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My Holiday Gift To You: Skip “the Hobbit”

It’s nice to see a film that confirms so much of what I try to teach people about video. If only the Hobbit could have confirmed it in half the time.

Let me start by saying that Peter Jackson can direct rings around me (pun intended). Love his work. But the Hobbit is a bloated mess of a movie desperately in search of a story and a hero.

In film, every shot must have a clear beginning, middle and end.  Shots add up to scenes with clear beginnings, middles and ends.  The scenes add up to sequences, the sequences to a film.  The Hobbit, as you might expect, has some awesome shots. Fun creatures, stunning New Zealand vistas and beautiful miniatures.  And that’s where it stops.  The scenes are nearly pointless and the sequences hopelessly unstructured.  The result is a movie with no story.  All the characters do is travel and travel and travel.  And fight occasionally.  And reminisce. Oh, God how they reminisce.

This lack of focus on story is made worse by a lack of focus on the hero. The book is about Bilbo Baggins.  The movie focuses on 16 different primary characters and Bilbo’s journey gets completely lost in the process.  Multiple lead characters work in a film (see Lord of the Rings) only if their stories are focused and compelling– you know, with beginnings, middles and ends.  Not the case here.

I wanted my $14 and 3 hours back, but I re-learned valuable lessons about story and heroes.  Keep your time and money– the lesson’s on me. Merry Christmas.

Geek note:  The film’s 48 frames per second capture and projection makes it look like badly shot HD TV.  It shines a spotlight on every flaw in the dwarf’s makeup and every bad digital match in the battle scenes.  In short, it takes the magic out of the movie. Could 48 fps be beautiful?  Maybe.  Is it now?  Nope.  Your turn, James Cameron.

Also in the spirit of the season: Ten Tips for Shooting Better Holiday Video

4 thoughts on “My Holiday Gift To You: Skip “the Hobbit”

  1. I enjoyed the Hobbit, and feel the lack of focus is in part due to the dilution of the story line within the context of the books themselves. Triologies and sequels are prone to this, but I agree that the screen play was a bit aimless at times.

    The bigger issue I agree with is the 48 fps. I saw the Hobbit in 3D, and the 48 fps just didn't work for me. Yes, lots of beautiful shots and effects, but many times I felt like I was watching an afternoon soap opera with weird color grading. I guess "better" is not always better.

  2. The problem with The Hobbit is Jackson splitting a 275 page book into three films all in the name of greed. I enjoyed The Lord of the Rings because, for the most part, it followed the books. How can you have a storyline when you are only telling 1/3 of the story? Adding a large, pissed off, albino goblin doesn't cut it.

  3. I respect your opinion but I have to comment!
    I actually loved The Hobbit and I disagree with your point about Bilbo.
    At the beginning of the film he is insular and reserved and stubborn.
    Throughout the film he is presented with difficult choices that he must make, sometimes in order for his new friends to survive. As well as surviving his encounter with Gollum.
    By the end of the film he is already quite different. And also Dan is right so it's not fair to label this film has no story if there are two more films.

  4. Totally agree about the 48fps. The first thing I noticed was that all of the characters looked like they were wearing false noses.

    Of course the _actors_ were wearing false noses, but they looked just that: false. It ruined the suspension of disbelief for the viewer to think they were watching 'real' wizards and dwarfs. As you say, no magic.

    It was a long three hours.

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