Kindly avoid getting anything twisted—I fucking love The Hobbit. When I was a little girl, my dad (WHO DIED, okay, so this sentimentality is HARDCORE) read The Hobbit and/or Lord of the Rings and/or the Chronz of Narnia out loud to me every night before bed. I remember him nodding off in the chair, his pace and pitch winding down like he was running out of batteries—Bifur, Bofur, Bommmmbuuurrrrrrrrrrrrr. It was the best. So at this point, no matter the context, if someone even mentions riding a barrel down the Celduin to Lake-town at the gates of Erebor, The Lonely Mountain (even if they're just talking about spring break!), I collapse in a heap of sniffles.
I am the target audience for The Hobbit. I just want to make that clear. Because The Hobbit...is terrible.
It's the kind of terrible where I love it, and the kind of terrible where I will probably watch it 700 more times before I die of rickets because I haven't left my hobbit hole in nine years (for this is what I must do with all wizard-related materials), but it is TARRAHHBUUULLLLLL nonetheless. Here are the reasons why, in chronological order according to how soon in the movie they annoyed me:
1. Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah. At the beginning of the movie, just so we know we're dealing with an extremely gravitassy mega-epic here and not some trifling whimsy parade (but psych! It's that too!), we're saddled with approximately 105 minutes of the world's flattest, corniest narration about dwarf emotions and rocks. Basically, for a long time, King Thror and his bros lived in this mountain and everything was cool and they had heeeeeeeeeella gold because they were awesome at digging. But then one day Smaug the Dragon comes up and is all, "I wanna know where the gold at. I want the gold! Give ME the gold! I want the gold!" And everyone's like, "UUUUUUGH, THROR YOU DICK, WHY DID YOU KEEP ALL THIS GOLD LYING AROUND WHEN YOU KNOW IT IS THE #1 CAUSE OF A DRAGON RUINING OUR SOCIETY." (Nice victim-blaming, BTW, J-Tolk.) So there's this big battle, and of course the elves don't help at all because they're too busy pretending to look for a hair tie or something, and the dwarves get the fuck decimated out of them. Oh and they set up this completely manufactured bloodfeud between Thorin Oakenshield and some giant albino orc, and it lasts for the entire movie even though everyone definitely would have died of sepsis before they had a chance to raise their cudgels. Now the dwarves are homeless and need some rando hobbit to help them for literally no reason. On to our story! FUCKING FINALLY!
2. Omph Gromph Gromph Nomph Omph Gromph Omph Omp Omp Om Grom Grom. So the dwarves show up at Bilbo Baggins's hole-house, because Gandalf totally pranked everyone (he's like the Ashton Kutcher of the Istari), and they all sit down to talk about gold. This is the part where the dwarves famously raid Bilbo's pantry and sing the first of many whimsical dwarf songs. So, here is my question: Bilbo is a very tiny confirmed bachelor who lives alone in a hole in a paradise of permanent springtime. Why does he have SO MANY WHEELS OF CHEESE??? Dude has enough cheese to last 4000 nuclear winters—and they don't even have nuclei in Middle Earth. Not that it matters, because the dwarves just go ahead and eat Bilbo's entire apartment. Because they are insufferable dicks. But get used to it, because you're about to spend the whole movie hanging out with them.
3. Do You Like Four Hours of Dwarf Comedy, but Wish that You Could Also Have a Headache? You're in luck, friend! Just strap this claustrophobic headache machine to your face and then sit back for a bloated, frenetic, neverending action movie! I realize that we all liked Coraline very much, and congratulations to us all for that, but I fail to see how one Coraline justifies the creation of nine million shitty, unnecessary 3D movies. The 3D in The Hobbit is a disaster. Instead of adding dimensionality, it flattens everything out—an effect which, when combined with the film's relentless kaleidoscopic action, oily 48 frames per second, and tediously uniform depth of field (tell me what to look at just once, Peter!), gives The Hobbit the feeling of a bunch of laminated paper dolls dropped in front of a fan. Even in its most grandiose moments it seems paradoxically chintzy, like a Syfy original on a blockbuster budget (Dinogandalf vs. Sarumansquito!).
4. The Unstoppable Doldrums of Thorin Oakenshield. Seriously, dude, can you get a grip? You're really harshing the road trip here. Do I need to send my dog who is also a clock to tow you out of that funk?
5. WACKY RADAGAST CAMEO. Okay, so it should be noted that The Hobbit's source material is much, much lighter and more "fun" than Lord of the Rings, and Peter Jackson certainly doesn't shy away from that aspect here, but was anyone really clamoring for a whimsical Radagast side-quest? And does he have to be such an incompetent, hysterical clown? I mean, he's a FAMOUS WIZARD. Jackson's Radagast is likable enough, and helpful (sort of, eventually), but I always imagined the dude doing a lot more striding and a lot less blubbering.
6. Rivendell Looks Like a Thomas Kinkade Painting. Also everyone is constantly playing the flute and smiling enigmatically and eating salad. (Elves only eat salad.) Like, hey, elves, could you be more of a parody of elves? I know that whimsy reigns right now because you think Sauron is still gone from the world and evil is deceased, but have some goddamn self-respect.
7. There's This Part Where Gandalf Is Chilling with Saruman and Galadriel and He Mentions Radagast and Then RECORD SCRATCH!!! Saruman freaks out and is all, "Do not speak to me of Radagast!!!" and says that he can't even deal with that dude anymore because of "his excessive consumption of mushrooms." And then Gandalf makes this horrible naughty face, like "Who, me???" and it's fucking awful. Also I think Galadriel is the only female creature in this entire movie.
8. WHY WOULD GOLLUM WANT TO DO RIDDLES? He lives in a subterranean lake and hasn't been outside for like 400 years. He doesn't know anything. Why wouldn't he challenge Bilbo to, say, a hillbilly handfishin' contest or something? ANYTHING BUT LAND-OF-THE-LIVING TRIVIA 101.
9. And for that matter, "What have I got in my pocket?" is NOT A RIDDLE. Seriously, Bilbo, you should have been DQ'd for that shit. When I'm the High Chancellor of Cave Riddlin' I'll run a tighter ship.
10. All of that said... The Bilbo/Gollum cave scene is actually fucking great, and it's the moment that the movie finally starts to feel like a movie instead of very expensive made-for-TV fairy tale theater (minus Shelley Duvall, so rip-off).
11. Why Are You Guys Not Dead. The reason that most of The Hobbit doesn't feel like a movie is that it's really just one long, sustained climax—a nearly unbroken string of massive action set pieces, each finishing with an increasingly improbable deus ex machina. (Tell me again why they don't just skip the month of thankless trudging and get Gwaihir & Co. to fly them straight to the Lonely Mountain in the first place? And Mt. Doom too, for that matter? Get your shit together, 'Dalf.) By the 67th miraculous escape it starts to feel like a dumb joke. Like, there's no way they wouldn't have lost at least Oin to the storm giants. Come on. Come on.
12. Oh, These Magic Eagles and Gandalf Are Just Totally Tight Bros. No big.
13. Oh, Thx 4 Leaving Us on This Impassable Crag, Eagles. Nice "rescue."
14. Oh, the Movie's Over. I'm still totally excited for the next one. Because sniffs.