The Hobbit: A Die-Hard Fan’s Expectations

I’m very vocal about my love to J.R.R Tolkien’s Middle Earth and all its glory – both the novels and film. The Lord of the Rings holds the top spot in both my favorite books and favorite films of all time. I was young when I first read The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings so they hold a special place in my heart. Contrary to most Tolkien die-hards, I absolutely love Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings films form the early 2000s. I feel that he did the books as much justice as possible – appealing to hardcore fans, respecting the novel and its lore, and still making it as commercially approachable and successful as possible. I love those films, they’re fantastic. I’m proud to boast that I’ve spent – some say wasted – an entire day watching the extended editions in succession which runs about 11 hours and 30 minutes. 11 and a half hours of pure joy and excitement for this LOTR obsessed geek.

I’m stoked for The Hobbit. However, that does not mean that I don’t have some worries about the upcoming films.

3 Films for a 300 page book.

When The Hobbit was first released I was ecstatic. The news of two films was even more exciting. But, the news of a third had me a bit worried.

Hear me out – one film wouldn’t have been enough. Things would have been too rushed, even at 3 hours. PJ hates to skip on any detail – regardless of importance – and there are too many “big” scenes: the trolls, Rivendell, the ring and Gollum, Beorn, Mirkwood and the river, Smaug, the battle of five armies and so on. Those are just the big points – there is plenty of content that would have been missed if it was limited to one film. Two films seemed perfect to me. PJ gets to tell a very detailed story and we don’t get rushed through any important scenes. Great! Exactly what I want. But, a third film was eventually announced.

Three films seems a little excessive to me. And this is coming from someone who can’t get enough of Middle Earth. I know that PJ is pulling a lot of extra story content from The Lord of the Rings appendices and everything, so it make a little more sense. Still, there were three films for a ~1200 page Lord of the Rings story and, at least in my mind, they turned out great. Now we’re getting 3 films for a ~300 page book and some appendices?

Yes, I’m aware at how much content is in those appendices. I get it. But it still has me worried. I’m worried that the films aren’t going to come across as coherent when not viewed simultaneously or they will feel drawn out and bloated. I’m not sold on the need for three films and I don’t think I will be able to make a decision until I see the entire finished product.

48 FPS and its Impact

I’m not about to give you the entire history on frame rates and what not. I will summarize it if you’re not familiar; due to new technologies avalibe PJ was able to shoot The Hobbit in 48 frames-per-second. This means it has twice as many frames per second than a standard film you’d see in theater. This increase in fps gives the film an incredibly clear picture. Almost too clear for some. The result is a film that is so clear that it looks like a film set – or so I’ve read. Originally, The Hobbit was supposed to be shown almost exclusively in 48 fps but apparently it will only be getting a limited release now.

I was definitely worried about this until I learned of the limited release scope for the 48fps version. It isn’t that I don’t think 48fps is good, I’m just not familiar with it enough to be too stoked on it. My first viewing will be in 24fps and the second will probably be the whole shebang – IMAX, 3D, 48fps.

Green Screen and Digital Effects

Sounds weird right? Why would I be worried about PJ and WETA’s digital effects? I’m not really worried about the effects so to speak, but more in how they’re used.

PJ isn’t afraid to show his love for digital shots and characters. In the 9th production video, he highlights how motion capture and digital effects are doing away with stunt doubles and re-shoots. While this is great, and potentially more cost effective, it is a little bit disheartening. There is something magical about a massive set or the perfect location that I hope doesn’t get lost in all the green-screen. From what I’ve gathered The Hobbit will have more sets, green-screens, and overall digital effects than The Lord of the Rings which is a bit troublesome. However, the digital effects look like some of the best we’ve seen in a film to date.

Final Word

Now, regardless of the hesitations I’ve noted here, I fully trust Peter Jackson and his decisions. If he thinks 3 films is best, welp, then I guess I do also. My expectations are high and I have all the faith in the world that PJ will meet them.


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