hmm may have to see the directors cut on bluray instead if it´s that short :). It all depend I remember when people complained about Titanics length too and they had an intermission for that one. But I am quite skeptical too. LOTR series they had way more to build on for Hobbit they had to add a lot of story lines so I am not sure. The first Hobbit movie did feel stretched out already.
As for violence it appear to be in the human nature maybe that is why it´s so interesting. But as for me I have absolutely no interest in blood sports or anything in real life just movies or games I don´t generally mind if it fit the subject. Can´t say it´s out of place in Passion of the Christ but dunno if it had so much story because I only remembered the golgata walk or what it´s called. I am not into religion at all.
Yeah, I think that explorations of violence in films can be fascinating. I think Passion could have gotten away with its extreme violence had there been something more to latch onto. Unfortunately, it was almost completely lacking in plot or in character. As a purely visceral experience perhaps it was worth something, but it ultimately didn't accomplish anything of note beyond its gore. (At least from my perspective.) I'm not religious either, but I grew up with all the Christian stories, and enjoy well-executed Biblical films. For all of it's flaws, I find The Last Temptation of Christ to perhaps be the most interesting, due in large part to its decidedly un-Biblical humanization of Jesus.
As for The Hobbit... I have tickets to it this Friday, but let's just say that I don't have high hopes. I'd love to be proven wrong though.