I have committed an egregious blunder that makes people gasp in horror when I recount it. Until this past summer, I had never watched a “Lord of the Rings” movie. Before I receive unwarranted criticism, I must explain that I did read “The Hobbit” when I was younger so, in my defense, I was at least familiar with the books. On a slow night in August, my friend lightly coerced me into watching the first installment of the new “Hobbit” trilogy and I was hooked. The music, beautiful landscapes and driving energy of the film totally won me over. My sudden obsession with the “Lord of the Rings” movies arose from a desire to make up for being more than a decade behind the times. Within the next week, I had watched “The Fellowship of the Ring” and “The Two Towers,” as well as all the behind the scenes footage I could get my hands on.
When explaining my mistake to people, I seem to use the “Harry Potter” books and movies as a crutch and claim I was distracted by my fascination with them, thus causing me to ignore Peter Jackson’s films as they came out. While this is true, the more truthful reason is I have always had an aversion toward movies that rely heavily on special effects such as green screens or CGI (computer generated imagery). Mediocre acting and a subpar plot can be masked with modern technology and a ridiculous budget to somehow become a box office success.
However, an engaging plot and excellent acting coupled with the magic created by special effects is an immersive movie experience that I wholly support, and that is exactly what Peter Jackson’s films achieve. I also appreciate that the films can be enjoyed on multiple levels. The “Lord of the Rings” movies can simply be a fantastic escape – a compelling take on the quest or hero’s journey, or a warning on the effects of war and the destructive temptation of power.
Another issue I have traditionally had with movies like “The Hobbit” is that I find 3D movies to just be a way to monkey a little with whatever is in the foreground of the shot and hike up ticket prices. Once again, Peter Jackson has proved me wrong. While I watched “The Hobbit” at home with surround sound, I can see how the experience would have been enhanced seeing it in a theater in 3D.
In one of the production videos I watched on YouTube, Jackson and the film crew explained the new 3D methods employed on the latest film and the rationale behind them. When that much thought and effort goes into tailoring 3D to heighten the audience’s enjoyment, then I completelysupport it. I have already marked the December release of the second installment of “The Hobbit” on my calendar. Abandoning my previous beliefs, I will watch the movie in 3D and marvel at the special effects. After all, I have to put “Toy Story 3”, my disappointing and only experience with 3D, behind me.