Hello everyone! Swank-mo-tron here. We've got a brand new robot here that wants a spin at being a Big Shiny Robot! His name is Tim Rosenberger and goes by the robot name Robby the Robot. His first article for us is about The Hobbit and whether or not it was long enough. I'm not sure. But either way, here's Robby the Robot, maybe he can convince you one way or the other: I don’t make a habit of calling out specific reviews, but while preparing to write this article, I came across Richard Roeper’s review for The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey. His overall impression of the movie was it looked great, had generally good acting from its cast, but was too long and bloated. He concluded with, “But based on this seemingly endless first chapter, it appears Jackson made a major misstep in constructing a trilogy when one movie would have done just fine.” I’ve seen this argument raised countless times in person and online. I like Roeper well enough as a film critic, and don’t mean this as a personal attack, but I have to disagree. For me, the film could actually stand to be improved in some respects by adding material and not subtracting. With the release date of the extended cut having been announced last week, I’m excited at the possibility of seeing some of those additions. To tell the truth, though, when Jackson first announced he would adapt J.R.R. Tolkien’s lone book The Hobbit (1937) into multiple films, I felt similar to Roeper. “They’re just doing it for money,” I said. “There’s not enough material in the book to sustain that many movies.” What changed my mind was something Jackson has mentioned in quite a few interviews. Since the book was aimed towards children, it was written with an almost breakneck pace, and you don’t get much development for most of the dwarves. Once you start fleshing those characters out and give them more moments to be their own character, the script naturally gets much longer. This appealed to me, because one of the aspects of the film I didn’t like was how underdeveloped a lot of the dwarves were. It’s a shame since they are my favorite part of the book. It’s a complaint Roeper, other film critics, and some moviegoers have all brought up. The extra 13 minutes of material in the extended cut has the opportunity to fix or at least lessen that issue. This was certainly the case with Jackson’s extended cuts of the Lord of the Rings movies. Those cuts put back many scenes that developed or further developed side characters and their relationships with others. The 13 dwarves from the film. The 13 dwarves from the film. I also feel the longer cut could improve on some pacing issues and give Bilbo, who I felt dropped out of the story a lot once he and the dwarf company left Hobbiton, more to do. The second point is tricky because Bilbo is more of an observer and bumbler in the chapters adapted for the first film. So, it’s difficult to know what he could be given to do, but I think it should definitely be something. Getting back to the pacing problem, I found it funny Roeper mentioned how he felt the film was extremely long. A friend and I both thought the movie didn’t feel like three hours, more like two to two and a half. I would go even further and say the film did a damn good job of capturing the fast pace and feel of the book. The speed at which the film goes, however, isn’t entirely a positive. It often felt like Jackson and the writers were afraid to stay in one place too long, but to be fair, the novel doesn’t always spend a lot of time in one place either. That works in the book, though. It doesn’t in the movie. In quite a few places, I wished the movie would just slow the heck down, if not to add character to Bilbo and the dwarves, then to just let the audience rest and admire the scenery a bit. Two sections that could have benefited the most from a slower pace were the Rivendell sequence and the riddles in the dark scene, the latter of which lacked the proper amount of tension that could’ve been built over a longer, slower scene. Golum and Bilbo during the famous riddle game. Golum and Bilbo during the famous riddle game. What I find annoying about the whole matter of the film’s length, though, are the people who criticize the underdeveloped characters but simultaneously want the movie to be shorter. It’s a catch-22 that baffles me. While I’ve read many comments to the effect of “the film is long enough and the last thing it needs is to be longer,” the extended cut can address at least some of the picture’s faults and try to improve upon them. Now, I don’t know what all is going to be in the extended cut; I’ve intentionally not read too much about it so I can be surprised by the new content when I see it for the first time. I do know there’s a scene with Biblo and Elrond in Rivendell, a scene with the dwarves having a bit of fun at the Rivendell elves’ expense, and some added Bilbo in Hobbiton sequences at the beginning. I’m not crazy about all those additions, and they very well might not address the issues that I think will benefit from a longer cut. However, I reject the idea that a lengthier version of the film has no benefits, especially given some of the complaints about characters I outlined above. I know the film is long, but think about what would happen if it was made shorter. It may in reality make some problems even worse, like giving the dwarves and Bilbo even less time to develop. That brings me to my final point. Actually, it’s more of a request. For all those who thought the movie should’ve been shorter, what would you have cut? Would you cut out the prologue with older Bilbo and Frodo, the Radagast/Gandalf/White Council scenes that weren’t in the book, or is there something else you feel isn’t needed? I truly am curious, because I understand why a viewer would want to cut the first two options, which would take out around 20 to 30 minutes in my estimation. I can’t, however, think of anything else that could be left out, only material that could be put in. Maybe I’m forgetting something and there is some superfluous content, but other than the two specific bits of material I mentioned above, everything seems to tell you something either about the characters or the plot. So please let me know your opinions on the subject. I really want to see the other side of this argument. Just try to also see why I think a slightly longer and slower film might be a good idea. Until then, cheers.

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