This post contains spoilers. Please be warned and click away accordingly.
Dear Mr. Jackson,
Peter, you’re breaking my heart. You know how much The Hobbit means to me. You know how much it means to hundreds of thousands of early readers who fell in love with fantasy because of Bilbo Baggins. You know how much time and money you poured into this, and how much everyone hoped An Unexpected Journey would be the beginning of a new record-breaking run.
So I can only ask: why?
Why load up a perfectly cohesive, easily understood story with a bunch of background stuff that Tolkien left out for a reason? Why bog down your actors with tedious, amateur, useless, repetitive dialog? Why is Ned from Pushing Daisies making a cameo as King Thranduril? Why did you turn Radagast into Middle Earth’s Jar Jar Binks? Sled rabbits? Animated hedgehogs? Seriously?
I can see what you were going for. You’re ambitious, and I like that. I love Middle Earth like a second home, and I’d be overjoyed to see its rich and complex history come to life. I’d even love to see you do it. But it doesn’t belong here, and I wish someone had told you that.
When you stick to the story, you do it brilliantly. When you use dialogue straight from the page, my heart sings with how perfectly rendered it is. The first twenty-five minutes were lovely, striking just the right tone and using all of the best bits of the original text. Martin Freeman? Perfection. Richard Armitage? Fantastic. The guy who plays Kili? Tell him to audition for the film adaptation of The Last Death.
But I beg you to take a good look at your script before you release the next two (entirely unnecessary) films. Cut out the crap. Half of this movie felt like the first draft of a NaNoWriMo novel, heavy on the filler and wandering where it didn’t need to go. I’d be happy to give you some tips on editing, because that’s all I could think about, and it distracted from all of the wonderful things in the film.
Also, the 3D was kind of awful for me. There were parts that used it to great effect, but the colors were dark and dreary through the glasses, and half of the motion was sickeningly blurry and impossible to focus on. But that could have just been my movie theater, which is not known for being particularly great (they started the movie five minutes early, then stopped it, brought up the lights, and waited until 5:00 to roll film again from the beginning).
Is it worth seeing? Well, yes, of course. As I said, the good parts were very, very good. The bad parts are tolerable, and probably better than most things you’ll see in the theater over the holiday season. But it doesn’t leave me with very much hope for the second two movies, even though I desperately wish to be wrong. Please prove me wrong, Peter. Please.
Lots of love,