Top 10 reason the Hobbit needed to be 3 movies
This post is long, just like the movies. I wanted to provide some reasons why I love these movies and support 3 films. I ask both haters and lovers to think critically about what I say and read clearly. I have watch all 15 hours of bonus features, listened to every film commentary and read the book twice a year for decades. I know what I am talking about and am not just jumping to conclusions and making assumptions because I’m on IMDB a lot and The Lord of the Rings was a masterpiece that could never be topped. I’m not here to convince you to like the movies, they aren’t for everyone. I am here to put common complaints and issues to rest. If you don’t like the films, it’s a matter of taste, not the creative content and I am going to expand that fact.
10. Shelf Consistency
Yes, a very weak and knit picky reason (which is why it is so low on the list). However, to anal retentive bastards like me, seeing 1 individual blu-ray or 2 next to a trilogy can drive a person mad. Seeing two trilogies stand proud puts my mind at ease. Even with the books, I refuse to have split up versions of LOTR on the shelf next to the hobbit. Ok, now for the more empirical and logical reasons.
9. Bilbo’s emotional and character arc.
With 3 movies, Bilbo’s character arc is much more impactful. In the first film he is nervous, unaccepted and looked down upon until we reach the climax when he is welcomed (rather than being welcome in the middle of movie 1 if it was 2 part). Desolation shows Bilbo become more resourceful and treated as more than an equal, but an essential part of the group. Five Armies shows his lack of faith in the quest and his exile from the group. Again, rather than the 2nd film showing Bilbo lose trust halfway through and rush his conflicts, we get to delve deep into the politics of why he betrays Thorin’s trust. The argument “it’s called The Hobbit and it shouldn’t focus on other characters” is a pretty weak one. The film can’t just be Bilbo reacting to things around him. Also, The Lord of the Rings (aka Sauron) is barely in the trilogy sooooooo yea, stupid argument.
8. Smaug the Great Worm
As you probably know, the scene where Bilbo confronts Smaug is without a doubt the best in the entire trilogy. A whole wonderful hour is dedicated to this meeting, and people still complain about some bits of dialogue being left out. If this was two movies (or god forbid one) his scene would have been significantly cut down if they still had to include the battle. This scene also would have been in the first half of the 2nd film, rather than the climax. There is simply no way the rest of the film would have been as captivating if they rushed Smaug and Bilbo’s discussion in the beginning.
7. After 80 years of sitting on the shelf, we only had 1 crappy animated film.
Tolkien’s first published book deserved the royal treatment. I have been reading that 300 page simple tale for 20 years next to a 1200 page masterpiece and I fully welcome a 9 hour saga from hardcore fans of the book. Defenders of the Rankin Bass version are blinded by nostalgia. I loved it as a kid but it is so damn bad. The terrible folk songs, Smaug looks like a kitty, the all short-shorts male city of laketown where no children or women are allowed, the evil green elves, and painful voice acting (aside from Gandalf and Gollum). Let us not forget these are the same people that brought us “Frodo of the nine fingers! And the ring of dooooooom!”
6. They were able to fix and flesh-out nonsensical plot lines.
People forget just how many things in the book are ridiculously glossed over. Bilbo does not leave to get in touch with his adventurous past and grow, he is forced out by Gandalf after Bilbo explicitly says no. His motivation and spirit is so much better in the movie, all he does in the book is whine about how much he hates adventure. CONSTANTLY! Not just when he is faced with conflicts within the group. The time spent on Laketown, with elves and the orcs allows their motivation for fighting a war to make more sense. From the first movie, the political tactics of each race are established and leads to payoff. In the book, the men are the only ones to have a solid reason to fight. And the granddaddy of all fleshed out plots: DOL-GULDUR! Can you imagine a movie where Gandalf leaves the movie entirely only to pop up in the end? Yes they changed the original timeline, but let’s not forget that what Gandalf does in the movie took over 500 years according to the appendices, simply because he isn’t sure about it and has other things to do… Yea, it took him 500 years to figure out that maybe evil things are going on there.
5. Fleshed out character development.
Bilbo sucks in the books. He is a whiny bastard who never wanted to be there in the first place. Bilbo is full of passion and adventurous spark in the movie, becoming a much more likeable hero than Frodo. Bard shows up randomly to kill Smaug and becomes king in the book. In the movie, we get to see things from Bard’s perspective and find out more about the corruption of Laketown. When Bard is offered a chance to be the new master, he is noble and rejects it. An amazingly bold and brilliant choice from the writers. THAT’S good character development. Thorin is also a more complex person with a well-defined arc, and dragon sickness, while cliché’, is from the books. His tale of loss, gain and loss again is much more thorough and very logical for his character. The dwarves also all have individual traits, skills and personality (unless you didn’t pay any attention). Some say they are all interchangeable, even though this is how they are in the book. “3 have blue hoods, the others have red, grey or green hoods. Ummmm…. Different colored belts too. Oh and one is fat. And none of them have any fighting skills or weapons of any kind. Thorin finds his first sword in a cave. They also make no attempt to fight Smaug.” And talk about interchangeable dialogue, Thorin mainly speaks for everyone and every line from a dwarf could be said by ANYBODY. There is absolutely zero creative thought put into the other dwarves in the books.
4. The book is also three distinct parts.
The moment it was announced as three movies, I instantly knew where each would break off. Why? Because the book clearly has 3 distinct adventure arcs. Read the last lines of the chapters coinciding with each movie and the language used does imply resolution and the start of a new section of their journey. Fun fact, Tolkien stopped writing once Smaug destroys Laketown and everything after was only written at the request of his publishers. You can tell just how rushed and last minute everything is, especially with the very short lengths of each chapter. There is a clear tonal shift at the end of the book and the 3rd film captures and represents this exceptionally well. Even the music during “The Hobbit” title card is different from the first two and is much more epic. The fact that 3 films was decided later and that Peter did not have enough time to prepare for Battle of the Five Armies is usually seen as a fault of the movies (especially when Peters “Sometimes I feel like I don’t know what the hell I’m doing” quote was taken far out of context online). However, people missed that this is exactly what Tolkien went through and it is very interesting that history repeated itself. Yes, Battle is the weakest in the trilogy, and the last 60 or so pages is the worst part of the book. Like it or not, it still captures the exact challenge and spirit from the book.
3. Two films would have had an awkward split and diminished the characters.
Sure, this story could have been told in two movies. I still prefer three but two would have been more welcome from your average blockbuster movie-goer. Some character issues and problems would have been much more amplified with two movies. We already get introduced to 13 Dwarves, Radagast and see characters from LOTR in An Unexpected Journey. If it was two movies Beorn, Bard, Master of Laketown, Legolas and Tauriel would have also been included. Contrary to popular belief, Tauriel was not added after the decision to make three (also, Viggo was never asked to be in The Hobbit, he was asked to be in a potential film connecting the Hobbit and LOTR that was never made. Plus, he said he would have done the Hobbit if it made sense for the story, which Peter and CO never attempted to write in. So stop clinging to that rumor). The first of 3 films allowed us to get to know an abundance of new characters, all of which would not be as well done in 2 movies. Desolation gave us a more gradual introduction (much like the way Gandalf introduces the Dwarves lol). Consider this as well, the climax of the first movie would have been the barrel chase sequence that ends with the mystery of “who is this shadowy figure pointing a bow?” That is weak as hell… Can you honestly say the barrel scene is good enough to be a climax instead a midway action scene?
2. One film would have been a complete cluster fudge.
Face it, one film would have been a messy hodge-podge of 35ish characters, 20 different locations and an action sequence every 10 to 15 minutes. Did you see Warcraft? Yea, it would have been exactly that. All style, no substance that only people who read the book would understand. I personally prefer my action scenes to be few and far between and actually have emotional weight, plot and buildup. Philippa Boyens mentions in the commentary that they did indeed write a single movie script that was an exact outline of the book with nothing really added. She talks about how everyone, Jackson, Del Toro and Walsh all agreed that it was very dull, paint by numbers and unengaging. People often want movie adaptations to be exactly like the book, but I feel that it often diminishes the enjoyment of the book. Take Harry Potter for example, the first two movies are always praised for how close they are to the books while the other movies left a lot out. Now while I think there are a lot of plot details that should have been in the later movies, guess which books are still the most engaging and which ones are a duller read? Yea, the first two books are not as good anymore. Chamber film also suffers a lot because it doesn’t try anything new and is basically copy pasted. Sure this opinion varies from person to person but I for one like books and movies to have separate qualities and not be the same damn thing. Jurassic Park is a perfect example of a book and movie being entertaining for different reasons.
1.Middle-Earth rules, and true fans can relish in the world and its lore.
People want to whine and complain about the audacity of three Hobbit movies. “One book into 3 movies?!?! Absurd! Absolutely terrible! OOOOOOH what has the industry become????” Even though there is a multitude of short 40 page stories adapted into two and a half hour films and 30 pages from various Batman or Spider-man comics can be adapted into two hour films. Middle-Earth has been around longer than almost every single franchise that is embedded into nerd culture, and it deserves a large saga. There are 8 Star Wars movies with countless more on the way, 9 Potter flicks with 4 more on the way, 9 Batman movies, 4 Jurassic Parks with more coming and 20+ Marvel movies that all follow the same damn structure and take absolutely no risks. And guess what? You are getting another 20 Marvel movies. The Hobbit is not for a casual audience. It is not a nicely packaged 2 hour asses in seats film for the masses. It is made by fans for fans. Yea WB and MGM for sure were in it for the money, but their greed allowed Peter to make the movies his own way, with complete creative control. This is especially true now that we have seen what WB is doing to DC by suffocating the directors and the story to catch up with Marvel. The moment these movies were announced I said that I would feel cheated and betrayed if they weren’t all 3 hours. I am a huge Tolkien fan and I am so grateful to have this trilogy on my shelf. The addition of many scenes and ideas from the appendices strengthens the movies significantly and gives people more to love about the world.
Just for fun, and to concede with all you nay-sayers, here are a few things I don’t like about the movies in no order.
1. How they ended Tauriel’s story.
First off, I have no problem with the addition of Tauriel and her role in Desolation is perfectly handled. No sense in complaining about the love triangle because the lord of the rings also has an added love triangle. Arwen is in two scenes in the book and Eowyn has a brief mention of longing for Aragorn. The drama is significantly pumped up in Towers and King so either hate both of ‘em or stop being a hypocrite. Plus, relationship issues with different races is a very frequent theme in Tolkien’s writing. He has many couples in his lore and they are all between men and female elves. Considering the strong hate elves and dwarves have, it is great to have a love story between an elf and dwarf. I am honestly surprised Tolkien never thought of it.
However, Tauriel should have died when she grabbed Bolg by the neck and tried to throw him off, or died in some other way. It would have been almost Shakespearean if Kili and Tauriel died separately from one another without meeting again. Rather than your average “my lover is dead, I’m sad” scene at the end.
2. Digital Cameras.
If I could change one thing about the Hobbit, it would be to shoot it on film. Not only does it provide a better aesthetic, but 35mm allows CGI to blend much better because of the film grain. This is why people say the CGI is bad in the Hobbit. Overall it’s actually significantly better than the lord of the rings, but is more obvious because of the clarity of digital film (certain scenes were rushed because of time too). I have no problem with more CGI characters. Peter was a pioneer of motion capture and 10 years later it makes perfect sense to implement it more. Yea prosthetic orcs are better, but the prosthetics department had to handle the Dwarves every day and Peter did make an effort to include more prosthetic orcs in Desolation and Battle after fans complained. Plus CGI works better for background orcs. Some of the orcs in the background of LOTR look downright cheesy and are expressionless masks. Take a second look, some of those extras can’t see *beep* and are just flailing their arms.
3. That stupid scene when Thorin reflects on his story.
Peter Jackson even says in the commentary that this scene is only for the people who haven’t been paying attention or forgot the last two movies (same with Old Bilbo and Frodo. It’s there so dumb people don’t get confused about when The Hobbit takes place, but that is handled much better). It’s the worst scene in all six movies and is painfully forced.
4. The end credit songs.
Every song in LOTR end credits was absolutely beautiful, timeless and well composed. The Hobbit doesn’t really have a single good end credits song. The misty mountain one is probably the best, it’s a very sensible genre composition and works fairly well. Billy Boyd’s song is okay, it’s just a redo of a much better song in Return of the king, but it still fits. But that Ed Sheeran song….. good god is it the most inappropriate song to use in a middle-earth movie and will not age well as time goes on. It’s not a bad song by any means, it just simply does not work at all. The worst part about it is that it starts a Capella. We just watched this epic scene where Smaug is heading towards the city, ending on the great line “I am fire, I am Death.” With the response “what have we done?” An emotional fade to black hits, the audience wants more…. and then a wildly over the top “OH MISTY EYE OF THE MOUNTAIN BELOW, KEEP CAREFUL WATCH AND BUY MORE OF MY RECORDS” completely ruins that feeling. The worst thing end credits can do is include a song that is a reflection of popular music at the time and included to sell the soundtrack. It automatically dates your movie and will cause more and more people to laugh and say “how cheesy” as time goes on. It wouldn’t be so bad if they just started with the acoustic guitar hammer-ons and pull-offs that come in, but Ed showing off trying to get more fans just ruins everything (and sadly, it worked).
So yea, I love The Hobbit and all haters can suck it. Thanks a bunch for reading this long ass passionate post and watching these long ass passionate movies. There is so much more to say about why the movie succeeds where the book fails (don't get me wrong, still love and read the book). From dwarves getting captured because they interrupted dinner 3 times, to Bilbo telling greedy dwarves about his ring that they would try to steal.
It is also dumb that Bilbo’s mithrill shirt is never used to protect him in the movie.