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Someone Is Trying Too Hard
Let me start by saying that I enjoyed this movie. I would recommend it to most people. But even while I was watching it, there were issues that I had with the film that I need to vent about.

PACING.

The Hobbit doesn't quite reach the standard set before it by the LOTR films, all of which had excellent pacing. It even starts off with a misstep: including old Bilbo and Frodo in the opening. Although all the exposition is nice, and its cool to see things that the book only ever alluded to, old Bilbo and Frodo do nothing beyond letting the viewer know "oh, this is an LOTR movie, it's got Elijah Wood in it". The pacing is better after that, once the main quest gets underway. The initial interactions between Bilbo and the dwarves are excellent, the first part of the journey is great, the troll scene is good (could have been better, but good), I loved Radaghast, the warg chase is cool, Rivendell is great. The council between Elrond, Galadriel, Gandalf and Saruman is excellently written and may be my favorite scene in the entire movie. Then the dwarves leave Rivendell, and everything draaaaaags. Basically, there's too much action. The entire last half of the movie is action sequences, save for the riddle contest. I like action and action scenes a lot, but an important part of pacing is putting space between action sequences, enough that the audience has a chance to catch their breath. Instead, there's so much action that it gets boring. It felt like the writers were afraid that the first movie would be too boring, so they padded it with more action. If you cut out the Frodo parts, the stone giant battle, and shortened the goblin chase scene and the pine tree showdown with Azog, you could easily keep the movie under two and a half hours. It had no business being that long.

On another note, I could write an entire review about how the riddle contest was mishandled. It's one of my favorite parts of the book, because it felt like Bilbo was playing chess with the devil. The only time Gollum has ever achieved an air of menace was in the first LOTR movie, when you didn't see him. Once we saw him, he became something for us to pity. To do the riddle contest justice, it needed to be dark and it needed to not show Gollum very much. Instead, we got an extremely well-lit cave and Bilbo looking more baffled than frightened by this bald monkey in front of him.
I hated the Frodo scene. It felt much too forced, like a "Hey look! This is related to LOTR! See? Frodo!" It was also too long. My other gripe about the intro was the prologue about Erebor. It worked in Fellowship, because that prologue had taken place hundreds of years prior. However, Thorin should have been the one telling the tale to Bilbo (they could have used the same exact flashback scenes) during the meeting with the dwarfs. It left the whole "unexpected party" scene lacking. The dwarfs just showed up, tried to get Bilbo to tag along with very little explanation, and left.
comment #17459 JobanGrayskull 28th Dec 12
The Hobbit suffers from the same issues LOTR had. It takes the Hobbit around an hour to get through all its exposition dumps and flashbacks. It's about an hour and twenty minutes to get through the same in Fellowship. Like with Return of the king, most of the movie is action sequences, which are there to show "hey something is happening". Also, I think it would be impossible for Gollum to be menacing after Two Towers, if not in appearance, than that "mah prethchussssss" voice. Yes the scene is in the dark, but every illustration I've seen shows it in a very well lit manner, so they're just following the artistic interpretations of the books (even one of said artists was listed in the credits).
comment #17460 fenrisulfur 28th Dec 12
The Hobbit suffers from the same issues LOTR had. It takes the Hobbit around an hour to get through all its exposition dumps and flashbacks. It's about an hour and twenty minutes to get through the same in Fellowship. Like with Return of the king, most of the movie is action sequences, which are there to show "hey something is happening". Also, I think it would be impossible for Gollum to be menacing after Two Towers, if not in appearance, than that "mah prethchussssss" voice. Yes the scene is in the dark, but every illustration I've seen shows it in a very well lit manner, so they're just following the artistic interpretations of the books (even one of said artists was listed in the credits).
comment #17461 fenrisulfur 28th Dec 12
@Joban Grayskull: That's an interesting idea about putting the prologue into the party scene. I can see why that would work and how that would improve the pacing, but I also understand why they didn't. Namely, they needed to include the battle for Moria to introduce the villain (and it wouldn't make much sense for Thorin to include that part in his tale) and the dinner scene was long enough as it was. Plus, IIRC, in the book much of the exposition was in the form of the song, which was included.

@fenrisulfur (great name, btw): Personally, I don't really mind info dumps and exposition in fiction, especially when the fictional world is as rich as Tolkien's. My only gripe with the beginning of the movie was the inclusion of old Bilbo and Frodo. Take them out, and the intro would flow much smoother. As for the action in ROTK vs. Hobbit, all I can say is that I was never bored watching ROTK, but I got bored watching the Hobbit, and both times it was during action sequences (specifically, the stone giant fight and the scene in the goblin lair). To me, a sign of good pacing is the ability to keep the audience's attention and know when to switch to the next scene. Return of The King may have had a lot of action, but I maintain that it was far better paced (and far more integral to the plot) than the action scenes in the Hobbit.
comment #17532 badassbookworm92 3rd Jan 13
I personally thought the entire Rivendell scene with Gandalf, Galadriel, Saruman, and Elrond was boring as fuck. It has little to do with the plot of the movie and was mostly shoved in there as fanservice, much like the scenes with Bilbo and Frodo together.

The action scenes were too long, agreed. I think they had some really great setpieces, but there's a lot of filler between those cool setpieces.
comment #17577 Scardoll 5th Jan 13
The Rivendell scene is, once you see the second film (I know it only just came out when writing this), actually somewhat important. Personally I didn't have any issues with that scene.
comment #22514 Historian1912 15th Dec 13
I should probably mention that Peter Jackson was persuaded to stretch the series from two movies to three in order save the studio from bankruptcy. Of course, that still doesn't absolve him from making the movie as long as it was (I think he just likes making long movies in general). Because of the even further split, the first movie only adapted six chapters from the novel. Six! In contrast, each LOTR movie tried to adapt twenty chapters, and ultimately failed. Anyway, that's where the pacing problem comes from.

Really, Jackson could not only have done well with under two and a half hours, there is no reason why he could not go under two hours, or even maybe an hour and a half.
comment #22520 shiro_okami 15th Dec 13
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