Tag Archives: LOTR

How The Hobbit Will (and Won’t) be Like the Star Wars Prequels

Posters for The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey and Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace

As the release date approaches for the first movie in The Hobbit triogy, I find myself comparing the circumstances to the Star Wars prequels. Why? In both cases you have…

  • A visionary director returning to…
  • A high-profile trilogy set in a fantastical world…
  • After years away…
  • To tell a prequel set a generation earlier…
  • Including significant events that set up the other story (Vader’s turn to the dark side and the rise of the Empire, Bilbo finding the One Ring and the Necromancer of Mirkwood).
  • Some cast are returning as younger versions of the same characters (Palpatine, C-3PO, Gandalf, Elrond)
  • Other characters have been recast (Obi-Wan, Bilbo).

But of course, Star Wars isn’t Lord of the Rings, and Peter Jackson isn’t George Lucas. Let’s look at four big differences.

1. Time

The Phantom Menace came out 22 years after Star Wars: A New Hope and 14 years after Return of the Jedi. An entire generation of children grew up with the original trilogy and were adults by the time the prequels started. And with 14 years of no Star Wars films, the prequels had to justify the wait.

With Lord of the Rings, it’s only been 10 years since Fellowship of the Ring, and 8 since Return of the King. We’ve spent half the time away from Middle Earth as we did from that galaxy far, far away. Children have become teenagers, and teenagers have become adults, but there isn’t quite the same level of “My childhood is back!” nostalgia that could make or break the films for a large section of the audience.

2. Directorial Experience

According to IMDB, George Lucas stopped directing after the first Star Wars film in 1977. He kept writing and producing, of course, but he hadn’t directed a film in two decades when he picked up The Phantom Menace

Peter Jackson may have slowed down a bit, but between wrapping up the extended edition of Return of the King in 2004 and picking up The Hobbit in 2010, he’s directed King Kong and The Lovely Bones.

3. Source Material

This is a big one. The Star Wars saga was an original story by George Lucas. When he wrote Episodes I-III, he was free to do anything he wanted as long as it didn’t contradict Episodes IV-VI. The Hobbit films are based on Tolkien’s novel, the appendices from Lord of the Rings, and his published notes. The core of the story is a lot more well-established.

4. Executive Meddling Potential

Zillionaire George Lucas wrote, directed and produced the Star Wars prequels, financing them himself. Nobody was in a position to tell him no. On one hand, this is good, because there weren’t any suits with more money than talent to tell him to add an extra car chase here, or add a love triangle there, and does Revenge of the Sith *really* need to be PG-13, can’t we dial down the violence a bit? On the other hand, it also meant no one could say, “George, don’t you think Jar-Jar is a little over the top?” or “This fireplace scene just isn’t working.”

Peter Jackson lucked out with the Lord of the Rings trilogy in being able to mostly do his own thing. But the legal battles and rights-wrangling that have caused The Hobbit to take so long to reach the screen indicate that the studios might be trying to exert their influence to “protect” their investment (which usually seems to involve killing the goose that lays the golden eggs). Certainly the decision to stretch the story out to three movies sounds like the studio trying to multiply their ticket sales, though I can also see Jackson and Weta deciding that this is their last chance to explore Middle Earth, so they might as well make the most of it.

Well, it’s just one week until The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey opens and we all get to see how it turned out. One thing that’s definitely changed for me: Unlike Episode I, there’s not a chance that I’ll be standing in line for hours to see a midnight (or 2AM) showing. I can wait until Saturday afternoon.

Lord of the Rings as an “Event” Comic Book

Today, I watched Green Lantern at the same theater where we’ve been watching a series of special screenings of the extended-edition Lord of the Rings movies. Afterward, thinking about the two ring-focused stories and the in-progress event comic book Flashpoint, I found myself imagining: What would The Lord of the Rings have been like as a modern “event” comic book like Final Crisis or Blackest Night?

No doubt it would have tie-ins, side stories, spinoffs, and a bunch of extra tie-ins added to plug the inevitable gaps in the schedule. Check out my full list at Speed Force!

LOTR Extended on Blu-Ray!

LOTR Extended Edition Blu-RayAmazon has started taking pre-orders for The Lord of the Rings (Extended) on Blu-Ray! I didn’t bother with the theatrical editions, partly because we didn’t have an HD-TV at the time, and partly because we both prefer the extended editions (even if they do take 11 hours to get through the whole trilogy).

I jumped at this one, though. Having recently watched Fellowship of the Ring on a big-screen TV on DVD, I could see places where the higher definition would really help. Battle sequences especially.

It’s worth considering that I still haven’t pre-ordered the Star Wars saga on Blu-Ray.

Links: Traffic, Scott Pilgrim, Soviet Hobbit, Facts, Moon, Toyota and New Spice

Want to see what Los Angeles traffic looks like on a typical Friday evening? You can! A co-worker pointed out to me that you can view statistical traffic on Google Maps in addition to live traffic. To see it, go to Google Maps, enable traffic, then look at the inset traffic key and hit “change.” You’ll be able to choose a day of the week and time.

A Scott Pilgrim fan tracked down the real-life locations in Toronto that Brian Lee O’Malley used as reference, then took photos to match them up with the comic panels.

It reminds me of a story that O’Malley told at Comic-Con last(?) year about the movie production. They tried to use actual locations when possible, and at one point went to film a scene with a particular phone booth, only to find it had been torn out. They rebuilt the phone booth for the scene!

How To Be a Retronaut has a fascinating gallery of illustrations from the 1976 Soviet edition of The Hobbit. (via @dixonium)

Copyblogger presents: Five Grammatical Errors that Make You Look Dumb. Please, people: learn the differences between your and you’re, and between they’re, their and there! (via This Is True)

A university library has put together a great parody of the Old Spice ad campaign: Study Like a Scholar, Scholar. (also via This Is True )

NPR story: In Politics, Sometimes The Facts Don’t Matter

New research suggests that misinformed people rarely change their minds when presented with the facts — and often become even more attached to their beliefs. The finding raises questions about a key principle of a strong democracy: that a well-informed electorate is best.

This makes me feel a little less enthused about the next two items:

It’s incredibly cool that we’ve got photos of the Apollo 16 landing site. But that won’t convince people who are absolutely certain that the landings were faked.

And a U.S. Department of Transportation investigation of Toyota crashes blamed on sudden acceleration has implicated driver error in nearly all cases. Of the 75 fatal crashes investigates, only one could be verified as a problem with the vehicle: the Lexus crash last August in which the accelerator was caught on the floor mat, leading to a recall. Of course, the court of popular opinion has already made up its mind…