Sorry for the length, but I didn't have time to write a short blog.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Not Your Father's Hobbit

I first read the The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings in the early 1970's, I think.  The history of the arrival of those books is something of lore and I am not going to find out if it is true.  The books, it is said, first came from England courtesy of college students who brought the master works back with them.  For me, The Hobbit was the children's story for those not old enough to understand the three books of The Lord of the Rings.  It was in my mind the cartoon and the trilogy the master work.  To a degree, it is still true.

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey though may change all that for a generation of movie goers.  While still containing much of the simple humor such as the invention of golf and riddles and songs of the original story, it is also as a movie a much more grown-up version.  Certainly, Peter Jackson has an advantage that those of us starving for epic fantasy in the 1960's and 70's didn't.  We didn't know how much of Bilbo's adventures would eventually relate to Frodo's adventures.  There is little doubt that Jackson, determined to use material and notes from both, has expanded the scope of  the original story.  He also cleverly uses things like parallel scenes in Unexpected Journey and from Rings. I didn't realize how well the two parallel. Add to this the additional stories from other sources, we see that, as far as Jackson is concerned, The Hobbit really should be the fourth book of the series and not just a loosely related story of how the ring came to Frodo.

While others may not agree with this idea because the books really do remain stylistically different, the movies are pushing the epic levels of that which came before.  The question remains though is the scope of Jackson's film going to match the epic capturing and alter film making at its scope, that his Lord of the Rings trilogy did.  Something magical happened with the original three and it is a difficult task to capture that magic -- that lightening in the bottle, if you will -- again.  Lucas learned this with his second Star Wars trilogy and most sequels have this issue.  I liked The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey and while I was a little concerned about Jackson's intention to expand the book to include new material, I am pleased that he actually took it up a notch.  Is it different than his Lord of the Rings? No, at least not in the first release, but it is well worth the time and the money.  Jackson has moved beyond the children's version and created a true prequel that is clever and well cast and not your father's -- not my -- Hobbit.

*By the way, I went to see it in IMAX 3D with the new 48 per second frames.  I really didn't notice a difference in the detail, but the expanse of the movie and the 3Dworks well.  I was also in full geek mode because if you choose that option you get a special IMAX short - eight minutes from the next Star Trek: Into Darkness.  It looks good.