“There’s a little bit of ‘geek’ and ‘hero’ in all of us.”
Even if I hadn’t heard about Rise of the Fellowship through the grapevine of friends and current and future colleagues, its likely that this film still would have crossed my path. I am a Lord of the Rings fan—both Tolkien’s literary masterwork and Peter Jackson’s cinematic adaptation (which I rambled on about just a few posts ago)—as well as a fan of fantasy and sci-fi in general and an independent filmmaker myself. However, I’m not generally a fan of parodies or spoof-style movies so I had some initial concern that Fellow’s Hip—as it was called then—was going to be something more along those lines; a perfectly pleasant romp that, while clever in its delivery, still just retold the same story with a different setting and vernacular.
I was delighted to find, though, that this was not the case at all. The film is distinct and entirely its own, which, truly, is its biggest strength.
Front and center confession: while I don’t claim to be a full-tilt Tolkien purist – I have not read The Silmarillion, The Unfinished Tales and it’s been awhile since I’ve wound my way through the Appendices of the Rings Trilogy – The Hobbit is my favorite of the material I have read by Tolkien. I adore The Lord of the Rings, but Bilbo’s story holds a very special place in my heart and, as such, it would be impossible for me to be objective regarding the adaptation of the book…especially when the 300-odd page children’s book is being adapted into not one, not two, but three films to be a companion series to the Rings franchise.
The Hobbit was my first foray into Middle-Earth. I know I’m not alone in that; it is, after all, the chronological first chapter in the story regarding the Baggins family and the predecessor to The Lord of the Rings. I usually consider myself one of the kids who transformed from non-reader to bookworm with the meeting of one Harry James Potter, but reading The Hobbit actually came first and embodies a personal literary landmark in my life. Fantasy is my favorite genre, very closely followed by Historical Fiction and Tolkien is largely to blame for that. I have a significantly greater appreciation for Rings than I would have if I hadn’t read The Hobbit first. I even remember feeling bitterly disappointed that Fellowship of the Ring shifted focus away from Bilbo so early in the story. I complained – quite colorfully – that I didn’t really care to get to know a whole new protagonist; why should I care about this Frodo kid? Why couldn’t we follow Bilbo to Rivendell instead?