Peter Jackson’s “The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug” hits theaters this weekend. It’s either the far better of the two ‘Hobbit’ films thus far, or barely better depending on your point of view (you can read our review here). Originally scheduled to be two films, near the end of production, Jackson and Warner Bros. decided to split the story into three films. Good idea? Bad idea? It’ll be hard to tell until the whole thing is over, but our review suggests, you’re already seeing those growing pains.
“The strain of what was originally conceived as one story running the course of two movies, now stretched to its limits with a third picture, is deeply felt,” our reviewer wrote. “The character arcs are negligible... far too many of the film's story elements [are] just a set up which will pay off in another episode. The episodic, middle chapter [nature of movies] that is currently hurting the modern-day tentpole sequel is fully evinced.”
OK, so the stretched nature of the narrative seems to be a problem. Mercenary-like move? "People think it's a cold-blooded cash-grab from the studio, but it didn’t come from the studio at all, [the idea to expand to a third film] came from [co-screenwriters] Fran [Walsh] Philipa [Boyens] and I,” Jackson himself said in a recent interview with Entertainment Weekly.
So where would the split of the story originally occurred? And this will probably make more sense to you after you’ve seen the movie, but Jackson said, “The split was going to occur where Bard [The Bowman played by Luke Evans] appears on the river bank as a silhouetted figure with a bow. So the whole barrel sequence was going to be the climax.”
If they would have kept it that way, the first ‘Hobbit’ movie unedited as they are now, would have likely ran about 4 and ½ hours. Jackson says he realizes lots of audiences had problems with the “meandering road movie”-ness of the first 'Hobbit' film, but says the decision to expand the movies means “we rethought it all,” and that this was more satisfying. “There was certainly no shortage of material,” he added.
Well, so far the first two movies run almost 6 hours and there’s no doubt “There And Back Again” due December 14, 2015 will run almost 3 hours once more. You’ll have to check back after you see the second film and see if you think it was worth it. ‘The Desolation of Smaug’ opens up in theaters nationwide today.