The Hobbit: One Moviegoer’s Plea for an Intermission
Photo Courtesy of http://www.decca.com
I’m admittedly no expert, but I think that all movie directors should heed this dictum: if my backside starts to hurt not even halfway through the movie, your film is too long.
I’m well aware of the danger I face in even hinting at something slightly critical about “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey.” I can picture an angry mob of rabid J.R.R. Tolkien fiends–armed to the teeth with elf ears and plastic facsimiles of Anduril, blade of the something-something that did blah-blah in such-and-such a war (does anyone actually care?)–pounding down my dorm door, a la Frankenstein. But any self-respecting journalist must have the courage to say what no one else will, and “The Hobbit” was too darn long.
Before you whip out your copy of “The Silmarillion” and begin berating me, hear me out. Director Peter Jackson understands he has a lot of (excellent) material to cover in Tolkien’s (brilliant) novel. That was definitely the reason behind splitting the movie into three parts, and not the extra millions of dollars he’ll make. But I digress.
Let’s put it this way: If I want to see New Zealand, I’ll visit New Zealand. Sure, it’s a beautiful country, but Jackson was one sweeping landscape short of making a Morgan Freeman-narrated nature documentary. (Because Morgan Freeman narrates everything. Or at least he should.)
For me, the movie got off to a rough start. I was sincerely disturbed that Elijah Wood has not aged in 10-plus years. The guy was what, 18 when filming began? If that man is 30 today than I’m an NFL linebacker. (Disclaimer: I’m not.) And what was the deal with the lengthy, mumbled conversation between Gandalf, Agent Smith, and Queen Elizabeth I? (So I’m not the best with names.) You know, the one where Saruman randomly shows up and everyone who read the book struggles to remember if that actually happened? That scene left me with a lot of questions. (What year is it, have I graduated yet, did I get married and have children, and is my dog still alive?)
The movies had its highlights. The riddle scene between Gollum and Bilbo (practically verbatim from the book) was brilliant. The Academy needs to hand all the Oscars this year to Andy Serkis. Oh, Hugh Jackman played a tortured former convict whilst singing live? That’s nice. Andy Serkis played the cinematic equivalent of Lindsey Lohan at 65. (Think about it: they even share an obsession with other people’s jewelry. It’s creepy.)
I am assuming there were other great moments between that scene and the credits. I drifted off and then saw Bilbo hugging the grumpy dwarf (okay, that was cheap), and everyone seemed really touched, and I was wondering if I had missed the deadline to apply for AARP.
Am I going to see the next two installments? Of course. An unhealthy obsession with both dragons and Benedict Cumberbatch makes Smaug more than enough reason for me to slap my money down for more expensive naps. Peter Jackson is one sly dog. I just pray he takes pity on the circulation in my legs and throws in a good old-fashioned intermission.