Legolas and Tauriel kept bursting in with their gymnastics routine
January 21, 2015 8:18 AM   Subscribe

I Have Recut Peter Jackson’s Hobbit Trilogy Into A Single 4-Hour Film
Back in 2012, I had high hopes of adding The Hobbit to my annual Lord of the Rings marathon, but in its current bloated format, I simply cannot see that happening. So, over the weekend, I decided to condense all three installments... into a single 4-hour feature that more closely resembled Tolkien’s original novel. Well, okay, it’s closer to 4.5 hours, but those are some long-ass credits!

Don't bother counting periods; the copy at archive.org, to which the relevant link pointed, has been taken down. (The torrents are another story.)

(Previously: Star Wars edits.)
posted by Shmuel510 (112 comments total) 36 users marked this as a favorite
 
Get back to me when the run time is down to less than three hours.
posted by Gelatin at 8:22 AM on January 21, 2015


Seriously. I'll wait until the 90-minute version.
posted by trunk muffins at 8:24 AM on January 21, 2015 [8 favorites]


As soon as I had seen the third one I knew somebody would eventually re-cut the trilogy into a single film. I just didn't think it would happen this quickly! I do wish there was a higher quality though, at the very least a BluRay rip. Actually, where did the copy of the last film come from? A screener DVD?
posted by mr. manager at 8:26 AM on January 21, 2015 [1 favorite]


I'll wait for the book.
posted by So You're Saying These Are Pants? at 8:26 AM on January 21, 2015 [13 favorites]


Holding out for the "at the *chime* turn the page" version myself.
posted by joeyh at 8:28 AM on January 21, 2015 [6 favorites]


I'll wait for the Terry Gilliam version.
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 8:30 AM on January 21, 2015 [7 favorites]


The first installment's trailer captured the original LOTR magic for me. That was the last time that happened.
posted by Think_Long at 8:31 AM on January 21, 2015 [5 favorites]


ass credits?
posted by djeo at 8:31 AM on January 21, 2015 [5 favorites]


mr. manager: Actually, where did the copy of the last film come from? A screener DVD?
You really want to know what's in that delicious sausage?
posted by IAmBroom at 8:33 AM on January 21, 2015 [4 favorites]


As long as they keep the long scene in Bilbo's hobbit-hole, I could see loving this!
posted by Greg Nog at 8:35 AM on January 21, 2015 [4 favorites]


ass credits?

It's a little-known secret that Orlando Bloom used a stunt-ass for much of the film.
posted by yoink at 8:43 AM on January 21, 2015 [3 favorites]


I really hope they'll also release the anti-cut, the movie of everything that was left out of this version. Five hundred hours of dueling orcs and Transformers stone giants, elf romances, and dwarves eating soup. It'd be an interesting experiment in the cinema of boredom.
posted by RogerB at 8:43 AM on January 21, 2015 [28 favorites]


Now this is something I would be willing to watch.
posted by Steely-eyed Missile Man at 8:49 AM on January 21, 2015 [1 favorite]


As long as they keep the long scene in Bilbo's hobbit-hole, I could see loving this!

And sandworms! The spice must flow... to Valinor.
posted by ennui.bz at 8:56 AM on January 21, 2015 [4 favorites]


I'll wait for the book.
posted by Flashman at 9:02 AM on January 21, 2015 [1 favorite]


I know everybody loves to hate on the Hobbit trilogy because it really was needless to make it into a trilogy, but a lot of people hating on it skip over the bit that cutting the trilogy down to a short running time involves cutting out a lot of fun movie stuff. The trilogy is bloated and runs long, but out of all that material there's really only three easy and obvious cuts (which combine for maybe an hour of run time):

1. Ninety percent of "Gandalf goes to Dol Guldur and finds out the Necromancer is actually Sauron"
2. The stupid series of gags in Battle of Five Armies where Alfrid is a coward
3. Ninety percent of the flashback sequences and the Old Bilbo bookend scenes

Everything else is cutting down stuff that's mostly fun and good - sometimes excessive, perhaps, but still fun. A lot of people kneejerk argue that everything to do with Tauriel should be cut and from an economy-of-story standpoint that's fair, but Tauriel is one of the most fun things about the trilogy: a female character who gets to be the moral centre for the Elves AND gets a good B-story in her relationship with Kili AND she doesn't get killed off to advance a male character's story arc, which I think a lot of cynics expected to happen.

What else? "Let's cut down on the Dwarves' scenes." But Thorin's company, along with Bilbo, is the spine of the entire book, and you're chopping up some wonderful performances: Richard Armitage's Thorin is excellent, Ken Stott's Balin is exactly the lovable old uncle Balin needs to be, Graham MacTavish's Dwalin and James Nesbitt's Bofur get lovely scenes, Dean O'Gorman and Aidan Turner's Fili and Kili have the presence necessary to make their eventual deaths resonate.

Editing is certainly the craft of hard choices, and the editor in this case made some doozies. Chopping out Tauriel and Legolas (as much as i think Legolas's inclusion in the story was among the most superfluous of Jackson's decisions) means the Elves come off as ambiguous in the story, to say the least, which might be less effective - the one great thing about the Tauriel/Legolas/Thranduil arc in the movies is that it sharply emphasizes the emotional and societal disconnect between the Elves and everybody else in Middle-Earth, which really nicely sets up the "the Elves are just fucking off to Valinor" arc in LotR. It also means that two of the best action sequences in the series - the barrel ride and the final fight against Azog and Bolg - have to be chopped to shit. (The editor's cut of the barrel ride is serviceable, I suppose, but Jackson's cut of it flows; it reminds me a lot of how the original battle against the Cave Troll in Fellowship comes in two flavours, the theatrical cut's butchered, hard-to-watch version and the extended cut's full, smooth and much more enjoyable version.)

There's stuff you can cut without pain. You can probably cut everything to do with Beorn, for example - he's the Tom Bombadil of the Hobbit movies, a narrative digression who, while fun, isn't necessary at all to the plot and who just destroys pace. The stone giants' battle in the first movie, that can go. The Gundabad stuff in the third movie, most of that can go.

I want to take a crack at editing down the trilogy myself when the final Extended Edition comes out because then I'll have access to "everything" - I mean, there are some gorgeous scenes in the first two Extended Editions that I would want in my toolbox. I suspect the magic zone is probably two movies, totalling five hours or so: An Unexpected Journey and There And Back Again, say.
posted by mightygodking at 9:03 AM on January 21, 2015 [24 favorites]


Wasn't it going to just be two movies at one point?
posted by Curious Artificer at 9:06 AM on January 21, 2015


The trilogy is bloated and runs long, but out of all that material there's really only three easy and obvious cuts (which combine for maybe an hour of run time):

Just off the top of my head, you left out the stupid "let's build an elaborate trap of molten gold for Smaug" bit in the second movie and the entire "ZOMG dragon hoard sickness!" subplot. I also completely agree with excising the character of Tauriel, which includes the romance subplot with Kili. I finally saw the third movie, and it felt heavily padded, while at the same time completely failing to show a coherent actual resolution to the Battle of Five Armies.
posted by Gelatin at 9:13 AM on January 21, 2015 [3 favorites]


Just off the top of my head, you left out the stupid "let's build an elaborate trap of molten gold for Smaug" bit in the second movie and the entire "ZOMG dragon hoard sickness!" subplot.

The Smaug action sequence in the second movie is fun and exciting, and gives the dwarves and Bilbo some agency against Smaug, which is nice; the dragon hoard sickness subplot actually makes all of Thorin's actions in the book in the third movie make sense and gives weight to his friendship with Bilbo.

I'd cut elements from each - just as I'd cut down, say, Stephen Fry's turn as the Master of Lake-Town, or chunks of the stay at Rivendell - but I wouldn't eliminate either entirely.
posted by mightygodking at 9:17 AM on January 21, 2015 [4 favorites]


Cut the entirety of the "barrel ride" nonsense. That's got to be at least an hour, right there.
posted by sfenders at 9:17 AM on January 21, 2015 [11 favorites]


I think you have to leave in things that were actually in the book, though, and the barrel ride was.
posted by Curious Artificer at 9:21 AM on January 21, 2015 [2 favorites]


Barrel ride, yes; ridiculously extended fight scene -between dwarves, elves and orcs, no.
posted by Gelatin at 9:32 AM on January 21, 2015 [6 favorites]


the entire "ZOMG dragon hoard sickness!" subplot

But that, too, is from the book. I mean, it's not specifically "dragon hoard sickness," IIRC, but Thorin's diseased mental state once Smaug is defeated and his obsession with the Arkenstone are the major plot motors of the last, what, third of the book?

It's interesting that the knock on Jackson's films is that he added in all sorts of stuff that's not in the book--but this thread is giving me the impression that what people really hated was the stuff that was from the book.
posted by yoink at 9:34 AM on January 21, 2015 [3 favorites]


...in fact, in a proper cut of the movie, the barrel ride, in which Bilbo, having no one to seal him in a barrel, leaps onto one at the last minute, and so alone is able to admire the scenery as they float down the River Running, could be a moment of quiet reflection between major sequences, just like it is in the book.

In fact, I think that sums up my dissatisfaction with much of the padding in the movie, in that almost all the fun action movie stuff isn't about Bilbo at all, which makes the entire trilogy not really about its title character.
posted by Gelatin at 9:36 AM on January 21, 2015 [18 favorites]


a lot of fun movie stuff

You say fun movie stuff, I say boring crapola.
posted by Steely-eyed Missile Man at 9:37 AM on January 21, 2015 [12 favorites]


I think I'd enjoy something like this just to keep the narrative flow. The beginning of the third movie (admittedly having not seen the second since it was in the theater) was jarring as it jumps right into Smaug's attack on Laketown, and then BAM, he's dead! I wanted more Smaug, more payoff. Plus, that cut between films was what caused the whole extended fight between the dwarves and the dragon, because the second film needed a climactic battle but they weren't ready for the actual climactic battle with Smaug so that ended up being, well, anti-climactic. Too bad, since it was visually pretty awesome.
posted by dellsolace at 9:38 AM on January 21, 2015


How about we cut down on grumpy elves? The Hobbit movies really soured me on their eternal harumphiness.
posted by mynameisluka at 9:42 AM on January 21, 2015


Tauriel is one of the most fun things about the trilogy ....
You can probably cut everything to do with Beorn, for example


This is so wrong, I don't even know where to start.
posted by dialetheia at 9:42 AM on January 21, 2015 [19 favorites]


Thorin was obsessed with the Arkenstone, yes, but you could establish that with two or three quick scenes. Thorin threatening Dwalin with death can go. Thorin actually states in the movie the same reason for not parleying he does in the book -- not while an armed horde is at his doorstep, particularly the wood-elves that kept him prisoner, and without any need for cursed dragon gold. His anger at Bilbo's takign the Arkenstone was in the book, too.

And again, all those additions make the film's action revolve much more around Thorin than Bilbo. One could indeed cut out anything that wasn't in the book in regard to those subplots and have a perfectly suitable movie without tons of tedious padding.
posted by Gelatin at 9:48 AM on January 21, 2015 [1 favorite]


The action in "The Hobbit" (the book) takes place over the course of one year. You know Peter Jackson won't be happy until he manages to release the "Ultra-Super-Unexpurgated-Mega-Cut" that will take place in real time.
posted by TDavis at 9:50 AM on January 21, 2015 [4 favorites]


the dragon hoard sickness subplot actually makes all of Thorin's actions in the book in the third movie make sense and gives weight to his friendship with Bilbo.

the whole point is that Thorin is driven mad by a combination of hubris and living in/never matching up to the glory of your ancestors accomplishments.

making it because he caught dragon cooties is taking a giant dump on the intelligence and sensitivity of the audience and also turns something fundamentally human which everyone can relate to e.g. hubrus, into a yet another 'tech' script moment for nerds who are afraid of characters actually having human motivations and foibles.

the absolute low point of the Hobbit is the treatment of Smaug. with reference to the above: hubris and living in the past, the whole fucking point of the book is that the dwarves and bilbo get to the objective of their quest andhave no clue and no hope of doing anything against a dragon... but then by the heroics of others they end up reclaiming the seat of their ancestors glory, without doing anything particularly heroic themselves. Thorin is telling himself these romantic tales of quest and adventure of heroic daring do, but then he just shows up and "wins" without doing anything heroic at all.

*that* is why Thorin goes mad.

also, why isn't Bilbo invisible when he is riddling with the dragon? i.e. the whole point of having a magic invisibility ring in the first place? why?
posted by ennui.bz at 9:51 AM on January 21, 2015 [26 favorites]


"It also means that two of the best action sequences in the series - the barrel ride and the final fight against Azog and Bolg - have to be chopped to shit. (The editor's cut of the barrel ride is serviceable, I suppose, but Jackson's cut of it flows; it reminds me a lot of how the original battle against the Cave Troll in Fellowship comes in two flavours, the theatrical cut's butchered, hard-to-watch version and the extended cut's full, smooth and much more enjoyable version.)"

Yes, every now and then I run into something that really smacks me in the face with how true "different strokes for different folks" is.

I went into the movies explicitly thinking that of course it wouldn't be just the same as the book, and intending to try to appreciate it as its own thing. I enjoyed the first film, albeit with a few reservations about how the emotional arc was changed (Bilbo stepping up to heroism earlier and Thorin accepting him earlier for example)--and even those, I appreciate more now that I've seen the full trilogy.

I liked the second one much less--and the barrel ride was pretty much the point where I lost any interest in the film at all. That fight sequence did nothing for me whatsoever, maybe less than that, since it burned away what I'd liked about the film up to then. Things then got better for most of the rest of the film, but the running battle against Smaug in the mountain soured me again.

For what it's worth, my wife (who only read the hobbit as an adult, unlike myself) had nearly exactly the same reaction as I did. My oldest son (to whom I read the book as a child), absolutely loved the barrel ride and didn't have much to say about the running battle against Smaug.
posted by Four Ds at 9:51 AM on January 21, 2015 [9 favorites]


I saw the third movie a couple weeks ago and thought it was okay. What really pissed me off was the forty-five minute after credits teaser for Jackson's upcoming Silmarillion adaptation....
posted by AdamCSnider at 9:53 AM on January 21, 2015


All I care about is the party elf and whether he is still in his full glory in the edit.
posted by sleeping bear at 9:55 AM on January 21, 2015 [5 favorites]


also, why isn't Bilbo invisible when he is riddling with the dragon? i.e. the whole point of having a magic invisibility ring in the first place? why

That was a big WTF point for me in the second movie, and the big dumb chase through the mountain with the gold bath took it completely off the rails for me. Mrs. Fleebnork and I didn't bother to see the third film.

I would like to see a fan edit once the HD movies are fully released with whatever EE material they have to draw upon. I'm hoping someone can do some justice.
posted by Fleebnork at 10:03 AM on January 21, 2015


also, giving the Orcs a general and making it all about mano y mano between Thorin and the Orc general makes the Orcs less mysterious and therefore *less* scary.

you know it's because someone decided in a script committee meeting that the audience needed a symbolic figure to "understand" the orcs. it's a nice example about how Hollywood scriptwriting bozos don't actually understand how stories work anymore, where "cynicism" about the audience is just a mask for incompetence.
posted by ennui.bz at 10:05 AM on January 21, 2015 [2 favorites]


That was a big WTF point for me in the second movie, and the big dumb chase through the mountain with the gold bath took it completely off the rails for me. Mrs. Fleebnork and I didn't bother to see the third film.

the thing about it was that not only was trying to douse the (fire breathing!!!) dragon in molten gold basically on the level of "Axe Cop," but the whole story balances on the fact that the dwarves are just totally outclassed by Smaug. they have zero hope of doing anything other than getting roasted and eaten... but then they don't end up have to do anything in order to reclaim the mines. so, by making them try to fight the dragon, and making the dragon too clumsy to catch a perfectly visible fat little hobbit scrambling around his den, they both wreck the story in general, but specifically make Smaug less scary and therefore *less* dramatic in the movie.

I mean, Smaug can't even catch a hobbit or a bunch of bungling dwarves, so shooting him dead with an arrow is no big deal.
posted by ennui.bz at 10:11 AM on January 21, 2015 [5 favorites]


Thorin is telling himself these romantic tales of quest and adventure of heroic daring do, but then he just shows up and "wins" without doing anything heroic at all.

*that* is why Thorin goes mad.


That's a cool story. It's not the one that Tolkien wrote, however. Tolkien wrote a story about how Dwarves are kinda crazy about gold and this one particular Dwarf went a bit nutso over it. There's not a skerrick of the (very interesting and compelling) plot motor you describe in the actual book.

I think the reason they went with "Dragon cooties" is because they didn't want the "Dwarves, eh, they're lovable but sooooooooo greedy" racial essentialism of the book. You needed a "why has our hero become a dick?" motor and the one that Tolkien provided (very explicitly) in the book is one that is likely to make modern audiences uncomfortable ("are we meant to read the Dwarves as allegorical of some human population?" etc.). It seems to me "dragon cooties" is about as good a plot motor as "inherent racial vice." Not as good as "we got cheated of being heroes in our own reconquest story"--but then neither Tolkien nor Jackson thought of that one.
posted by yoink at 10:11 AM on January 21, 2015 [9 favorites]


I grew up on the Hobbit and LOTR books. I adore the LOTR movies and have watched the extended versions and various DVD featurettes. However, multiple other people I know who loved those have told me not to watch the Hobbit movies. I asked "what about free on Netflix, knowing they aren't that great?" and they were all like ... "meh".

So should I even bother? My brother reminded me of his least favorite bit of LOTR which was the dumb thing where Legolas surfs down the oliphant and stuff, and said basically "Remember that? The Hobbit movies have a lot more of that. They're more like a video game, plus things look much more fakey than LOTR in general."
posted by freecellwizard at 10:12 AM on January 21, 2015


I watched tBotFA last month out of sense of duty (being from NZ) but I quite enjoyed it. The Hobbit films as a whole are ridiculously padded and stupidly violent for what should be a magical tale for kids, but they were made with care that shows on screen. I even liked the elf/dwarf love story subplot, which at least gave some of the other characters something to do.

That said, I do agree with most of the changes noted in the blog post. All the extra stuff with Gandalf's side quest needed to be cut from the films, especially that interdepartmental staff (ha) meeting at Rivendell during the first film.

The subplot about the vengeful Orcs chasing the dwarfs across Middle Earth was OK, but I would have cut out 90% of the needless dialog during those scenes. "We are evil, lets kill those guys" is all that is needed. The action scenes were well designed but by the end of the films each character had killed dozens of orcs each, occasionally almost by accident, which diminished any threat that they posed.

In fact, I would have removed most of the individual fights in the last film. Make it all about the 5 armies clashing on the field. I can't remember even seeing the end of the battle in the film, it is just assumed that the good guys win after Thorin takes out the leader, battle-droid style.

(Also, the Orcs were incredibly stupid. They had those giant worms that allowed them to pop up their troops on the battlefield unexpectedly. Why didn't they just tunnel directly into the mountain, kill the 13 dwarfs from behind and watch from inside as everyone else fought, then mop up the mess afterwards)
posted by AndrewStephens at 10:13 AM on January 21, 2015


making the dragon too clumsy to catch a perfectly visible fat little hobbit

Bilbo does use his ring to escape Smaug in the film. And the reason we don't have him in the ring the whole time he talks with Smaug is A) Smaug talking to a disembodied voice is a poor visual, B) Smaug talking to flamey-wavey-ring-o-vision Bilbo p.o.v. is all wrong for the quiet contest-of-wits nature of the dialogue and C) with the weight of LOTR mythology pressing on the story in a way that it doesn't in the book, wearing the ring needs to be made a bit more of a move of last-resort in the film than it is in the book.
posted by yoink at 10:15 AM on January 21, 2015 [3 favorites]


it's a nice example about how Hollywood scriptwriting bozos don't actually understand how stories work anymore

I think the only metric by which the insights of "hollywood scriptwriting bozos" are being measured in the industry is box office, and by that metric they clearly did, in fact, know how the story should work. You or I might not have been pleased (though, heck, it appears we both paid our money at the box office for all our reservations), but clearly the story "worked" for the vast majority of the audience.

It's not clear to me that a single movie that really accurately conveyed the tone and narrative of the book would have "worked" as well for anything like as many people as Jackson's films did.
posted by yoink at 10:18 AM on January 21, 2015


I mostly agree with mightygodking, except about the gold sequence. Mainly because no one actually acts like it's molten gold rather than gold-colored water, so it makes it hard to see it as any kind of threat to the dragon.

I enjoy hanging around in middle-earth, so I was fine with most of the movies. To me, the big issues would have been solved by making them two movies instead of three, and by rethinking the Battle of Five Armies. I think there's plenty of incident and story in the original book to fill up two movies, three was way overstretching it. Put them in two, and you can remove the gold sequence and snip out some more overstretched bits (Alfrid could have been way cut down, for example. )

The bigger weakness, though, is that the BOFA really wasn't that well done. It's very incoherent overall, and even individual threads could have been done better. I like Tauriel in the second movie, but in the third she basically becomes an object for the two guys to alternately rescue. And it didn't help that Bard's son is ninja boy while the daughters, even the elder, are again victims to be chased around and rescued. There's like 5 seconds where the women say 'oh, yeah, we should fight', but we never see much result from that.

Having Legolas in the movie is fine, he logically would have been there. Having him basically be a videogame character for most of the movie (the worst bit being the 'running up the falling steps' scene), not so much. Thorin and co's charge was kind of underbaked, and you don't really have much of a sense of the overall ebb and flow of the battle to have it feel triumphant then beleaguered. And if you are going to bother to set up Beorn in the previous movie, why on earth would you waste him on a 2 second distance shot of him being dropped in by an eagle?
posted by tavella at 10:18 AM on January 21, 2015 [2 favorites]


I think the reason they went with "Dragon cooties" is because they didn't want the "Dwarves, eh, they're lovable but sooooooooo greedy" racial essentialism of the book.

But you don't need either of them. Thorin's desire for the Arkenstone as an iconic treasure of his people ("I value it above a river of gold.") is perfectly understandable -- so much so they ascribe the same motivation to the Elf-King for wanting some pretty bauble or other. And Thorin's resistance to negotiating with an armed party at his doorstep is understandable when one understands that he's holding out for Dain's reinforcements. The tragedy of the Battle of the Armies of Elves, Men and Dwarves -- and what makes it satisfying that it's averted -- is that each side seems reasonable from their own point of view, and thanks to Bilbo's nocturnal visit to the human camp, we get to know that.

All those points can be communicated by the very dialogue Tolkien supplied, without needing to belabor the point by having Thorin hog the screen time issuing death threats against his kin or sinking in a symbolic river of molten gold.
posted by Gelatin at 10:21 AM on January 21, 2015 [2 favorites]


The best things about The Hobbit Trilogy are the soundtracks.
posted by Fizz at 10:21 AM on January 21, 2015 [1 favorite]


the worst bit being the 'running up the falling steps' scene

It was, I think, the only moment in the whole film where I laughed out loud.

The tragedy of the Battle of the Armies of Elves, Men and Dwarves -- and what makes it satisfying that it's averted -- is that each side seems reasonable from their own point of view, and thanks to Bilbo's nocturnal visit to the human camp, we get to know that


But, again, that's a really interesting story--but not at all Tolkien's story. Tolkien doesn't for one second think that the dwarves are behaving reasonably. That's the whole point of Thorin's death scene and dying apology to Bilbo. It's a "you were right, we were wrong--we succumbed to the madness of greed" moment.

So, again, you're sketching an interesting story, but if the criticism is about Jackson deviating from Tolkien's original narrative then what you propose is a much greater deviation than what Jackson provided (on that issue).
posted by yoink at 10:27 AM on January 21, 2015 [1 favorite]


I think the only metric by which the insights of "hollywood scriptwriting bozos" are being measured in the industry is box office, and by that metric they clearly did, in fact, know how the story should work.

Try and watch "John Carter, of Mars" and then read "A Princess of Mars." You read the book and think, huh this would work pretty well as a movie if you just strip out all of the outrageous racism but then the movie, looks great, but has a script which is, by turns insulting, boring and incomprehensible, just like the Hobbit.
posted by ennui.bz at 10:30 AM on January 21, 2015


So should I even bother?

Given that everyone you know has already told you "no," it seems obvious you just want someone to tell you "yes". So, from someone who gave up after the first one, yes, go for it.
posted by Steely-eyed Missile Man at 10:32 AM on January 21, 2015


you know it's because someone decided in a script committee meeting that the audience needed a symbolic figure to "understand" the orcs. it's a nice example about how Hollywood scriptwriting bozos don't actually understand how stories work anymore, where "cynicism" about the audience is just a mask for incompetence.
posted by ennui.bz at 1:05 PM on January 21


I didn't see the last two Hobbit films, but this trend has irritated me for YEARS. The most egregious example I can think of is "28 Days Later" vs "28 Weeks Later", where 'Days' (a British production) showcased the horror of an indiscriminate epidemic, and the way the various humans carved out survival in spite of it, etc. Whereas "Weeks" (an American production) established Protagonist's Dad Zombie as 'the villain' with an oddly singular quest that none of the other Rage zombies shared.
posted by Uther Bentrazor at 10:33 AM on January 21, 2015 [3 favorites]


why is The Hobbit the book that launched a thousand RPGs?

Because it's a prequel to the Lord of the Rings, which is actually the book that launched all those RPGs.

Look, you sketch a really lovely story, there's just nothing in the book to suggest that this is what Tolkien had in mind. Quote me one line, anywhere, that shows Thorin or any other dwarf suggesting anger, bafflement or disappointment that they didn't get to be the heroes they hoped to be. Seriously, if you're going to argue that this is the major theme of the book and the major plot driver of the narrative of the last third of the book there really needs to be some textual locus to support that. I can quote you endless passages about Dwarf greed. I can give you the nice bright "THIS IS THE THEME YOU DUMMIES" moment from Thorin's death, for example: "If more of us valued food and cheer and song above hoarded gold, it would be a merrier world." Or, Gandalf, adding a bright flashing light to that: "Thorin did not live to enjoy his triumph or his treasure. Pride and greed overcame him in spite of my warning."

Can you give me even one moment where someone says "we have been cheated of our victory!"? Can you even give me one moment where the Dwarves suggest that they want a heroic struggle against the monster? They hire Bilbo as a thief after all. Their rhetoric is never that of "now, at last, we'll face the Big Boss and take him down!"
posted by yoink at 10:36 AM on January 21, 2015 [2 favorites]


Try and watch "John Carter, of Mars" and then read "A Princess of Mars." You read the book and think, huh this would work pretty well as a movie if you just strip out all of the outrageous racism but then the movie, looks great, but has a script which is, by turns insulting, boring and incomprehensible, just like the Hobbit.

But John Carter of Mars bombed at the box office. The Hobbit films didn't.
posted by yoink at 10:37 AM on January 21, 2015


(Also, the Orcs were incredibly stupid. They had those giant worms that allowed them to pop up their troops on the battlefield unexpectedly. Why didn't they just tunnel directly into the mountain, kill the 13 dwarfs from behind and watch from inside as everyone else fought, then mop up the mess afterwards)

I saw the last Hobbit movie with my kids, and after the movie, when we got done with making fun of all of the goofy war animals there were in the movie: war elk, war pig, war goats, (evil) war bats/pterodactyls, my youngest said: "dad, the orc's clearly weren't bred for war, they had no chance against the elves and dwarves."
posted by ennui.bz at 10:39 AM on January 21, 2015 [5 favorites]


mightygodking (FTFY):

I know everybody loves to hate on the Hobbit trilogy because.

Everything else is cutting down stuff that's mostly ... kneejerk Dwarves

Hard choices.

Elves ... bo ... to ... x

Unexpected And Back Again.
posted by dances_with_sneetches at 10:42 AM on January 21, 2015 [4 favorites]


i applaud this use of editing, sneetches
posted by mightygodking at 10:44 AM on January 21, 2015 [2 favorites]


Whoops, just went and consulted my copy of the Hobbit and I realize that one of the quotations I gave above (the Gandalf one) isn't from the book. So scratch that. But it still remains that Dwarf gold-lust is a constant leitmotiv in the book, whereas, so far as I can tell, Dwarf heroic-deed-lust is unmentioned.

One interesting thing I did stumble across, the "dragon cooties" are actually mentioned in the book, though not, as far as I could tell, in connection directly with Thorin:
The old Master had come to a bad end. Bard had given him much gold for the help of the Lake-people, but being of the kind that easily catches such disease he fell under the dragon-sickness, and took most of the gold and fled with it, and died of starvation in the Waste, deserted by his companions.
So Jackson definitely didn't make up the idea of "dragon sickness."
posted by yoink at 10:53 AM on January 21, 2015 [2 favorites]


...in fact, in a proper cut of the movie, the barrel ride, in which Bilbo, having no one to seal him in a barrel, leaps onto one at the last minute, and so alone is able to admire the scenery as they float down the River Running, could be a moment of quiet reflection between major sequences, just like it is in the book.

I don't know if you could do that by just cutting and splicing whatever they have on film, but yes. That is exactly the sort of thing it needs more of, this movie Hobbit. More quiet moments. More floating down the river, admiring the scenery, riding or walking along the trail, setting up camp, singing songs, keeping watch, et cetera. Obviously you can't make a movie out of only that stuff, but it was so memorable in the book (albeit in a fairly vague way for me after so many years) and so frustratingly absent in the two of the movies I've seen. Especially when they got to Mirkwood and it was just straight into the non-stop! action! and! drama! with no time taken to set the proper mood for the forest path that was so dark and perilous in my childhood imagination.
posted by sfenders at 11:10 AM on January 21, 2015 [6 favorites]


I know everybody loves to hate on the Hobbit trilogy because it really was needless to make it into a trilogy, but a lot of people hating on it skip over the bit that cutting the trilogy down to a short running time involves cutting out a lot of fun movie stuff.

Yeah, very much agreed. I haven't seen the third one yet, but I had a blast at the first two Hobbit movies. They have barely a family resemblance to the books, but they're marvelously fun Hollywood action movies, jammed with groovy sequences like, yes, the action-packed barrel chase. Unlike LoTR, it's not actually *better* than the books– The Hobbit, unlike Lord Of The Rings, is pretty well-written– but it's a good time.
posted by ThatFuzzyBastard at 11:12 AM on January 21, 2015


so alone is able to admire the scenery as they float down the River Running,

This thread is interesting as evidence of how we all kind of reinvent the books we read. I just went and re-read the barrel sequence in the book. There's no "admiring the scenery." There's no quiet contemplation. First there's a kind of desperate struggle in which Frodo fears he'll drown because he can't get on top of a barrel and in which he's very worried about the safety of the dwarves who are sealed in their barrels and may be drowning for all he knows. Then when he finally manages to get on top of a barrel he's in a constant struggle to try to keep in place and he's wet and miserable.

It certainly isn't the rock-em, sock-em action scene Jackson turns it into, but it's also not a quiet, bucolic moment of peaceful reflection, either.
posted by yoink at 11:28 AM on January 21, 2015 [6 favorites]


the action-packed barrel chase

I seriously must have seen a different movie from some of you, because this scene was one of the most excruciatingly boring sequences I've ever seen on film.
posted by dialetheia at 11:31 AM on January 21, 2015 [4 favorites]


The rock giants in the first movie need to go. They only exist as a passing mention in the book - such a small mention that I'm pretty sure I'm not the only one who didn't remember them at all and was completely perplexed by this 10-minute sequence of battling boulders.
posted by dnash at 11:33 AM on January 21, 2015 [2 favorites]


Try and watch "John Carter, of Mars" and then read "A Princess of Mars." You read the book and think, huh this would work pretty well as a movie if you just strip out all of the outrageous racism but then the movie, looks great, but has a script which is, by turns insulting, boring and incomprehensible, just like the Hobbit.

It's a digression, but I actually managed to enjoy "Disney's John Carter", as it appeared to be marketed in the US, but it took an effort. Unfortunately a recut would only fix a little of it. What it needed was:

* Reverse their bewildering decision about the name. "John Carter of Mars" would have actually signified something for moviegoers.
* Tone down the boinginess by about two-thirds. It was ridiculous. In the books he was preternaturally strong and could make amazing leaps, but this was beyond cartoonish.
* Lose about half the Thark scenes, and all of the somebody being somebody else's father. It didn't work and they didn't manage to make us care.
* Recast Dejah Thoris. She looked okay but the acting wasn't there.
posted by George_Spiggott at 11:45 AM on January 21, 2015


Speaking of reinventing the books we read, how did I manage to turn Bilbo into Frodo in recounting the barrel scene? Anyway, neither Frodo nor Bilbo get to enjoy any scenery in that sequence.
posted by yoink at 11:53 AM on January 21, 2015


I just went and re-read the barrel sequence in the book. There's no "admiring the scenery."

Okay, I had to go find the book... There is in fact a page or two of gentle floating down the river, probably just after the bit you read, which does absolutely include some sight-seeing, and it's of not much less length than the barrel escape itself:
The day grew lighter and warmer as they floated along. After a while the river rounded a steep shoulder of land that came down upon their left. Under its rocky feet like an inland cliff the deepest stream had flowed lapping and bubbling. Suddenly the cliff fell away. The shores sank. The trees ended. Then Bilbo saw a sight: The lands opened wide about him, filled with the waters of the river which broke up and wandered in a hundred winding courses, or halted in marshes and pools dotted with isles on every side: but still a strong water flowed on steadily through the midst. And far away, its dark head in a torn cloud, there loomed the Mountain! Its nearest neighbours to the North-East and the tumbled land that joined it to them could not be seen. All alone it rose and looked across the marshes to the forest. The Lonely Mountain! Bilbo had come far and through many adventures to see it, and now he did not like the look of it in the least.

As he listened to the talk of the raftmen and pieced together the scraps of information
they let fall, he soon realized that he was very fortunate ever to have seen it at all, even
from this distance. ...
There follows much description of road and riverbank maintenance, shadowy traditions, floods and rains of the past, marshes and bogs, mountain-shadowed plains, the river going on and on for ever, rocky shores, wandering waters, the lake with wide mouth and clifflike gates, twinkling stars, waters hurrying to unknown lands, distant roar of waterfalls, and then finally they get to the town.
posted by sfenders at 12:05 PM on January 21, 2015 [9 favorites]


Also, there's this bit:
The sun had set when turning with another sweep towards the East the forest-river rushed into the Long Lake. There it had a wide mouth with stony clifflike gates at either side whose feet were piled with shingles. The Long Lake! Bilbo had never imagined that any water that was not the sea could look so big. It was so wide that the opposite shores looked small and far, but it was so long that its northerly end, which pointed towards the Mountain, could not be seen at all. Only from the map did Bilbo know that away up there, where the stars of the Wain were already twinkling, the Running River came down into the lake from Dale and with the Forest River filled with deep waters what must once have been a great deep rocky valley. At the southern end the doubled waters poured out again over high waterfalls and ran away hurriedly to unknown lands. In the still evening air the noise of the falls could be heard like a distant roar.
posted by Atom Eyes at 12:08 PM on January 21, 2015 [2 favorites]


I can't help but wonder how fast the cease and desist letter will come from Hollywood for this. Despite that, bravo to the editor for taking aim at a bloated mess. I love these movies but lord, they do have problems. That bit with Legolas climbing the stairs was worthy of Transformers.
posted by Ber at 12:17 PM on January 21, 2015


There is in fact a page or two of gentle floating down the river,

O.K., fair enough--I failed to carry on to the ensuing chapter after they'd made it to the river bank and been collected up by the men. But as the "he did not like the look of it in the least" bit suggests, it's hardly a moment of idyll for Bilbo. He's still anxious about the fate of the dwarves, and anxious about the possibility of discovery, and unsure what he'll do when they arrive. Tolkien wants us to be kinda impressed by the scenery, but Bilbo's really not in the mood.
posted by yoink at 12:23 PM on January 21, 2015 [1 favorite]


The rock giants in the first movie need to go. They only exist as a passing mention in the book - such a small mention that I'm pretty sure I'm not the only one who didn't remember them at all and was completely perplexed by this 10-minute sequence of battling boulders.

You're not alone. The mention is in fact so brief (and is cast as a game, not a battle) that I always remembered it as just a bit of poetic license on the part of Bilbo, who after all could hardly be expected to be familiar with giants of any kind, let alone to so casually glance over their antics. I am still halfway convinced that it was nothing more than a momentary flight of fancy on his part and not something he actually witnessed at all.
posted by Steely-eyed Missile Man at 12:30 PM on January 21, 2015 [6 favorites]


Mightygodking is speaking great wisdom; which is only to be expected given his status as the earthly avatar of Zangorothrangnax, Lord of the Sky-Vaults.

I think there's an easy disconnect between LOTR and the Hobbit where you compare page lengths and movie lengths and do that nerdy spluttering sound.

But seriously, people, like half of Lord of the Rings is landscape description. In terms of actual incident the books stack up much more closely than you'd think. A 90 minute Hobbit movie that didn't make major cuts to key events in the book would just be a blur. 4 hours feels about right; maybe a little longer.

And any cut needs to keep that wonderful shot of Bilbo and Gandalf at the end of the third movie, where they just ... sit.
posted by Sebmojo at 12:53 PM on January 21, 2015 [1 favorite]


The Smaug action sequence in the second movie is fun and exciting

I'm not sure if we saw different movies, or if we inhabit different universes.

The movies clearly did well and made people a ton of money, which is great. But at the same time they are such objectively terrible moves, other than having a fairly constant stream of loud noises and action scenes, that their commercial success is kind of fascinating in a depressing kind of way.
posted by Dip Flash at 1:10 PM on January 21, 2015 [1 favorite]


"Nerdy spluttering sound?" Why do people have to do this? It's the Argument from I'm Cooler Than You.

As an aside, "fun" is pretty meaningless as a descriptor, especially if you and your interlocutor have no history of finding the same things fun together.
posted by Steely-eyed Missile Man at 1:26 PM on January 21, 2015 [2 favorites]


Well, I'm a nerd myself so I speak from lived experience my friend. I'm just saying its deployment in this case is on the less essential side of the dial since in my view it is not as based on factual reality as it should be.
posted by Sebmojo at 1:29 PM on January 21, 2015


On the subject of two/three Hobbit films, it occurs to me that The Hobbit is actually the mooted two film series, just given the Harry Potter/Hunger Games treatment of splitting the final film in two (sorry, cleaving in twain).
posted by comealongpole at 2:34 PM on January 21, 2015


If you cut the barrel scene I'd be forced to reenact it with crude hand puppets in front of a green table cloth and a consumer grade video camera, which is how they did the original, judging from the results.
posted by obiwanwasabi at 3:04 PM on January 21, 2015


I thought the barrels (and everything to do with Legolas) was hilarious. He's Bat-Elf.

I mean hell, they do the thing where he gets a drop of blood from fighting Mogsplog or w/e his name is and wipes it off then looks grimly at the fleeing orc with Orlando Bloom Expression #2b (narrowed eyes, furrowed brow). It's a completely conscious pisstake and it's funny.
posted by Sebmojo at 3:13 PM on January 21, 2015 [1 favorite]


I'd like a "book cut" of the movies where they try and follow the plot of the book as carefully as possible. I hope that the full Beorn introduction exists somewhere, for example, so it can be edited in.
posted by caphector at 3:37 PM on January 21, 2015


It's in the extended cut, and it's pretty well done imo.
posted by Sebmojo at 3:46 PM on January 21, 2015


> "dad, the orc's clearly weren't bred for war, they had no chance against the elves and dwarves."

Favourited for this most perceptive remark. For of course, orcs weren't originally bred for war, they were elves ruined by Morgoth in mockery of the elves. Having made them, he used them as cheap cannon fodder in his war on the elves, but that was not their purpose. I pity the orcs more than the elves. The tragedy of the orcs overshadows the tragedy of the elves in my mind, for Tolkien offers them no redemption while the world lasts. The elves can sail into the west: the orcs have no such recourse. The best they can hope for is oblivion.
All those of the Quendi who came into the hands of Melkor, ere Utumno was broken, were put there in prison, and by slow arts of cruelty were corrupted and enslaved; and thus did Melkor breed the hideous race of the Orcs in envy and mockery of the Elves, of whom they were afterwards the bitterest foes ... And deep in their dark hearts the Orcs loathed the Master whom they served in fear, the maker only of their misery. This it may be was the vilest deed of Melkor, and the most hateful to Ilúvatar.
After seeing the disappointing first two movies, my wife and I vowed last year that we would not see TBoFA in the theatre because it wasn't worth paying to see it, but in the end we did see it. Last year our landlord gave us some luxury movie vouchers that were going to expire on 31 Dec, and by the time we remembered them the only thing we could use them on at the only theatre within easy walking distance was TBoFA. So we saw it for free. Worth every cent!

I don't torrent and of course the link is dead, so I haven't seen the short version FPP'd here, but I don't think that any cut could salvage the Jackson Hobbit. His cancerous innovations replaced too much of the book's tissue.
posted by Autumn Leaf at 3:46 PM on January 21, 2015 [2 favorites]


I'm waiting for the Wes Anderson version.
posted by skippyhacker at 3:50 PM on January 21, 2015


I am still halfway convinced that it was nothing more than a momentary flight of fancy on his part and not something he actually witnessed at all.

I suspect that the concept of an unreliable narrator is something that is disappearing from the general consciousness.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 3:58 PM on January 21, 2015 [1 favorite]


I suspect that the concept of an unreliable narrator is something that is disappearing from the general consciousness

Although Bilbo's not the narrator of The Hobbit. It's a third-person account.
posted by yoink at 4:03 PM on January 21, 2015


Well, he wrote it in the third person, but in the Tolkien mythology he is understood to have written it, just as Frodo later turns his adventures into LotR.
posted by gilrain at 4:09 PM on January 21, 2015 [2 favorites]


While people have tried to retcon them later to make Lord of the Rings better fit with The Hobbit, it's clear that giants are real and fairly unexceptional members of the Middle-earth bestiary in The Hobbit. Thorin notes the giants as well verbally:

When he peeped out in the lightning-flashes, he saw that across the valley the stone-giants were out, and were hurling rocks at one another for a game, and catching them, and tossing them down into the darkness where they smashed among the trees far below, or splintered into little bits with a bang. ... They could hear the giants guffawing and shouting all over the mountainsides. “This won’t do at all!” said Thorin. “If we don’t get blown off, or drowned, or struck by lightning, we shall be picked up by some giant and kicked sky-high for a football.

And Gandalf contemplates getting one of the nicer ones to give him a hand with blocking the new entrance to the goblin tunnels:

Evidently people had given up going that way, and the goblins must have opened their new entrance at the top of the pass the dwarves had taken, quite recently, because it had been found quite safe up to now. “I must see if I can’t find a more or less decent giant to block it up again,” said Gandalf, “or soon there will be no getting over the mountains at all.”

If you are trying really hard I suppose you could argue that Thorin was just being metaphorical, but they are in a serious situation when Gandalf is talking, and there is no reason for him to suddenly make weird jokes about non-existant giants.
posted by tavella at 4:16 PM on January 21, 2015 [2 favorites]


Well, he wrote it in the third person, but in the Tolkien mythology he is understood to have written it

The author =/= the narrator (which is also to leave aside the whole complicated issue of how much that's just a giant retcon which is essentially irrelevant to any reader of the book who isn't choosing to be steeped in Tolkien's paratextual fantasy world). An unreliable narrator is a device that is inherent to the text itself (i.e., we are given internal clues that the narrator's p.o.v. is in some way biased or tendentious). A claim that an author is unreliable because of something we know about them outside the world of the text is something else again.
posted by yoink at 4:30 PM on January 21, 2015


In fact, Bilbo's less surprised to see giants than he was to see the trolls. He casually says 'the stone-giants were out', as you might say of some familiar expected phenomenon, while for the trolls:

They were trolls. Obviously trolls. Even Bilbo, in spite of his sheltered life, could see that: from the great heavy faces of them, and their size, and the shape of their legs, not to mention their language, which was not drawing-room fashion at all, at all.

which suggests that either even in the sheltered Shire giants come close enough to be known, or that they've seen them previously on the trip, often enough for them to become expected and only alarming in this case because they are playing a violent game where the Fellowship has to pass.
posted by tavella at 4:35 PM on January 21, 2015


Ah, yea, tavella, there you go. Does seem weird for him to be so blase about giants. Maybe they are just generally better natured than trolls and so more well known to civilized folk.
posted by Steely-eyed Missile Man at 4:38 PM on January 21, 2015


Well, the trolls ate every human they could get their hands on, and Gandalf thinks he can convince a giant to do him a fairly laborious favor, so that suggests that giants aren't Morgoth-creatures like dragons and trolls but a natural race with a normal mix of good and bad. Perhaps the geological equivalent of Ents, guardians of hills and mountains rather than forests.
posted by tavella at 4:44 PM on January 21, 2015


When writing LotR, Tolkien thought of stone giants as something on a par with the Ents, whereas trolls were unnatural:
Difference between trolls - stone inhabited by goblin-spirit, stone-giants, and the 'tree-folk'. [Added in ink: Ents.]

(The History of Middle-Earth Volume 7, The Treason of Isengard, Chapter 22: "Treebeard")
Elsewhere he is less clear about the distinction between trolls and stone-giants, but his original thinking seems to have been that the stone-giants were the stone counterparts of ents, but, in tribute to their origin, even slower in thought and probably not as smart.

Having Gandalf think of getting a friendly giant to block up the goblin gate, something you would not expect a troll to accede to, is quite reasonable in context.

FWIW, there is a clear pairing of dwarves/stone-giants and elves/Ents in Tolkien's mind. In Quenta Silmarillion Chapter 2, he explains the origin of the Ents as trees inhabited by spirits. The stone-giants might be the equivalent for rocks, with trolls being made in mockery of them. Which raises the question, why are there no evil counterparts to Ents?
posted by Autumn Leaf at 5:38 PM on January 21, 2015 [1 favorite]


Which raises the question, why are there no evil counterparts to Ents?

Don't forget Old Man Willow!
posted by Shmuel510 at 5:57 PM on January 21, 2015


LOL, I believe Old Man Willow was just a tree that had woken up, although it's not impossible that he was an Ent that had become treeish. At any rate, unlike orcs and trolls, OMW was not obviously a product of Morgoth's meddling.
‘When that happens to a tree, you find that some have bad hearts. Nothing to do with their wood: I do not mean that. Why, I knew some good old willows down the Entwash, gone long ago, alas! They were quite hollow, indeed they were falling all to pieces, but as quiet and sweet-spoken as a young leaf. And then there are some trees in the valleys under the mountains, sound as a bell, and bad right through. That sort of thing seems to spread. There used to be some very dangerous parts in this country. There are still some very black patches.’
I was charmed in LotR when, having obliterated Bombadil and the Old Forest (boo), Jackson at least managed to insert Old Man Willow into Fangorn instead. I wish he'd had more such moments of inspiration in The Hobbit.

IMAO, one sequence that would have been great cinematically was the party's adventures in Mirkwood. Bombur, the stream and the boat. The Elvish picnics. Instead all that got cut down to just the spiders, to make room for Jacksonesque innovations that added nothing to the story. Sigh.
posted by Autumn Leaf at 6:44 PM on January 21, 2015 [3 favorites]


They had those giant worms that allowed them to pop up their troops on the battlefield unexpectedly. Why didn't they just tunnel directly into the mountain, kill the 13 dwarfs from behind and watch from inside as everyone else fought, then mop up the mess afterwards?

They didn't have Starcraft back then so Azog hadn't learned how to micro.
posted by sneebler at 6:50 PM on January 21, 2015 [1 favorite]


why are there no evil counterparts to Ents?

There are. "Maybe you have heard of Trolls? They are mighty strong. But Trolls are only counterfeits, made by the Enemy in the Great Darkness, in mockery of Ents, as Orcs were of Elves" [Treebeard, LotR:TTT Ch. 4 "Treebeard"].

There's a quite horrible possibility that the Entwives were captured by Sauron in the Second Age and turned into a new breed of trolls. Textual basis:

The Entwives disappeared, clearly.

Their former gardens are the Brown Lands north of Mordor and east of the river Anduin. "All the gardens of the Entwives are wasted: Men call them the Brown Lands now" [Treebeard, LotR:TTT Ch. 4 "Treebeard"] They were laid waste by the end of the Second Age: "I remember it was long ago -- in the time of the war between Sauron and the Men of the Sea … We crossed over Anduin and came to [the Entwives'] land; but we found a desert: it was all burned and uprooted, for war had passed over it" [Treebeard, LotR:TTT Ch. 4 "Treebeard"] The history of the region isn't well known: "What pestilence or war or evil deed of the Enemy had so blasted all that region even Aragorn could not tell" [LotR:FotR Ch. 9 "The Great River"]

Finally, there's a mention of the appearance of a new breed of Trolls: "But at the end of the Third Age a troll-race not before seen appeared in southern Mirkwood and in the mountain borders of Mordor. … That Sauron bred them none doubted, though from what stock was not known. … Unlike the older race of the Twilight they could endure the Sun, so long as the will of Sauron held sway over them." [LotR Appendix F, section I "Trolls"]

It looks mighty like Sauron captured the Entwives, then emulated his master and turned them into Trolls. If so, this is a good candidate for most horrific thing Sauron ever did.
posted by kadonoishi at 7:04 PM on January 21, 2015 [5 favorites]


The item is not available due to issues with the item's content.

Well, that didn't last long. I guess it will turn up on some torrent site eventually.
posted by Ber at 7:14 PM on January 21, 2015


I still say Jackson didn't so much omit the part about Tom Bombadil as save it for a series of nine three-hour films of its own.
posted by George_Spiggott at 7:18 PM on January 21, 2015 [4 favorites]


Peter Jackson's The Adventures of Tom Bombadil? Oh noes!

Part I: A Merry Fellow.

Part II: Along the Withywindle.

Part III: Bombadil Sings the Blues. ("Errantry" and "Little Princess Mee", "The Sea-Bell" and "The last Ship")

Part IV: The Man in the Moon. ("Too Late" and "Too Soon")

Part V: Trolls. ("The Stone Troll" and "Perry-The-Winkle")

Part VI: Bombadil By Midnight. ("The Mewlips")

Part VII: Bombadil Goes South ("Oliphaunt" and "Fastitocalon")

Part VIII: Bombadil's Friends ("The Cat")

Part IX: Hoarders. ("Shadow-Bride" and "The Hoard")
posted by Autumn Leaf at 7:35 PM on January 21, 2015 [2 favorites]


haha! those actually do deserve to be split up into different movies. Dude's been around for a while.
posted by So You're Saying These Are Pants? at 8:09 PM on January 21, 2015


mightygodking: "I want to take a crack at editing down the trilogy myself when the final Extended Edition comes out..." And I will be first in line to watch the fruits of your labor. This is a wonderful time to be a film fan/student/creator. Even when our heroes jump the shark, fun and art can be made from it.
posted by dylanjames at 8:50 PM on January 21, 2015 [1 favorite]


While I definitely don't enjoy the Hobbit movies as much as the LOTR trilogy for various reasons, I don't dislike them quite as much as some. I do think it's sad that we never got the two-movies-directed-by-Del-Toro project that they were intending to do for a while before it got bogged down in development hell. The finished product isn't anywhere near Star Wars prequel bad though, at least for my tastes. In fact, that's why I think I'm probably more inclined to watch (or at least skim the changelogs of) fan edits of this trilogy than the Star Wars ones. I consider Lucas' prequels basically unsalvageable given what a prospective editor has to work with, not so with these.

And having had this one on as background noise tonight... This is a pretty decent edit all things considered. It'll be interesting to see what people do with what they've got to work with once the extended edition of the third actual movie is out.

This hews a lot closer to my memory of the book in any case. There are some things that happen in it rather suddenly/arbitrarily because either that's how they happen in the book (as best as I can recall) or because the movie set things up differently and the setup got axed/changed around.

The most important thing that I'm glad they didn't touch: Stephen Colbert's cameo as a spy in Laketown.
posted by sparkletone at 4:06 AM on January 22, 2015 [2 favorites]


I came in here because I heard some wise guy was shooting off their mouth about Tom Bombadil, and I'm glad to see the tide turning here at the end. I don't know how anyone can dislike that character. He's the soul of Middle Earth. I know a lot of critics (quite reasonably) read him as symbolic of the wild, the unresolvably mysterious, whatever, and I don't necessarily disagree with that. But the main thing I see in Tom Bombadil is the goofy nonsense parents make up to keep their kids happy, and if that doesn't fit with the grave philology of the rest, it's all the more touching for it.
posted by No-sword at 4:34 AM on January 22, 2015 [1 favorite]


Bombadil is Iluvatar, obviously.

I gave up after the first Hobbit movie where they so supremely fucked up the whole 'trolls squishing us into jelly' scene. Hearing that they had Legolas being an action hero and inventing a stupid Elf/Dwarf romance (with bonus making up the Elf out of whole cloth) has pretty much guaranteed I have zero interest in seeing more.

Jackson needed someone with a ruler smacking his knuckles and saying NO.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 3:01 PM on January 22, 2015


kadonoishi: It looks mighty like Sauron captured the Entwives

I hope you're wrong. I really like the idea of taking Treebeard literally: the world is a vast place, and in their long, long lives the Ents and Entwives lost track of each other. The world is so big that lots of things are neither good or evil. Sometimes things just happen, and are tragic, so they are. For me, LOTR is an extension of William Morris' The Well at the World's End (because I read them around the same time as a young person). I still see Morris' world, and Middle Earth, as too vast to contain merely these few stories.
posted by sneebler at 5:10 PM on January 22, 2015


This appears to be a different edit that cuts things down even further.
posted by sparkletone at 6:10 PM on January 22, 2015 [1 favorite]


Hearing that they had Legolas being an action hero and inventing a stupid Elf/Dwarf romance (with bonus making up the Elf out of whole cloth) has pretty much guaranteed I have zero interest in seeing more.

Once it became clear that they were making prequels to the LotR movies loosely based on the book rather than trying to adapt The Hobbit itself including preserving the general tone and tenor of the book, I figured it was pretty pointless to get upset at any changes on the face of them.

You can't make a (somewhat) twee children's movie (whether in 2 or 3 parts) that fits together with the LotR movies and have it feel congruent or like they're set in the same world, and given the amount of money involved (and presumably attendant pressure from New Line who could really use the profits)... I think they made the right choice, even if they bungled the execution a fair amount. And it really was the execution that regularly fell flat for me. Actually showing WTF Gandalf was up to when he just randomly leaves the story for a while isn't the worst idea, for instance.

These two complaints about the elves I definitely had no trouble with. Logically, Legolas would've been present! I don't think they did anything more ridiculous with him in this series than they did in RotK. And while I don't think it quite succeeded, the elf/dwarf love triangle was a reasonable attempt to give at least one of the dwarves more to do and more of a personality while also getting at least one more woman on screen in a movie that even with Tauriel could really have used some more. I think they mishandled the end of that plot thread pretty badly in the third one after an okay set up. Tauriel goes from being a badass on roughly the same level as Legolas to a damsel in distress, sadly.

Note that the edit I just linked (which I haven't watched) says it's tried to rearrange things so that Kili is sacrificing himself for Bilbo instead. I guess we'll see how that worked out if/when I skim it.

People who want the book can just read the book. It's still there and it's not ruined! One thing this thread has me wanting to do though is revisit the Rankin/Bass animated version that I haven't seen since I was 6 or 7. Something tells me that's aged pretty hilariously. In fact it might be fun some weekend to do a pairing of the Rankin/Bass Hobbit with a skimming (or edit) of Jackson's movies, followed by a similar pairing of Bakshi's LotR with a skimming of Jackson's.
posted by sparkletone at 6:24 PM on January 22, 2015


People who want the book can just read the book.

I mean... yeah, okay. But if you're going to claim to be creating something based on something that already exists, I tend to feel you have to, like, pay some attention to the thing that already exists. Fill in the blanks with your own stuff, sure! Make egregious horseshit up out of whole cloth (e.g. Gandalf showing up where the trolls are and WIZARD MAGIC and totally ignoring that the whole point is Bilbo talking until sunrise -- echoes of 1001 Nights -- and setting up his character for dueling with Smaug) and it kind of falls totally apart.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 7:14 PM on January 22, 2015


e.g. Gandalf showing up where the trolls are and WIZARD MAGIC and totally ignoring that the whole point is Bilbo talking until sunrise

I could be flagrantly misremembering, though some Googling suggests I'm not, but I thought it was Gandalf that kept them arguing until sunrise by using ~wizard magic~ to imitate their voices? All Bilbo did was fail to pick a troll's pocket and eventually get everyone caught and stuffed in sacks or whatever. That was still very much newbie Bilbo who had a ways to go to be a decent burglar yet. Bilbo acquits himself much better when the party's captured by the elves and afterwards.

The movie does alter things a bit. The voice imitation thing is probably hard to convey clearly, much less have it go on for an extended period, and I Bilbo does some stalling for time... But the trolls not taking cover by sunrise and then Gandalf showing up and making sure via magical means that they get hit by the sunlight is near enough to the book that I'm not seeing the issue there.

(Again, assuming I'm remembering accurately. My copy of the book is, like, way over there.)
posted by sparkletone at 9:01 PM on January 22, 2015 [1 favorite]


Gandalf showing up and making sure via magical means that they get hit by the sunlight is near enough to the book that I'm not seeing the issue there.

Yeah, that is not my problem with the troll scene, which I remember being the moment where my hope of the movie living up to high expectations took its first big hit. The main problem is when the trolls say "lay down your arms, or we'll rip his off!" and the dwarves are all instantly willing to sacrifice their own lives in the hope of maybe prolonging Bilbo's for a few seconds. Why would Thorin, who later goes to the opposite extreme with "I will not risk the success of the mission for the good of one dwarf", why would he accept such a ridiculous bargain, and why would the trolls think to propose it? The Tolkien version would be difficult to film, so they make up this alternate sequence which is spoiled by badly-written hollywood cliche. It detracts slightly from the enjoyability of that scene, it totally wrecks things when they repeatedly do the same thing later on, as in the goblins and the barrel ride.
posted by sfenders at 6:05 AM on January 23, 2015 [4 favorites]


The rock giants in the first movie need to go.

You're not alone. The mention is in fact so brief (and is cast as a game, not a battle)


This is emblematic of yet another problem with Jackson: he sucks all the depth and wonder out of everything. Rock giants playing some huge, bewildering game sounds fascinating and mysterious. Rock giants beating the gravel out of each other is just the same old CGI action shit. It had to be a fight because Jackson is a hack.
posted by George_Spiggott at 2:13 PM on January 23, 2015 [1 favorite]


Yeah, the rock giants were something that would have worked gorgeously as a two-second thing in the background somewhere. Nice h/t to the book readers without adding yet more bloat to the movie.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 2:54 PM on January 23, 2015


Well, I have just watched the three hour version. It is rather obvious where the third movie begins because the video quality takes a nosedive, but it's bearable. The movie as a whole is choppy in pacing, rather like Dune, at times appearing more like a trailer than a movie. Still, it's no doubt better than sitting through 8+ hours of endless Jacksonian nonsense. Perhaps next time I will check out the 4 hour version.
posted by Steely-eyed Missile Man at 8:45 PM on January 23, 2015


I haven't gotten to the three hour one yet, but given how the four hour one felt, that doesn't surprise me. The four hour one might not be perfect but feels like a bit of a sweet spot in terms of not rushing but not getting bloated... Perhaps another point in favor of the initial two movie plan?
posted by sparkletone at 9:43 PM on January 23, 2015


Well, if it had been planned as three hours from the very beginning, I think maybe it could have worked, but the chop comes from having to assemble it from the bits and pieces of someone else's vision. Funny Puzzle could really have left out Beorn, but desire for faithfulness to the book compelled them to leave it in, I guess.
posted by Steely-eyed Missile Man at 5:44 AM on January 24, 2015


All I care about is the party elf and whether he is still in his full glory in the edit.

I want an edit where they switch him with his spiritual twin.
posted by homunculus at 2:46 PM on January 24, 2015 [1 favorite]


Oh, and I guess I should say that there was still plenty of "fun movie stuff," in my opinion. The scene where Smaug rises up and destroys Laketown really got the blood pumping. I miss the absolute menace conveyed by the wind in the opening scene (which is cut), but it is made up for fairly well by the scene of just irresistible destruction (after an eye-rolling Hollywood "here I come" line, ugh).
posted by Steely-eyed Missile Man at 8:17 AM on January 26, 2015


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