Monday Morning Quarterback Part II


December 19, 2013

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Kim Hollis: Do you believe that the perception of the original Lord of the Rings trilogy is being diminished by what is transpiring with the Hobbit films?

Edwin Davies: I'm not sure how the original trilogy is being perceived by most people nowadays, but the Hobbit films haven't diminished The Lord of the Rings films for me, personally. They still stand up as technically ambitious and innovative works of fantasy and spectacle, and their influence is still being felt today through Game of Thrones, a series whose scale would have been unimaginable without The Lord of the Rings. Also, since they aren't as universally derided as the Star Wars prequels, and instead are seen as just mediocre, I think the damage to the Lord of the Rings brand has been much more limited than if the films were seen as abominations across the board.

Matthew Huntley: No, because I don't think it was ever anticipated The Hobbit films would ever be as good as LOTR, and so far the franchise - with its muted reviews and box-office returns - is merely confirming that. Fans took the original series much more seriously; whereas they view The Hobbit as purely supplemental (though hardly essential) fun. Besides, I don't think anyone thinks The Hobbit movies are outright bad; just sort of mediocre. And to piggyback on Edwin's Stars Wars prequels comparison, I don't think anybody is walking away angry from these films angry (unlike George Lucas' travesties). Apathetic, yes; but p.o.'d, not so much.


Felix Quinonez: I don't think so. I feel (and I think others do too) that The Hobbit is its own series of movies and I judge them separately from the LOTR. I know story wise they are related but I still feel like they are two different franchises. I felt the same way with the Star Wars prequels. I viewed them as a completely different thing from the older movies. And the prequels did not make me love the REAL Star Wars movies any less.

On the other hand The Matrix sequels did tarnish the original for me. Because those movies were part of the same franchise in a more direct way.

Kim Hollis: It doesn't change how I feel about the original films, and I think this extends to most people. In fact, I felt like I wanted to go back and watch the originals so I could go back to the more magical, deep illustration of the same world. But honestly, the book The Hobbit itself isn't nearly as good as The Lord of the Rings books, so at least there's some consistency there, I guess.

Bruce Hall: I guess to a degree this depends on perception, because I'm not sure there's any way to quantify it. People do tend to view the past through the prism of the present and therefore slightly out of context, so I am sure there will be revisionists who apply their dislike of the new films to the old ones. But my sense is that the Hobbit films are widely viewed as less creatively robust and satisfying than the original trilogy and if anything, they have reinforced the good will many still have toward all three LOTR films. To see a similar example look no further than the Star Wars franchise, where three horrifyingly awful films in a row caused people to rhapsodize about the original trilogy, often to a highly exaggerated degree.

I love Star Wars as much as the next guy but the original movies weren't THAT good. The new ones were just THAT bad.

But in this case, I think that the LOTR films remain as strong as they ever were and that while inferior, the Hobbit series doesn't land anywhere near Jar-Jar Binks territory. I think fans are disappointed entirely because the first trilogy was so powerful and engaging. This time around the emotional investment is not there, and the experience feels empty and incomplete. The complaints you hear are not all hyperbole and nostalgia, it's recognition of the fact that while by no means perfect, Peter Jackson's original vision of Middle Earth really did represent an almost unprecedented creative triumph.

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