Ever since I saw Orlando Bloom listed as “Legolas” on the IMDb page, I have been a bit worried, and seeing the now-released trailer further substantiated my growing concern: The very thing that made The Lord of the Rings films so great is being abandoned, and puts The Hobbit at risk of suckitude.
In my view, the LotR trilogy was fantastic in nearly every way. The films were great because Peter Jackson and his crew just nailed the always-difficult task of being “properly” faithful to a source text–especially when that text is widely known and beloved by generations and generations of crazed fans. What do I mean by “properly faithful” here? I mean that Jackson’s Trilogy was faithful to the novels in all of the right ways–the ways that no fan could forgive him for had he screwed them up, and departed from the novels in ways that actually seemed to enhance the stories, instead of merely being “cuts” that couldn’t fit into the film.
My experience–and that of most folks I know who loved the books and then saw the films–felt that the human actors not only looked right, but looked right next to each other–Boromir looked good next to Aragorn, who looked good next to Frodo, who looked good next to Gandalf, and so on. Additionally, the CGI characters and quasi-faceless characters–I’m thinking mostly of the standard orcs and Uruk-hai, as well as the Ring Wraiths–were perfect matches. This was all wonderful. But it was just one part of “getting it right.”
Importantly, the Trilogy got the right “feel” of the journey and locations–the grandeur of the cities, the horror of Sauron’s eye, the temptation of the Ring, the despair of Frodo, the fear in Gondor’s soldiers, and on and on and on. In short, the films just perfectly captured “the essence” of the books.
Before seeing the trailer for the first installment of The Hobbit, my fear was that the filmmakers would treat it as if it was “another installment” in the same series of books. To some degree, this makes sense–The Hobbit is in fact a prequel.
But here’s the thing:
As anyone who has read all of the novels knows, The Hobbit is NOT the same as The Lord of the Rings. It’s lighter. It’s funnier. It’s aw-shucksier. It’s cuter. It’s much, much faster.
[This actually goes to another of my concerns–splitting it into two movies. There just isn’t even close to as much story here as there is in the LotR–either in depth, breadth, or sheer pages of source material, yet it’s getting nearly the same screen-time treatment. Like Bilbo would say, I worry that we’re going to end up with butter spread too thinly over toast.]
The point is, The Hobbit is simply a fun tale of adventure–not an epic saga of war and fate.
Why does this matter? Because again–what made the Trilogy films so great was how marvelously Jackson captured the novels’ tone and feeling. If Jackson follows the same dedication to the source material as he did with the Trilogy, then we should end up with a film that bears only character- and mythos-based resemblance to The Lord of the Rings.
As I watched the trailer for The Hobbit yesterday, I saw darkness, foreboding music, imminent doom, grave concern on the furrowed brows of everyone, and more generally, “Really Serious Conversations.”
I wanted to see a trailer for The Hobbit. Instead I saw a trailer The Lord of the Rings Part 4.