Full disclosure: I still haven’t quite forgiven Peter Jackson for the last Lord of the Rings movie, during which I had to pee really bad but didn’t want to leave because the movie was about to end. Turns out the movie wasn’t even halfway done.
He’s done things to redeem himself (King Kong vs. two T-rex’s!) and things to make it worse (King Kong ice skating?) since, but overall I don’t consider myself a huge fan, if only because he seems unable to locate and remove narrative fat.
Here’s why I didn’t enjoy the Hobbit:
1) I didn’t know it was a part one.
One book, one movie right? Wrong. Chalk this one up to my ignorance, but I wasn’t aware that this was going to be a three movie series. As a result, I was expecting a cohesive, satisfying moviegoing experience. Instead I felt, just like the movie’s adventurers, that the giant eagles had dropped me off miles from my goal, when they could just as easily have taken me all the way.
2) Narrative fat
The film’s lack of a satisfying ending makes its excess unforgivable. Ratigast the Brown’s appearance added nothing to the film except runtime. And the entire scene with the battling rock giants seems engineered partly as pure visual spectacle, and partly so Thorin Oakenshield can deliver a line questioning Bilbo’s fitness for the mission. There are more compelling and economic ways to convey such a moment, and I think here the action actually detracts from the moment’s power.
For my money Martin Freeman plays an uptight, neurotic hobbit as well as anyone could. But I still found myself scratching my head when he decides to join the adventure. I know dramatic theory dictates that character is revealed by action, but I didn’t feel like this moment was given enough cinematic weight.