Why The Hobbit Sucks Part Two: Tensionless Action

The Hobbit has some of the most boring
action scenes I’ve ever seen. Watching them feels like watching a laundry
machine. There’s plenty of movement, but not a lot going on. They’re overly long,
threat-free, gravity-defying, tone death, and a bunch of other bad adjectives, but
their biggest sin is that most of them do nothing to advance the story. They
remind me of bad musical numbers. You see, even though musicals are as long as
movies, the music itself takes up half the running time, leaving you with less time
for, you know, story and shit, so musicals often run the risk of having a
super-slim plot, because they can’t figure out a way to tell the story
through the songs. Good musicals will advance the plot and the characters in
the songs themselves. Here’s a simple test. If you can remove a
song from a musical without changing the story, then the song isn’t pulling its
weight. To be clear, the song can still be fun and catchy, while also being complete
filler. This song was rightfully cut from the original Lion King, and not just
because it’s fucking annoying.
Zazu: “We haven’t paid the horn bills and the vultures
have a hunch.” But also because Zazu’s lyrics don’t advance the plot at all. Now, if you
were alive in 2013, then you’ve heard this song. Part of the reason “Let It Go,”
is great is that you can’t remove it from the story. It’s literally about
Elsa’s character development. She begins afraid and alone, and by the
end of the song, she’s basically Beyonce. Action scenes can be used in the same
way. Characters can reveal something about themselves, or learn the lesson the
film has been trying to teach them.
Buzz: This is falling with style.
So let’s apply that same test to some of the action scenes of The Hobbit. The
Stone Giants. This is probably the most random scene in the entire trilogy. As the
dwarves are walking along, they watch Rock’em Sock’em robots fighting each
other. Bilbo gets in danger here, and Thorin
questions his worth, but that dynamic has already been set up from the beginning
of the movie. So the scene is just here for spectacle and to look good in a
trailer. The Orc Raid Laketown. The orcs pointlessly raid Laketown at
the end of The Desolation Of Smaug. Literally nothing happens in this scene.
The Legolas and Bolg fight is the definition of filler. It’s so pointless, that they
don’t even continue the plotline at the beginning of the next movie. Fighting
Smaug. But by far the biggest offender here, apart from most of the third movie,
is the conclusion of The Desolation of Smaug. So here’s a scene that exists
solely because of the three movie structure. Gotta end a blockbuster with
everything going kablammo, so strap in because it’s time to watch the dwarves
pointlessly wrestle a dragon for two loads of laundry. But it’s certainly
going to feel odd watching part three immediately after part two. I mean,
you just watched a 20 minute action scene with Smaug, and now you’re going to
watch another 20 minute action scene with Smaug? I’m willing to bet that if
they only made two movies like they originally planned, then Smaug would have
gone to blow-up Laketown the moment he stopped talking with Bilbo. Instead, we
get the most absurd scene of the trilogy. Oh for fuck’s sake. The movie goes
through all this trouble to build up Smaug as a threat, and then it renders
him completely toothless and incompetent in the next scene. Compare this to the
opening of Five Armies. Here are all the ways the plot or the characters are
developed in this scene. One, Alfred is betrayed and forced to fend for himself. Bard escapes from prison. Three, Smaug is slain as a result of his own pride. And four, the master is killed for being a greedy asshole. You can’t have a movie
without the scene, but you can totally fast-forward through five minutes of
Desolation without missing a thing. Now maybe you’re thinking that not every
action scene needs to move the story forward. Sometimes it’s just fun to have
a good fight in the movie. Well that’s true. But that’s the other problem with
the action scenes in The Hobbit. They don’t have tension. Tension is created when the film makes us ask, “I wonder what will
happen next?” To do that, you have to make us feel the danger by giving us enough
time to figure out what’s happening, and then letting our imaginations do the
work. And if you have tension, you don’t even need to have elves doing backflips
to make it exciting! Imagine that! Now, probably the most filler-y scene in the
original movies is the one with the stairs when they’re escaping from Moria.
It doesn’t add much to the story other than: “Nobody tosses a dwarf.” But it’s
an incredible lesson in cinematic tension. Okay, so they’re on these stairs
when they come across a small gap. No problem, right? Legolas jumps across. Then we hear, but don’t see, the Balrog and the tension creeps up. We get a reaction shot
from Gandalf that tells us to be afraid. A single arrow is fired at the
Fellowship and misses. Now they have a second problem. They have to jump the gap and goblins are firing at them. We get a shot of arrows almost hitting the
hobbits toes and a reaction shot of them recoiling in fear. Boromir hastily grabs
Merry and Pippin and jumps. Just as he does so, the stairs where he was standing
fall away. The gap is bigger, making the problem more difficult, soon only Frodo
and Aragorn remain, the two most important characters. Even more of the
staircase falls away, and we get a vertical shot to show how far they’ll fall.
Keep in mind this was back when gravity still posed a legitimate threat in
Middle-earth. Now the gap has become impossibly wide.
Will Frodo and Aragorn have to turn back? How are they gonna get out of this one?
Then this happens: we hear the Balrog stomping about, dislodging a boulder that
hits the stairs behind them. Then the stairs they’re on now begin to
wobble. To tally up the problems this scene has built until this point, we’ve
got one, the Balrog is coming, so they’ve got to hurry. Two, there’s a gap in the
stairs that they have to navigate. Three, the gap is getting bigger every time someone jumps. Four, the goblins are getting pretty close at hitting someone
with an arrow. Five, the stairs are cut off behind them,
so they can’t go back. Six, the stairs are beginning to fall in the wrong direction.
Finally, Aragorn comes up with a plan. They lean forward, using the falling
staircase to make it over the gap. The music swells the moment they are
safe, dispelling the tension of the scene in a terrific climax. As a final shot, we
see the staircase smash into pieces and fall into the abyss, further
demonstrating the fate our heroes have just escaped. In the hobbit, we get
another escape from the goblins in Moria scene, and it comes in almost the exact
same point in the movie, so I feel that it’s fair to compare them. Only this time,
Jackson managed to forget everything he knows about cinematic tension and
instead just cranks up the number of things that happen by a factor of 10, and
then plays it all super fast. It starts with Dwalin pausing when
some goblins are running directly at him. He solves the problem instantly by
picking up part of the railing and swatting the goblins away. They drop the
log and keep running. Now we’re back to a wide shot. Some of the characters are on
the walkway up top, while others are on the walkway down below. Which dwarf is on
which walkway? Fuck you, doesn’t matter, because boom, next shot they’re all running
across the same bridge. Wilhelm scream! Blam! 12 super quick shots of dwarves
stabbing goblins. It’s Thorin and then Ballin then Bifur, I think, well ah fuck
it. Please note that the ease with which everyone can kill goblins,
including the old dwarf, makes the threat that they pose completely non-existent.
Seeing as goblins are about as strong as… and there’s really only one comparison I
can make here is there. Buuuut, no time think about that because
boom! We’re into another set piece. Goblins are swinging in on ropes. Thorin yells, “Cut the ropes!” They cut the ropes. Then there’s a shot of goblins getting all tangled up. I’m
starting to see a pattern here. Each of these little mini-sequences are all just
three quick shots. The first one sets up a problem. The second one is a character
coming up with a solution. And the third one is them executing on it. Never for a
moment we get a shot showing our characters scared about what’s happening,
or struggling for a solution like we do in Fellowship. Buuuut no time to think about that because kablammo! Kili’s blocking arrows with his sword. It’s set piece
number three. Kili bashes through the goblins with the ladder. Then that
becomes a bridge. This is over in like a second, and now we’re… hold on a second,
we’re reuniting with other members of the company? Who I guess were on the
other side of the walkway? How? When? They were all together a second ago. Who’s
with who? Hold on. Stop for a second. What the fuck is happening? We’re all swinging
on a bridge, that’s what. Some dwarves jump off, then some goblins jump on, and
for a second you’re like, oh shit, now they’re stuck on there with the… oh wait…
oh… they’ve escaped. More swooping crane shots of scenery you’ll never see again!
Two more stabby shots! And then, Guam! We’re into the Bombur set piece!
Stephen Hunter: He’s a fat dwarf, basically. Don’t beat around the bush. Thanks Steve. Bombur trips and falls
through two flights of wood. Some goblins get launched in the air. Are we
worried if Bomber’s okay? Too bad motherfucker! Cuz time to watch Thor
stab a dude. And then Gandalf stab a dude. Then Gandalf shoots a magic laser at a rock, dislodging a boulder, and the
music swells, but you’re like what? Why is the music being all triumphant? How is
this any different from the shenanigans Dwalin and Kili were pulling? And the
battle isn’t even over yet. There are still nine more stabby shots before
heading into the confrontation with the Goblin King. Even as bad as it is at
building tension, it’s also terrible at relieving what tension is there. Now it
might surprise you, but even with all of that going on, the scene from Journey is
only ten seconds longer than the one from Fellowship. Where Jackson used to
take two and a half minutes to clearly introduce elements of tension that made
the stakes clear, he now took the same time to have five different set pieces
played back-to-back-to-back-to-back-to- back along with a bunch of miscellaneous
stabbing to boot. Nothing in this scene builds on what came before, which means you could reorder the entire sequence without
changing the story at all. Scenes with tension are memorable because they
engage you on an emotional level. You actually become worried about the
well-being of the characters in the scene. I think one of the reasons people
aren’t as connected to the dwarves as they were the Fellowship is because they
never seem like they’re in any real danger in the action scenes. They always
escape without a scratch. Most of the time, we barely know where
any of the dwarves are, what dangers they’re facing, or if they’re struggling
to overcome those dangers or not. As a result, the action scenes just wash over
you, forgotten by the next load laundry. Thank you for watching Part 2.
Next up, I get all nitpicky. That’s right, I’m picking all the nits in Part 3,
so make sure you subscribe to the Just Write channel so you don’t miss it when
the video goes up tomorrow, but first time for a little bonus stupidity.
Dwalin: Goblin mercenaries. no more than 100.
Oh there’s only a hundred of them? No problem right? Yeah I’m really at the edge of my seat here.

100 thoughts on “Why The Hobbit Sucks Part Two: Tensionless Action

  1. I think a lot of the issue here is that there's no passion, you can tell that Lord of the Rings was about making a masterpiece while The Hobbit is just a blockbuster.

  2. Honestly I kind of felt like the fight scenes in The Hobbit were more like levels of a Video Game where the player has played it so many times they just memorized the buttons they have to press on order to keep going. I loved these movies… but not their action scenes.

  3. I cant comment on the hobbit because it all sucks but The escape from Moria in FOTR sucks too. Had Jackson stuck to exactly what happens in the book it would have been fine.

  4. When it came to the action realism in the hobbit compared to the action in the lotr it shows Gandalf moves more fluently and doesn’t just tap an orc to kill it he slices the heads of and stabbed me them deep same can be said for the other characters but in the lotr any action scene with the attempt to be real is by shot by arrow or stabbing now the technology wasn’t as advance as it is today but still look at the Star Wars trilogy and then come back and make that excuse plus elves are cool and fight scene is awesome with elves even if it is meaningless

  5. Just keep this into account that the hobbit is a children's book , and Peter Jackson wanted to make it like lord of the ring.

  6. OK no offence but at 1:15 I think that we were all alive in 2013 because we would not be listening to you swear in this video if we were less than 6 years old. ( I wrote this comment in 2019)

  7. Always loved the movies wonder why everybody hates them! honestly I still like them. great points however it is a fantasy movie it's meant to have fun watching and I honestly did.

  8. I really think the advancement of cgi plays a big role in why jackson changed his style. In the LOTR trilogy, cgi was there but wasn’t enough to rely on completely. He had to mix practical effects and had actual people in costume fighting each other. And because of the limitations of those practical effects, jackson had to rely on other ways to grab the audiences attention. Now with cgi he just made complete cgi fight scenes (which still look like shit imo) and made them so over the top that the audience can be entertained solely on how crazy they are.

  9. Dont know how I feel about this. I thought The Hobbit was great and that everyone seems to be missing the point. I dont think it was trying to be like lord of the rings at all. Its more of a light comical version of it (the dwarves mainly act as comic relief) and I thought that was pretty good. The scenes I was incredibly bored with was the inclusion of the "necromancer" and the nazgul. I also agree how it shouldn't have been a trilogy. The first and second film should've been one 3 hour long movie if they trimmed the fat.

  10. The Hobbit Trilogy does not suck period, these films are simply flawed plain & simple!!! The Star Wars prequels & The Matrix sequels, those are perfect examples of movies that do truly suck thanks to horrible acting, crappy writing, relying way too much on CGI, very little to no character depth, etc with only the fight scenes & the music (Star Wars prequels music only, Matrix sequels music was meh) being the only positives regarding those film series.

    The Hobbit Trilogy may not be masterpieces like The Lord of The Rings Trilogy but they are nonetheless fun entertaining enjoyable films with terrific performances, decent writing & character development, very likable characters and great music.

    Peter Jackson & his team never should've adapted the novel into 3 films as The Hobbit is a single book on a smaller scale as opposed to the much more massive, ambitious & grander Lord of The Rings trilogy. The Hobbit would've worked out far better had it been adapted into 2 films instead of 3.

    To say it sucked means that it has no redeeming qualities whatsoever & that is not the case with The Hobbit films at all!!! Is The Hobbit Trilogy as great as The Lord of The Rings Trilogy? Of course not but that doesn't mean that The Hobbit movies are bad films which they're most definitely not!!!

  11. The hobbit and the lord f the rings trilogies are two different types of fantasy movies, when Tolkien wrote the Hobbit, it was made for children, which is why there is much less tension and detail. The lord of the rings is made for an older audience, so he pays more attention to smaller details and to the plot. I do however agree that the portrait of The Hobbit in the movies weren’t very good, because of the amount of bad special effects and some of the things you mentioned.

  12. Can we just bare in mind all this talk of tension and not exciting action scenes just remember the hobbit was written as a kids book

  13. These videos are phenomenal. What the fuck happened to you jw? Wolf just raged at the new efap (47). You’ll find it when you see your video.

  14. Seems like the same problem as Game of Thrones. Jackson, like Benioff and Weiss, can direct a project like nobody’s business. But when there are gaps in the books that need to be filled, he doesn’t know what to do.

  15. i think this is just a clickbait viedeo…
    the scene with goblins is more than important. bec bilbo find the ring from golum…
    and that`s just one point of many 😉

  16. Also all the needless beheading scenes. I tried to count the number of heads chopped off and I failed. I thought Hobbit was supposed to be children's book and Lotr was tween/adult book..

  17. The first 45 minutes of Desolation is the best in the whole series, just because it feels like the only time there is a little tension

  18. “Tolkien’s” Hobbit has yet to be made into a movie. This boring set of films was Jackson’s non-canonical hobbit story. Fans could edit out 80% of it and come down to some semblance of the original book, or start over from scratch, but not in our lifetimes because they’ll lock this copyright until the end of time.

  19. The music you have playing in the "background" is very loud and makes me want to stop listening despite wanting to hear what you have to say about the movie

  20. 0:35 really not hakuna matata? You literally have simba grow up without his family and grow into a lion who doesn't worry nor take responsibility

  21. Now I understand why I like the first LOTR film so much more than the other two. Some of the battles and action in the other two just seemed like fillers.

  22. Did anyone else discover this channel through the Korra and Harry Potter videos and were surprised to see this channel began with so much anger?

  23. It wasn't so long ago I discovered your channel, so I'm stoked you have a few years of material I can work though because I love your stuff. This video is just plain excellent.

    I'm not a writer in most of the senses people mean, but along with being immensely entertained by your essays, I also try to pick out tidbits to make me a better Dungeon Master. Tension isn't built the same way by a group in a tabletop roleplaying game as it is in cinema or other linear story formats, but your dissection of the two goblin scenes is gold to me all the same. Thanks!

  24. I like the goblin scene in the hobbit I think it's just a fun action scene it shows what the dwarves are made of and it works, but I agree there's absolutely no tension and at no point do you feel any of them are in any actual danger

  25. Looking back on Peter Jackson with the Hobbit and D&D with season 8 of GOT should remind everyone that the people who adapt great works of literature are still no where near the people who made them

  26. I will never understand why Tolkiens son allowed this movie (Can it just be money?) LOTR I was great, II was good, III was so so and the Hobbit totally ruined everything. When I look back at the Fellowship of the Ring, I don't know, how it is possible, that Peter Jackson has lost his way so completely, and does not even realise it. He really belives, he made great movies. What a little money and a few oscars can do to a mans self reflection. The Hobbit trilogy is just a stupid video game for kids who find everything just soooo cooool and like it the most, when the enemies head is cut in two parts, with an axe. Today an actor mostly has to look cute, while cutting heads and arms of their enemies bodys, much more is not required. What a waste, considering the talent, that was assembled here. It's just a shame. And it's an insult to every true LOTR fan, who love all these stories. With the exeption of the Fellowship, I wish they would not have made any more of these movies.

  27. In The Two Towers and The Return of the King it baffled me how the characters could survive so much.
    They'd be at the front of an army on horseback, they'd ride into thousands of orcs and survive then do it again later in the film.
    At the end of The Return of the King the only one of the main heroes who had an injury was Frodo who had a finger bitten off by Gollum.
    As the films progressed i felt like there was no real threat to them.
    Peter Jackson repeated his same mistakes in The Hobbit films only then they were more obvious.

  28. The books are basically fucking musicals they never stop singing and the dwarves are known for having fun and never shut up. It's also a way to show the contrast between dwarves and elves. But yeah you're right in this video.

  29. An excellent video, especially because i didn’t watch the second or third hobbit movies so i have no idea what happened there. Yes i read the book, but like i said, i have no idea what happened in the movies

  30. I still don't understand why everyone has such a problem with CGI… Sure, practical effects are far better for some things, but the 'hate on CGI' feels more like a cross-franchise running gag that everyone will get even if you lived under a rock most of your life.

  31. That’s spot on! Last year I rewatched the hobbit trilogy and ended up wishing peter Jackson would release a shorter versions of these movies(special cut),removing all the silly, “unrealistic” action pieces!
    Lord of the rings extended edition are awesome! In my opinion, makes the movies better. I believe a short cut of the hobbit movies could make them better too…

  32. I agree with the fact that LOTR had far more tensioned and well written scenes but it was also meant to be a lot more serious than The Hobbit. Even though LOTR's moments are far more memorable, the dwarves' fighting scenes (especially the siege from the last movie) ,though sometimes kind of dumb, still make me smile. In LOTR we had the dark and dangerous adventure and the relationship among the characters, while in The Hobbit we had the fun and epic fights.

  33. Let's not forget how well the Balrog is finally introduced. Hundred of Goblins are surrounding the Fellowship while they're fleeing. Even though our heroes won in the chamber, it was quite hard and Frodo could have died, and now they're completely surrounded ! We see how scary the Goblins are, and that the Fellowship is apprehending this fight. But then an other threat comes that scares the Goblins so much they all run away. The music stops, Gandalf explains what the threat is, and the escape resumes.
    I love this scene, to be honest all the scenes in Moria. They're not long, but comes with wisdom, tension, fight, nice shots, amazing music, character development & cie.

    Goblin-town could be summarised as : the group is captured, Gandalf intervenes, the group escapes. Even though things are happening, it's not important to remember them.
    If I remember from the book, Goblin-town is also supposed to be dark. Gandalf creates a lightning to kill the king (I don't remember if it was a real one or fancy magic for his sword to scares the Goblins) and that illuminates the room. It's absolutely not dark in the movie, and that removes that tension of what might comes from the shadows.. Yeah, I'll read the book again to cringe more when watching the movies.

  34. only and i mean only thing i liked about the movies is that we saw a bit of gandalf using more magic
    …and thats it
    like every other movie post 2012 its just pure fucking CGI (that weird plastic CGI look)

    movies nowdays are just either made up of weird dumb SJW shit or feminism or pure cgi with dumb actions etc without any effort or love put into it…mayas where right about 2012 worlds end…also look at music, at people, they all dress the same and do weirdest shit ever like roll up pants in winter wtf

    oh maybe one more thing: at least the hobbit did also not cast pure baby face weird looking pussie wannabe man

  35. Your an asshole go to England your fit in there whingers and you are to the action was good did you watch it with only one eye open shut up wanker. If you dont like it don't watch simple.

  36. So recently i stumbled upon behind the scenes clips from The Hobbit, so i decided to rewatch it. The clips from making the movie are actually way more entertaining than the movie itself. Very good point you made in the video about relationships and tension. I remember going to the cinema for the 3rd film and falling asleep somewhere in the beginning and waking up around Legolas Super Mario scene…

  37. Dude! This sounds like you are a professional director. Thank you for your advices. We’re looking forward to your every movies you’re gonna make in the future.

  38. I agree that the Hobbit trilogy should have been a two chapter story, but this nitpicking makes no sense. You took a scene where the characters are WAY out of their league against a balrog, so they have to escape, and compare it to one where the characters have much weaker enemies to face, the only threat being their numbers.
    Of course the two scenes would have nothing in common.
    This need for finding flaws at every aspect of a movie that you dislike makes otherwise valid points lose their importance

  39. 6:05 that was a shitties scene in the film. Hobbit sucks because Peter Jackson is not a great director. LOFTR was a terrific trilogy. It was great but not because PJ. It because Tolkien and people who worked for that film. Of course Peter Jackson put his soul into that fim and they had a lesser budget but if he made better decisions, the first triligoy would be perfect.

  40. I love how he shows "let it go" and immediately cuts to hobbits getting surrounded by like 9 dark corrupted kings

  41. I just… I just… LOVE THE HOBBIT AND IT DOESN'

  42. All true. Only watched them all for Thranduil….sorry. Fangirl. Lee Pace is just really good in this and I'd watch an entire six hour movie with just him in it looking royal and bored and slicing orcs with his sword….

  43. Since Legolas is in the LOTR, you know he is never in peril in his fight scenes in The Hobbit movies.  They should have replaced him with another elf.

  44. Y'know, if that whole bridge swinging moment in the goblin chase scene had been extended for at least one to two more swings, it would have actually been a cool set piece because it would increase the tension for at least a little bit. As it goes back and forth, more people get off to safety, but now there are less people to combat the increasing number of goblins that hop on on the swing back to their side. It would allow at least an actual ramp-up in tension rather than the 3 piece segments you mentioned of problem-analysis-response that seems to be rampant in that scene.

  45. I fell asleep in the idiotic Goblin mine nonsense. Jackson should have simply followed the damn book!
    And a couple of old friends of mine directed "Mulan", so I may have to send this to them, lol! Though I told one of them that THAT song was a little too "Village People" for me when it was in production.

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