So. I finally got to see the first part of Peter Jackson’s new trilogy set in Middle Earth – and found it definitely worth the price of the ticket. Wifey and I saw it in regular 2D, so I can’t comment about the 3D or HFR experience. What we did see, however, was more of Middle Earth than we’d expected from an adaptation of a very short book. Plus or minus?
For a Tolkien and Middle Earth history geek, personally I found this a big plus. I’m not sure that studios will fork over for a production of The Silmarillion or the many possible historical epics that can be mined from just Silmarillion and the appendices included with The Return of the King (then again I may be wrong, the franchise does seem to have proven profitable), so I like it that Jackson expanded the scope of the movie to include a lot of what was ‘off-camera’ in the book.
I believe a big factor in Jackson’s decision to do this (aside from Jackson really being just a big hobbit at heart) is the difference in experience between the books and the movies. The Hobbit was written as a children’s tale, which grew in the telling so that its intended sequel became The Lord of the Rings, far grander, graver and darker in tone. The thing is, as a reader, it’s pretty likely you’d have experienced The War of the Ring, from its opening moves to its finish, the way Tolkien presented it – as an innocent children’s adventure first, then a grand epic based on the previous material.
Moviegoers, specially those who’d never read either The Hobbit or LOTR, have the experience backwards, since the chronologically later trilogy was produced and shown first. Thus The Hobbit adaptation was produced with people who’d already seen LOTR in mind, and Jackson uses the opportunity to show the story in the wider context of the coming War of the Ring. Some of the treats from this expanded scope include:
(Spoilers will follow for those who’ve not seen the movie yet, so continue at your own risk … )