This Friday, all your Tolkien-loving hearts will burst when The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey finally hits theaters. Ian McKellan will be there, Andy Serkis will be there, amazing Middle Earth scenery will be there, and Martin Freeman with hairy feet will most definitely be there. Sounds great. But guys, there’s something we need to ask, and it isn’t going to go over well. But...um...ohboyhereitgoes: What if it sucks?
You’re probably yelling at the screen and fuming with rage. But we have to talk about this, because it could happen.
First of all, we can’t pretend like splitting this book into three movies was necessary, or not at all motivated by ticket sales. ‘Cause let’s recap.
Fellowship of the Ring? 458-page book, one movie.
The Two Towers? 398-page book, one movie.
The Return of the King? 340-page book, one movie.
The Hobbit? 305-page book....trilogy?
And it’s not like the individual pieces are going to be thin, either. This first installment is almost three hours, and, given Peter Jackson’s track record with running times (spoiler alert: they’re all really long), we have to assume the next two movies will be about the same length. That’s going to give us a total of about 510 minutes for 305 pages. You can argue that Peter Jackson is just determined to make the best possible adaptation, but this seems a tad excessive.
A glance at the cast list explains why Jackson might have needed extra time: He’s rewriting a good chunk of the source material. Remember in The Hobbit when Galadriel and Saruman showed up to Bilbo’s dwarf party, but they both brought the same dip and totally threw off the snack spread? You probably don’t, because, for reasons unknown, it didn’t happen.
In fact, neither character exists in The Hobbit, yet they seem to have nabbed significant roles in this trilogy. (Legolas will also appear in The Hobbit: There and Back Again and, somehow, Frodo is showing up in all three movies.) Writing these characters in could be a cool way to integrate the LOTR mythology into this trilogy, but it could also be forced and weird, like that time you tried to make that Doctor Who joke happen and it was just not the right crowd.
Lastly, a very film nerd-specific concern: These movies are shot in 48 fps. Unless you read books on cinematography for fun, this jargon may mean nothing to you. So lesson time! Fps means frames per second, and basically all movies are filmed at 24 fps. Jackson chose to shoot at a higher rate because he thought 48 fps would look crisper and smoother. But people who have already seen the movie complain that it actually looks kinda plasticy, and that the higher frame rate will literally make you sick.
Now, it’s not like you’ll be forced to watch the movie in 48 fps—only some theaters across the country will have it—but The Hobbit in 3D with 48 fps is supposed to be the ideal, premium movie experience according to Jackson. So if you’re staying true to his vision, you have to see it in a possibly pukey format.
Okay, so there are some things to worry about. But there are also plenty of things to be excited about, and excitement is way more fun than nervousness. So forget everything you just read and start counting down to Friday again. Keep repeating, "This will be great! It will be great! It will be great!"
Are you at all nervous about The Hobbit?