Hobbitat for Huge Manatee
April 3, 2018 9:50 AM   Subscribe

Lindsay Ellis takes a look into what went down in the making of The Hobbit trilogy in her long-form retrospective review.
Part 1: A Long-Expected Autopsy
Part 2: The Battle of Five Studios
posted by Christ, what an asshole (37 comments total) 40 users marked this as a favorite
Oh man, I can't watch these now but any new Lindsay Ellis content is good news.
posted by Navelgazer at 10:05 AM on April 3, 2018 [2 favorites]

These are really great. Watched them a bit ago on Patreon and I had followed both her and FoldableHuman's (I think he did a lot of the camera work?) Twitter account when they did their trip. So, yeah, if you're interested in this watch 'em.
posted by skynxnex at 10:12 AM on April 3, 2018 [1 favorite]

As mentioned on twitter, this is confirming some tin foil hat theories floating around these movies about you know, labor issues and the health of the movie industry in general.
posted by The Whelk at 10:13 AM on April 3, 2018

This is really well done, thanks for this. Generally I find that these types of youtube deep-dives get too hung up on structure (like, if there is no third act the movie is "wrong"), but Ellis's points about character and suspense are pretty much 100% on.
posted by Think_Long at 10:37 AM on April 3, 2018 [1 favorite]

Watched the first part last night, thought it was a great analysis and I can;t wait to finish the rest tonight. It's amusing how much superfluous bullshit filled these movies.
posted by GoblinHoney at 10:52 AM on April 3, 2018

oo. Part 2 is up!

Lindsay is great & I will hear no word said against her.
posted by pharm at 11:09 AM on April 3, 2018 [2 favorites]

Before I dive in for 1hr+, what's their general take?
posted by gottabefunky at 11:09 AM on April 3, 2018

Glad this is just a two-video series and they're not being forced to stretch it out further.
posted by ckape at 11:28 AM on April 3, 2018 [27 favorites]

So, is there an explanation of /how/ the Hobbit "kind of f*ed" the New Zealand film industry as the man from BirthMoviesDeath opined?

Are we getting a part3?
posted by pharm at 11:56 AM on April 3, 2018

(I note that the first movie was Part 1/2 but Part 2 is listed as "Part 2/...")
posted by pharm at 11:58 AM on April 3, 2018

The very last frame is a "the story continues in part two three" gag
posted by Think_Long at 12:01 PM on April 3, 2018

Yeah, I'm expecting a part 3 based on the ending of part 2. Which should be pretty interesting if it is even a higher percentage of the original interviews and research in NZ.
posted by skynxnex at 12:01 PM on April 3, 2018

I've only watched the first video so far, but here are that one's numbered discussion headings:

"Part One: I can say nice things": she discusses some of the Hobbit movies' strengths
"Part Two: This is a difficult book to adapt in the best of circumstances": aspects of the tone, structure, and content of the original Hobbit book that clash with attempts to adapt it into these particular films
"Part Three: The great restructuring": how changing from two films to three at the eleventh hour introduced some unrecoverable structural problems
"Part Four: Let's keep adding things until these movies explode": how adding a lot of material to bulk it out to three films ends up undercutting the tone, characterization, stakes, etc.
"Part Five: The Hobbit is not The Lord of the Rings (but they try to turn it into The Lord of the Rings)": harm caused by the many attempts to force The Hobbit movies into the mold of the earlier LotR movies
posted by theatro at 12:06 PM on April 3, 2018 [6 favorites]

I really loved the first video, and will enjoy watching the second. I agree with her analysis... and the worst thing for me is, I felt like I saw it coming. I mean, when it was first announced, I started having Adaptation Worries (given the huge differences between the books). Then when it was split into three movies, I started having Structure Worries. But I tried to keep calm, because I'm not a huge purist, and I had a lot of trust banked up for that particular creative team.

And then The Hobbit movies turned out even worse than I had feared, in ways that were COMPLETELY PREDICTABLE, and I was both sad and embarrassed.

Thank goodness for the people who make fan edits... The Hobbit movies do have some good aspects, but there's no way I could sit through the whole trashpile again just to experience them.
posted by theatro at 12:13 PM on April 3, 2018 [5 favorites]

...the Hobbit Trilogy has nothing on the upcoming 12-part Netflix series, "Make Way for Ducklings." An epic journey into the unknown.
posted by PandaMomentum at 12:16 PM on April 3, 2018 [9 favorites]

Oh, something I forgot to mention-- I think the one issue on which I differ from her in the first video, is her implication in the "Go Set a Watchman" framing prologue that part of her negative feelings about the Hobbit movies might have stemmed from a rosier/simplified memory of the Lord of the Rings movies because she imprinted on them when she was a child and saw them through a child's eyes.

I was not a child at all when the Lord of the Rings movies were released, and I've rewatched the LotR trilogy enough (and recently enough) to feel thoroughly confident in saying that my many issues with the Hobbit movies do not come from adulthood-and-its-disappointments or any of that. It's just true that they are worse movies, and for many of the reasons she discusses.
posted by theatro at 12:18 PM on April 3, 2018 [10 favorites]

...the Hobbit Trilogy has nothing on the upcoming 12-part Netflix series, "Make Way for Ducklings." An epic journey into the unknown.

Really looking forward to Ciaran Hind's deconstruction of Officer Murphy.
posted by Abehammerb Lincoln at 12:46 PM on April 3, 2018 [1 favorite]

...the Hobbit Trilogy has nothing on the upcoming 12-part Netflix series, "Make Way for Ducklings." An epic journey into the unknown.

Episode 1: Mr. Mallard turns to a life of crime by producing and selling crystallized methamphetamine to secure his family's financial future before he dies, while navigating the dangers of the criminal world. 

Episode 2: A visiting Cuban dance troupe asks Mr. Mallard to do a number with "Little Renita Perez"—a little girl he used to dance with in Havana. Mrs. Mallard’s all for it—until she finds out that "Little Renita" isn't so "little" anymore. She takes Renita's place at the club--but Mr. Mallard switches numbers, and Mrs. Mallard is chased by a man in full voodoo garb!

Episode 3: In order to date Furley's niece, Jack must pretend that he is his fictitious brother, Austin.

Episode 4: Kack is in the brig again after getting drunk and punching Col Tigh during a game of Triad

Episode 5: Lack discovers a mysterious hatch on the island.

Episode 6: After the hit on the Money Train, the Armenian Mafia started looking for whoever
was responsible. Led by Mack, the mobsters chopped the feet of every suspect.

Episode 7: Nack tries to finally beat Gary’s Old Time Tavern in the Bar Wars, with hilarious results.

Episode 8: Ouack The one with all the ducklings

Episode 9: After impressing Don Draper with feedback and copy for the Belle Jolie account, Pack begins to get noticed. She is promoted to copywriter for the Rejuvenator account.

Episode 10: Quack Returning to a planet where he ran into some serious trouble years ago, Quack discovers that he's become a local folk legend.

Episode 11: Facing pressure from the bosses, Officer Michael (Ciaran Hinds) begins his ill-fated “Hamsterdam” experiment.

Episode 12: The Garden. It was all a dream, Bob wakes up next to Suzanne Pleshette.
posted by ActingTheGoat at 2:07 PM on April 3, 2018 [12 favorites]

I think the Hobbit as a single movie would have been either gutted or impossibly overstuffed, a lot more happens than in the equivalent number of LOTR pages, but two movies would have been great b/c you could have called them THERE and BACK AGAIN.
posted by Sebmojo at 6:21 PM on April 3, 2018 [11 favorites]

I think some of the overall viciousness of the Hobbit movies comes through in the Auralnauts video of Legolas's kill count. SOCIOPATH MODE!

It's such a far cry from the source material I had a hard time believing they filmed some of it.
posted by fifteen schnitzengruben is my limit at 6:53 PM on April 3, 2018 [1 favorite]

The background music at the beginning of part 1 sounds extremely familiar; does anyone know what it's from? It's irritating that none of the music was credited.
posted by teraflop at 10:51 PM on April 3, 2018

I slept through part 1 and never bothered to see the rest of the Hobbitses, but I always enjoy Lindsay's commentary. And in this case, Nella's nerd joy and Lindsay's rueful face in New Zealand.
posted by jenfullmoon at 5:11 AM on April 4, 2018 [1 favorite]

posted by Fleebnork at 7:21 AM on April 4, 2018

Unless you've smelled him, you can't know that for sure.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 8:38 AM on April 4, 2018 [1 favorite]


So like, Smoooooooog?
posted by Atom Eyes at 8:58 AM on April 4, 2018 [6 favorites]

It's such a far cry from the source material I had a hard time believing they filmed some of it.

Legolas and Gimil have a literal kill count which they banter jovially about in the books tbcf
posted by Sebmojo at 2:15 PM on April 4, 2018 [1 favorite]

This post should have been titled "Hobbitat for Huge Matinee" you were so close.
posted by Mr.Encyclopedia at 6:44 PM on April 4, 2018 [4 favorites]

I have a soft spot for the Hobbit films. The second and third I saw with my partner in theaters, during the first year and a bit of our relationship. I'm Icelandic and she's Finnish. In Tolkien's world the dwarves all have Icelandic names* and the elves all speak Finnish, essentially.** So I was all ready to go with a dwarf/elf love story and on some level I did, at least enough to feel warm towards the movie, while at the same time recognizing, even at the time, that it was a fundamentally flawed thread within the greater story. That said, I kinda wish Jackson would go back and do a director's cut because he must know that there are parts of the films that just don't work at all.

* Which, if memory serves, is part of the whole translation conceit Tolkien was employing and their "real" names are completely different.
** Yeah I know that the wood elves speak Sindarin which is modeled on Welsh and not Finnish-based Quenya shut up.

posted by Kattullus at 5:01 AM on April 5, 2018 [1 favorite]

Yes, I'm actually ok with the ways they expanded the story, it just needs a flensing to cut out the bits that just flat out don't work.
posted by Sebmojo at 2:58 PM on April 5, 2018

I quite liked the first one, though it wasn't up to the standard of _The Fellowship of the Ring_, the second one was okay, but the bad choices they made in the third dragged the overall value way down. I didn't mind the addition of the Kili-Tauriel romance, but the love triangle with Legolas made me roll my eyes a bit and the resolution was just so tedious in the final battle. In fact, just about everything in the final battle was tedious besides Bilbo, I though Freeman did a great job of bringing feeling to the choices Bilbo has to make there.

Also, it was seriously, seriously hurt by overuse of CGI and the physical and moral weightlessness that can bring. The stupid scenes with the liquid gold -- molten gold doesn't act like that! Legolas being turned into a video game character towards the end!
posted by tavella at 3:10 PM on April 5, 2018 [1 favorite]

Oh my god she's wearing a T-shirt from arty bees books in Wellington during the interview with the birth movies death guy why did I wait so long to watch this video
posted by Berreggnog at 8:57 AM on April 6, 2018

Part 3 is up: The Desolation of Warners.
posted by metaquarry at 4:44 AM on April 20, 2018 [5 favorites]

So to sum up:

Part 1: They were flawed movies
Part 2: that were created through a lousy creative and business process
Part 3: that made New Zealand a worse place for people who work in the film industry.

Way to go capitalism, you managed to weaponize a beloved children’s story to remove worker’s rights and protections so the studios could scratch more profit out of a movie franchise.
posted by peeedro at 10:40 AM on April 20, 2018 [8 favorites]

Her youtubes were better than the Hobbit movies, I suppose. I only watched one Hobbit movie but I'm very glad she decided to retrofit-expand to three episodes.
posted by bukvich at 1:25 PM on April 20, 2018 [1 favorite]

This video reinforces my existing belief that anyone who says a position should be categorized as an independent contractor should be immediately fired into the sun.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 6:52 AM on April 21, 2018 [5 favorites]

My key takeaway from the third episode is that no matter how cynical I was about the Hobbit trilogy, it was nowhere near cynical enough.

(Also I think I died a little inside watching Jackson parroting the company line about the actor's working for equal pay.)
posted by fifteen schnitzengruben is my limit at 7:28 PM on April 21, 2018 [3 favorites]

Good grief was that third episode depressing. The esteem I held Peter Jackson in took a huge hit. I really hope that it won’t affect me the next time I watch the Lord of the Rings films.
posted by Kattullus at 2:32 PM on April 22, 2018

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