Anghus Houvouras wonders if Peter Jackson has given in to excess with his three-part adaptation of The Hobbit…
I’m not sure where the trend started exactly. I’ve traced it backwards like a piece of thread pinned to a cork board. You have a successful movie that evolves into a franchise. And in the efforts of wringing every last dollar from it, you begin to split a single story into multiple installments. It’s become an all too familiar trend at a time when Hollywood studios seem almost desperate to turn their hottest properties into infinite money generating perpetual motion machines.
I suppose you could blame the Harry Potter films for splitting the final installment into two parts. Once the industry saw you could serialized each book into more than one film without so much as a shrug from eager audiences all bets were off. And from that decision we get to suffer through two part finales for Twilight and The Hunger Games. I wonder how many executives at Warner Bros. were kicking themselves for not realizing this sooner. Be thankful they didn’t. We might have ended up with sixteen Harry Potter movies.
I was already a little curious about Peter Jackson’s decision to turn J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit into two films. Not surprised mind you, just curious. Jackson has become renowned for his ability to make seemingly endless films. So why wouldn’t he turn a 300 page book into two movies? It would have felt strange if he hadn’t. But when the announcement was made that he was turning it into a trilogy, it careened into ludicrous territory.
He’s not the first to turn a single story into a needless trilogy. The Wachowskis did it with The Matrix and Disney produced a couple of needless Pirates of the Caribbean sequels. Going back to the well is not a new concept in Hollywood. It is however starting to feel insulting.
I don’t really know if people are excited about three Hobbit movies. I’m not, obviously. I’m winded by the very idea of having to spend nine hours mucking through a story I’m already familiar with. Nine hours. Mull on that for a moment. You’re going to have to sit through nine hours of The Hobbit from start to finish. It will take you more time to see the adaptation of the book than it would to read the book itself.
The whole effort now feels like a chore. I’m going to have to slog through three films over three years, each around three hours long. I don’t know if I’m willing to make that kind of commitment, And after sitting through his nearly three hour King Kong, I seriously question the man’s ability to edit himself.
And I could be wrong. Maybe he will make a three film masterpiece and rebottle the lightning he was able to manufacture for The Lord of the Rings. But I know that Peter Jackson is a director whose work I greatly respected when he was limited by the constraints of time and budget. Back when he was putting out wonderful little films like Brain Dead, Meet the Feebles, and Heavenly Creatures. And I enjoyed The Lord of the Rings films, which one could argue was still a product of a limited budget. Especially based on today’s standard. Each of the Rings films came at or just under 100 million dollars. The rumors of the budget for all three Hobbit films are heading north of half a billion.
I’m not a fan of the Peter Jackson who revels in excess. The one who has all the toys in the chest and no one to challenge his every impulse. I’m not a fan of any director who lacks the common sense to know when to say “when”. The Hobbit trilogy could prove me wrong. Sadly we wont have that answer until 2015 when this exercise in excess is complete.