but no one here was big enough to drive the script forward. The youngest son was kind of interesting but his death wish didn’t really mean much or get explained.

    So much of the scenes relied off of the writer’s commentary as opposed to action and dialogue. Perfect example being the ending: I don’t have the script in front of me but I think he writes something like “she’s been confusing a house for a home.” Maybe that’d be a cool song lyric but here it’s not good screenwriting. I wouldn’t have come to that conclusion unless he told me and that means his characters aren’t fully fleshed out in my opinion. I think this could possibly be a cool little indie film but as a piece of writing this isn’t good.

    • Writer451

      “Maybe that’d be a cool song lyric.” Haha. Good eye.
      P Diddy used it in a song that came out last year. “Is a house really a home when your loved ones are gone?”

      • Age_C

        LYRICAL GENIUS! “can’t stop, won’t stop”

  • http://twitter.com/LisaAldin Lisa Aldin

    I agree. I thought the script was fantastic.

  • Writer451

    “So they take forever to get going. I think established or not, all writers should try and keep the story moving.”

    Funny you should say that b/c that was one of my gripes about the Gossling script. When Dave handed Billy his card I thought “Alright! Here we go! This is the beginning of the adventure. The show is about to get on the road.” But it didn’t. Then much much much later in the script when Bones found the “monster,” I thought the same thing again, but nope. In the end there was no grand goal or adventure. It was slow and lacked innovation/imagination.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1462007233 Avishai Weinberger

    It occurs to me… the flow of the opening might have been improved if the prologue with Old Bilbo was cut out and the visual exposition about the dragon etc was moved to the dinner party at Bilbo’s house.

  • Poe_Serling

    “I just couldn’t comprehend why they’d put something onscreen that looked like it had been shot on a Best Buy video camera.”

    Careful, Carson…

    Do you realize how many Geek Squad agents are out there? Before you can say ‘UNTANGLE YOUR TECH KNOTS WITH OUR TECH KNOW,’ a swarm of orange and black Volkswagen Beetles will be surrounding your block.

  • rocse22

    The Hobbit is not a perfect movie. It is, however, one of the only two 2012 blockbusters I can imagine lasting into the generations after us. The other one is the Dark Knight Rises. What do these films have in common, apart from being quite accomplished? They’re long! Very long. Bloated, in fact, but I don’t consider that a bad thing. I like long, indulgent, everything-and-the-kitchen-sink type movies. Movies with the power to turn cinema-going into an event. In fact, its often the only time when “commercial” blockbuster type movies ever really even attempt aspire to “high art”. It seems to provide the filmmakers with an opportunity to sneak in ideas, scenes and moments normally reserved for independent or more experimental cinema. From the silent DW Griffith stuff to the films of Douglas Sirk, to Gone with the Wind and The Godfather to Lord of the Rings and Titanic, its often these epic movies that end up defining generations.

    In my view, a film’s running time should be directly proportional to its budget. A quick hour-and-a-half Hobbit would have been nothing more than a cheap, disposable farce, and
    not, as Jackson perhaps wants to deliver, a definitive version with true artistic vision. Jackson faced the same criticisms with King Kong. But I can’t for the life of me work out why. The short, sharp edition already exits in the form of the original, Jackson was within his rights to go with a long, unabridged retelling; It allowed him to luxuriate its themes, its images and in the ideas inherent in its premise, exhausting all it has to offer.

    That, to my mind, is what blockbuster filmmaking ought to do — give you a long, grand fantastically bloated spectacle…

  • TruckDweller

    I have to admit, I had been simultaneously looking forward to and dreading this movie. The second I heard they were expanding it to three movies, epic warning score began to play. But the day finally arrived and the movie began and lo- it was the family friendly movie the book promised. Happy, colorful, sweet. And then the dwarves began to arrive. And I said, oh good – they’re making this child friendly. And then they kept arriving. And then they said “this thing we’re about to do, it’s dangerous.” And indeed, the kids around me perked up. Inner child truckdweller perked up. Soon they will be on a journey that could risk everything – Bilbo’s home, that he loves so much, his dishes, his cupboards, his doilies!

    And then the perking was over as twenty more minutes remained of talking about this dangerous journey with nothing established that hadn’t already been established through the talky-talk exposition.

    Look, I love a good epic as much as most fans, but keeping a scene going by tricks and distractions when the meat of the matter has already been plated, eaten and digested is just not worth the screen time. There were many great sequences throughout the film but like the opening, Jackson forgot to move on once the objectives of the scenes were complete. We kept getting sauces and seasonings long after the meat had been consumed.

    Anyway, I’m not unhappy I saw the film but I look forward to the day that all three of the films are available so that I can look for the fan edit where someone has had the chutzpah to chop the piece down. The book itself is a short adventure novel. Every sequence does not need to be epic.

  • MrTibbsLive

    There’s a Hobbit movie out? And to think the world is going to end before I see it.

  • Steve

    I thought Gosling’s script belonged on Amateur Friday. It was just that bad. I guarantee the first question any producer will ask is, “Ryan’s attached to star, right?” If yes, then they may be interested assuming they can get a page 1 rewrite. If not, the script goes right on the slush pile. It’s so awful.

    • carsonreeves1

      It’s weird. Some people have told me it’s really damn good. But then, like you, I get people who tell me it’s awful. So strange this opinion thing.

      • The Cauliflower Kid

        I think it’s “good” if you like weird, midnight movies that sort of meander with the writer thinking up…”wouldn’t this be cool” moments that don’t come out of character but rather because the writer needs things to happen to move the story along (what story there is). The whole weird sex club? The coffin? Um as far as i know that just doesn’t happen in reality..and we never learn what happens in this fantasy of a film…

        Love Gosling’s acting….maybe don’t make the first film you’ve written.

    • bruckey

      I don’t know if i’d be that cruel but it’s not good

  • Steve

    My friend treated my to The Hobbit because he had free passes. Afterwards he apologized for wasting what felt like 25 hours of my time. Even free, the movie wasn’t worth it. Game of Thrones for the win. I’m guessing it pleased the nerds and virgins though.

    • carsonreeves1

      lol – 25 hours of my time.

  • http://www.facebook.com/andrew.orillion Andrew Orillion

    I’ll see this in a few weeks when I can use one of my free passes.

    As for the Ryan Gosling script, I gave up after about 15 pages. It was nicely written, had some good atmosphere, but after 15 pages I couldn’t tell you what the script was about and that’s a huge problem. Maybe it gets better, but as of now, Gosling should stick to acting, which he is very good at. “Driver” ruled!

  • rl1800

    I thought “Monster” had some nice moments, but overall lacked enough depth or narrative drive to keep me interested. What I liked most was the ominous setting; this dying town that feels more like a graveyard than a community. But the characters were too simplistic and seemed to meander through this tale. Bully(what a name!) was memorable when he showed up in the story, but he wasn’t a constant enough threat. He’d pop up in his chairmobile occasionally, threaten Bones, then just kind of disappear. Then Bones would get back to work on his car in the front yard. Does Bully not know where Bones lives? Didn’t seem possible. Also didn’t buy Bones not knowing about the Lost River project. He grew up in this place, right? I can see the filmed version having enough atmospheric weirdness to keep audiences watching, but I’d give the script a [x] wasn’t for me.

  • JaredW

    I was all prepared to review “How to Catch a Monster,” but alas, the old switcheroo was pulled. I’ll definitely be seeing The Hobbit at some point, as I really enjoyed the LOTR trilogy.

    As for “Monster,” I think I would give it a rating between “wasn’t for me” and “worth the read.” The writing itself is really well done, as Gosling conveys a lot of information in sparse action lines. He does well with a small economy of words. I also thought the dialogue was well written and naturalistic in nature. What bothered me most in terms of the writing was the massive amount of unfilmables. Is it just me, or are a lot of recent specs starting to use these more often? There are so many statements made in the action lines of this script that just would not translate visually. For instance, it’s stated that Billy is visiting her father’s grave. How do we know it’s her father’s grave? Also, characters’ internal thoughts are relayed too much. I guess this is understandable, as this is an actor/director writing the script, but I couldn’t help but be bothered by that.

    The big issue I had with the script was the structure. It kind of meanders along, with Billy and Bones having no goal. They just go about their lives for the majority of the script with nothing driving them or the narrative itself. Events play out in too much of a slow burn style that throughout the read I was wondering “is this going anywhere?” When the characters do focus on some kind of goal, it’s about two-thirds into the script, which is way, way too late. The mystery is admittedly intriguing, but I was still left cold by the lack of a narrative drive.

    One last thing about the ending: The whole climax is about Bully (too close to Billy; hasn’t Carson slammed similar sounding character names in the past?) getting revenge on Bones for smashing Face in the bathroom. If Bully wants revenge so bad, then why does he just let Face die in Rat’s burning home? Sure, it shows how sociopathic he is, but it kind of undermines his motivation for trying to kill Bones in the first place.

  • NickYarbs

    Was so disappointed in this one I can’t even tell ya. As a huge fan of the LOTR movies, there were few movies I was more looking forward to. There is just such a problem in how these have been structurally been planned as a series. The idea that there is a single-movie Guillermo Del Toro version of the Hobbit is so insane to think about after seeing this. The first half drags on endlessly with minutia and what feels like a filmmaker knowing damn well that he is just filling up time rather than using it to his advantage. While the second half is a blast, it so does not allow for a fulfilling end to a first movie. It’s a little infuriating how much they’re just stretching out this incredibly thin-story in the hopes of a trilogy, and while I guess that it’s unfair to judge it without seeing the first two, I can’t get over how they allowed the first hour of this movie and how they allowed for an ending on this scale. The Riddles in the Dark scene was interesting, but I’m very curious how everything with Smaug is ultimately going to go. Pretty much spot on review for me, Carson.

  • Pugsley

    I wasn’t down with the 48 fps, either. Though admittedly, it enhances the cgi work, making the trolls pop and Gollum’s every pore glisten with a slimy wetness. But it makes live humans look as if they’ve stepped out of a soap opera from the 80s. The worst thing about the higher frame rate is that the images lose their warmth. Humans, especially, appear cold and overlit.

    The story itself, however, is a good one. Although Jackson does stretch the opening act a tad too far. He is, after all, trying to tease three complete movies out of the one book and the appendices of the RINGS trilogy. I didn’t like the way Jackson revisioned the Troll episode, however, to favor a silly, high testosterone battle sequence. As I recall, in the novel, Bilbo actually outwits the Trolls, by mimicking their voices, and making them quarrel until the sun rises and turns them to stone. In this adaptation, it’s really Gandalf who does away with them by simply cleaving a rock in half. Boring.

  • Poe_Serling

    Just watched an entertaining interview with Peter Jackson on the Colbert Report (I believe it’s a rerun from a week or two ago)…

    Jackson said that he’s cut “most of the second film and … it’s entitled Desolation of Smaug.”

  • Xarkoprime

    Totally agree with your comments on *SPOILERS* Dave being the crazy, stalker, would-be killer. I read the whole thing through and there was never an indication that this might happen. It was completely random. I think it’s also important to note that by process of elimination Dave would be the only candidate for her stalker. I’m not saying that makes it less random, it doesn’t, it just makes it more predictable, in a way. I imagine in the re-write this will be worked on quite a bit considering its importance in the film.

  • Alex Fedolak

    I saw it in 24fps and 48fps and the 48 seemed really clear but distracting in parts. I liked the 24 better as I felt more immersed in the film rather than trying to see every detail.

  • Xarkoprime

    I already posted a review for The Hobbit earlier, but I just finished How to Catch a Monster by Ryan Gosling and decided I’d share my thoughts on it for those who did read it.

    I’m not sure which draft this screenplay was, but when I reached the end I couldn’t help but assume it was the very first. I think it needs a lot of work.

    First, I’m not even sure how I’d put this story into a logline. A lot of things happened in the beginning, but the structure and slow pace made the story’s direction a bit confusing. For the first 20 pages we established a good back story for our main characters, but I can’t recall there being a set problem for them to solve. The Story does develop later though, with Billy’s main goal being to pay off her debt before foreclosure (stakes, urgency) and Bone’s goal of avoiding the town Bully that wants to kill him (more stakes). It takes quite awhile for the screenplay to get to these goals.

    Second, I think the story was confused by its lack of focus on a main character. It isn’t clear who our hero is. Based on my first point, Billy definitely has the most clear goal with urgency added to it, so I think Gosling should have paid a lot more attention to her and made her storyline a bit more meaty. Since we are switching back and forth between 2 almost completely different storylines that share the screenplay’s runtime, they take away from one another.I found this made the story quite shallow. Instead of really focusing and developing Billy’s storyline, we get interrupted by the many things going on in Bone’s life. If you’re a fan of Bones over Billy, the same could be said vice versa as well.

    Third, spoiler, Dave was the one stalking her? Really? That seemed so random to me. I’m not sure I’ve ever been in a situation like this before. Due to the screenplay’s attention to Dave, by process of elimination it would seem quite predictable on screen that he’d be the one stalking her. But it’s still so random and out of the blue! That’s a really bad situation to be in as a writer, so I hope with the re-write this is taken care of somehow.

    I had no idea this was going to be somewhat about the Loch Ness monster. I think Gosling could have played this card a little more than he did, and a little sooner as well. I think it was definitely played down, which I found disappointing. It could have been a bit more important to the story, even though it wasn’t real.

    That being said, Gosling had a pretty sweet style of writing that was really eay to read and understand. His dialogue is cunning in some instances as well. He also uses chase/escape scenes frequently to keep the audience in suspense and it worked to keep me reading his screenplay to the end.

    What I learned: not having a central focus on a main character can really steal a story’s depth. How to Catch a Monster focused on 2 characters equally as much, making the story shallow as each character’s screentime stole from the others. More focus on one and less on the other would have given the story a more clear problem and would have allowed for a more satisfying ending regardless of which character was granted the primary focus.

    Entertainment – not for me.
    Learning – Definitely worth the read.

  • LisaMcDowell

    Carson you were so on point with this one! You said everything I was thinking in the theater. I spent the first 5 -10 mins of the film totally turned off by the way it looked, which was as you mentioned very much like a history channel re-enactment or a home video from the 90′s. Cheap ain’t the word. I don’t know what’s up with people trying to make everything look so real or feel as if anyone could have shot it. I personally don’t go to the movies for that. I go to be transported and entertained, especially with these types of films.

    As the story went on I got over it but I was then bothered by the 15 mins it took everyone to get to Bilbo’s house and also as you mentioned the fact that it was never made clear why or how Bilbo was selected to go on the journey, other than the fact that Gandalf made some reference to having known Bilbo’s parent’s. And again the dragon won’t know his scent…I mean I guess, if that’s all you got for me.

    Then we have the lead/prince dwarf guy who in my mind is sort of like Aragorn in the LOTR trilogy, but when its finally time for him to show what he’s made of, the slow motion starts, that triumphant like music begins and he goes at the pale orc only to be bested. Now perhaps this is how its written in the book but I suspect part of the reason this occurred was to get he and Bilbo on good terms. I totally understand that reasoning but you can’t have the Aragorn like character being bested the first time he’s up to show his skills. I’m just saying.

    Despite those few things I still found it entertaining. It was great to revisit characters I hadn’t seen since LOTR and I’m sure I’ll watch the next Hobbit movie that comes out.

    Side Note: Before seeing the Hobbit which it looooong as we all know. I had to watch an almost 15-30 min preview for Star Trek (no exaggeration). Ive never seen a preview that long and it was ridiculous! For a moment I actually forgot what movie I was there to see! I hope that’s not going to become the norm.

  • Guess Who

    For those who have watched the movie, how different do you feel the Hobbit is to the LOTR series?

  • Auckland Guy

    Anyone with more than a passing knowledge of the book would have worked out we weren’t going to get to the Dragon and the gold in the first film, just as anyone with a passing knowledge of Lord of the Rings would have known we weren’t going to see the final confrontation with Sauron til the third movie. For me, that’s fine, as long as you have a ‘mini-climax’ at the end of the first and second movies and then hint at what’s to come. I think most people going to these movies know this will be the case and are okay with that. Jackson pulls this off well I think. That didn’t bother me too much as it’s a ‘building trilogy’, as it were.

    What did bother me though was what Carson and others have mentioned – the movie was just too long (about 30 minutes by my reckoning) with cuts which would have been easy to make. There were many ‘story-stoppers’ in the first act, i.e. scenes which didn’t move the story forward at all and were self-indulgent. I’m surprised Peter and his screenwriting partners (not to mention studio oversight) didn’t reign in these excesses in the interests of making the best possible theatrical release version. Put those things in the extended cut if you wish, maybe they belong there (though I’d argue anything which doesn’t move the story forward is always superfluous), but they certainly compromised the theatrical version.

    For me the prologue about the dwarves losing their kingdom to the dragon was great, really grabbed you and set things up well. After that should have cut straight to Gandalf scratching his mark on Bilbo’s door, then a scene establishing Bilbo as a homebody, followed by the dwarves gatecrashing him. Then straight into why they are there and where they’re going… Bilbo is conflicted, talks to Gandalf, then they’re off. In other words, lose the old Bilbo/Frodo scene altogether, lose the Gandalf/Bilbo introduction, lose the elaborate and separate arrival of all the dwarves, lose the dwarf song about Bilbo while doing the dishes (didn’t fit tonally), and shorten the dwarf exposition. 30 minutes there could have been 15, or even ten. Later, the first scene with Radagast could have been cut as it just killed the story by taking a detour before the story really kicked off. Right there we have lost 20 to 25 minutes, and other cuts would have been easy.

    I felt Peter and his screenwriting comrades ignored the dictum that somtimes you have to be prepared to ‘kill your babies’, by having the old Bilbo/Frodo scenes in there. Also the greeting with Bilbo and Gandalf… ‘good day’, ‘By that, do you mean it is a good day…’ etc. In the book it’s a nice and whimsical piece of business, but in the film it would have been better left out as it didn’t propel the story forward at all. Likewise the jolly dwarf song while they were bouncing plates, itself a nice piece of business, but better left out when trying to set up a story. Also just didn’t fit tonally with the rest of the movie.

    So enjoyed the film overall but a shame, it could have been better, tighter. Just goes to show even the best can get it wrong. I’m sure they’ll bounce back with a better second and third film.

  • Poe_Serling

    I like it – The Jump Ahead to Skull Island Fan Club. :-)

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