Here be drag… um, spoilers…

Seriously, if you’ve not seen the new Hobbit film yet, there are some fairly major spoilers below.

So, I went to see the Hobbit a couple of days ago with my brother-in-law and his fiancee – I didn’t go with my wife because she (A) was looking after our son and (B) wouldn’t have enjoyed the bits with the spiders.
Before I get on with the complaining, let me say that I enjoyed the film; it was fun, well produced and Smaug was excellent. However, compared to the first film, I felt like they’d padded it with a lot of unnecessary stuff.

Now, I’m not one to complain about minor tweaks to a story, made in order to help it work in a different medium. I did not object to the addition of the orcs chasing the dwarves in the first film, for example – it added a sense of urgency that would probably have been lacking otherwise, which ensured decent pacing through the early parts.
I also don’t object to cosmetic changes that tie a story together a little better – introducing Legolas as one of the Mirkwood elves provided a nice link to the Lord of the Rings films and didn’t disrupt the story.
I don’t even object to the addition of extra material if it adds something to the story. All the bits with Gandalf and the Necromancer fill in some background and again provide a certain sense of continuity between the films.
What I object to (at last, I hear you cry) is the completely unnecessary additions that do nothing for the story, but pad out the running time. The biggest offenders by far are the romance thread between Kili and Tauriel (one of the screenwriters has a fetish, is my best guess), and the dwarves’ cunning plan to defeat Smaug that does absolutely nothing, apart from pad the film out by an extra twenty minutes (I can only assume that they wanted to finish with some action, but didn’t want to place that action at Laketown, as they wanted Smaug in the final film).

I also felt that the orcs in this film were a lot more out of place than in the first film. In the first film, they mainly provide a background antagonist until the very end… a fight which happened in the book anyway and was just elevated from being a random encounter with some wolves, to a more personal fight, which served as a good end to the film. However, in the second film, the orcs just seemed to pop up every time there hadn’t been any fighting for a while. I’m reminded of the old GM’s trick – whenever you’re stuck for something to happen in your game, ninjas attack.

Overall, while I did enjoy the film on its own merits, it has left me a little disappointed; with the amount of padding out that was done, I can’t help feeling that they could probably have condensed the book into two films (the first film ending with the company escaping the Mirkwood elves) and had a much tighter plot as a result.

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