The Hobbit: An Unexpected Waste of Money

Sophia Schlesinger, Reporter

December 17 brought the third and final installment in the Hobbit trilogy, the prolonged film based on J.R.R. Tolkien’s 1937 fantasy novel. The first film, An Unexpected Journey, came out in 2012, and having finished off the film just now, I can’t help but feel that it’s basically a nature special on the islands of New Zealand. It’s a well known fact that the Lord of the Rings movies have a bad rap for being mostly walking; to split any of these simply plotted stories into three parts is a very poor executive decision.
When I heard that a live action Hobbit movie was coming out, my mind immediately went to flashbacks of the animated Hobbit movie that came out in 1977, complete with song montages and tastefully choppy animation. To see that movie in a live action style would have probably been the best case scenario. However, three full films is beyond excessive. The total run time for this movie is seven hours and 54 minutes, or 474 minutes, for a book that’s 320 pages long. To put that in perspective–that’s a minute and a half for each page of the book, which is primarily description.
If anyone was to look at these numbers, they can tell that the division was not an artistic choice, but an economic one. The cumulative revenue for the the three movies is close to $3 billion, whereas just one movie would be significantly less. This realization just spoils the whole series, for me at least for me. It shows a general trend in sacrificing the quality of art for quantity, which generally makes more money. The unfortunate reality is that we have three pretty subpar Hobbit movies, rather than one epic, swashbuckling, full-drag-em-out motion picture.
The first error they ran into was the split points of the movie. The finish to each film was pretty hasty and didn’t really satisfy the cliffhanger criteria, and the opening to each is pretty awkward. This is definitely true of the latest film, which opens with the extremely anticlimactic death of Smaug. It makes it seem like his character is really only a problem for about 10 minutes before his triflin’ ass gets shot down in the classic “third time’s the charm” format. The film then awkwardly stumbles into the war, which happens in the span of maybe 50 pages in the book. The rest of the movie basically alternates between the dwarves convincing Thorin to stop being such a tool, and the war. There’s hardly any plot there.
Maybe some credit can be given for the battle scenes in this movie, which are definitely satisfying in terms of fantasy violence. However, there’s definitely a tendency to go over the top, exemplified by Legolas’s combat scenes. The dude jumps on falling stones, for crying out pete’s sake. Sure, Thranduil is good with that bow and arrow… but can he defy gravity? Legolas will now be a playable character in Super Smash Brothers.
This movie also has a bad habit of turning what ought to be big, significant events into 10-minute segments in the film. This happened with the killing of Smaug, as I mentioned, but it also afflicted Gandalf’s rescue scene. The brevity of the rescue made it seem like it was never really that much of a task, they just rescued him and were kind of like, “Wow, that was difficult.”
Finally, the three part saga ends in the same way– Bilbo has a moment of panic when he sees his stuff being moved out of his house, but he’s able to recover it within minutes and goes back to cozy life in his hobbit hole. A stale, awkward epilogue to a rather tedious trilogy. Walking out of the movie theater, I could only think of the Hobbit movie of my childhood. And I got nostalgic for an era where movies were less about box office sales and more about, you know, quality film-making.
For someone looking to enjoy some nice scenery and some good old CGI fantasy violence with the tiniest spoonful of plot thrown in there for good measure, these movies are a good time. For anyone else– Save your money.