A Long-Expected Movie

Bilbo Baggins (center) surrounded by his dwarf company.

There are certain movies and series of movies that captivate audiences, taking them to worlds one can only dream of while captivating them for years to comeStar Wars immediately comes to mind (well, at least the first three Star Wars that were made, nobody ever needed Jar Jar Binks).

For many people all around the world Star Wars almost became a religion. The way it jumped off the screen and into the lives of millions of people was extraordinary and something that rarely occurs with movies. Especially for those associated with Generation X and the first part of Generation Y the first Star Wars trilogy became something to worship.

Over the years these movies have evolved into an entire empire. From conventions to TV Series to action figures, Star Wars is just about everywhere you can think of. With such a devoted fan base that still finds themselves reuniting with their friends for yet another Star Wars marathon, it’s not hard to imagine why these movies have opened the eyes of many to careers that they would never have dreamed of.

Star Wars truly launched a revolution of individuals fascinated with the latest graphics technology, computer programming, and mechanical engineering; industries that have been at the forefront of our society’s technological revolution.

And while Star Wars still holds a very fond place in the minds of millions throughout the world today, there is another series of movies that the latest generation, Generation Y, has been shaped by: The Lord of the Rings.

The Lord of the Rings trilogy took us into the mind of Tolkein and the world of Middle Earth
The Lord of the Rings trilogy took us into the mind of Tolkein and the world of Middle Earth

The Lord of the Rings, just like Star Wars, is an entirely different world in its own right. Crafted by the genius mind of J.R.R. Tolkein after he returned from his adventures in World War I, this collection of novels and stories created a world completely separate of ours decades before Star Wars was first imagined. With the “main” story being found in a collection of stories that includes The Hobbit, The Fellowship of the Ring, The Two Towers, and The Return of the King, Tolkein shaped what would become the epic genre, creating a place known as Middle-Earth that was filled with men, elves, dwarfs, orcs, wizards, and most importantly, hobbits. 

Over the years these series of novels and stories collected their own following of devoted individuals who were enamored with the way Tolkein brought to life a fantasy world that had never been thought of.

Though there were animated films and skits dedicated to The Lord of the Rings as film became a popular new medium, the classic novel reached new heights when Peter Jackson, once a relatively unheard of director from New Zealand, finally got hold of the technology that would allow him to fulfill his long-time dream and bring the epic series to the big screen.

Almost nine years after initial planning and production had been started, The Lord of the Rings finished its first stint on the big screen by sweeping all categories it was nominated for in the Academy Awards for its conclusion, The Return of the King. The winnings also included the award for Best Picture.


Bilbo Baggins (center) surrounded by his dwarf company.
Bilbo Baggins (center) surrounded by his dwarf company.

The first trilogy brought audiences right into the world of Middle-Earth, letting them finally see the world that they had imagined for so many years. These movies, while they did draw  in the dedicated fans of the books, were also very important in revitalizing the fantasy genre as well as bringing an entirely new audience, Generation Y, into the world of The Lord of the Rings

For Generation Y, these movies quickly became what Star Wars was to their preceding generation; they simply could not get enough of them.

From a soundtrack that inspired many to take up writing to the visualizations that once again reinvigorated a passion for graphics technology, The Lord of the Rings started its own revolution. In fact, it was once hard to imagine a household not playing at least one of the movies during the course of a week.

And, after nine long years of anticipation and browsing the latest rumors, audiences will once again depart for Middle-Earth when The Hobbit reaches theaters all around the world tonight.

Like the second Star Wars trilogy, The Hobbit will explore the beginnings of what would become The Fellowship of the Ring, The Two Towers, and The Return of the King. Unlike the second Star Wars trilogy, however, The Hobbit actually has a critically acclaimed story that it will work off of, not some mindless babbling, profit driven, story by George Lucas.

Though The Hobbit is the shortest of the novels in The Lord of the Rings series, it is widely heralded as being the best book of them all as it establishes the basis and gives audiences their first taste of Middle-Earth. And, while the book was initially planned to be broken up into two movies, Peter Jackson has decided to create more of a bridge between the two trilogies by creating three movies: The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey (2012), The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug (2013), and The Hobbit: There and Back Again.

Bilbo Baggins (Martin Freeman) and the famous sword, Sting.
Bilbo Baggins (Martin Freeman) and the famous sword, Sting.

Originally planned to consist of two movies, Peter Jackson and company decided they had more than enough material to work with and expanded the series into a trilogy in late July. The move, unexpected to say the least, will provide for the bridging between The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings. 

The first movie will be an introduction back into the land of Middle-Earth, exploring the initial relationship between Bilbo Baggins, Gandalf, and the dwarf company, of which Thorin is their leader. The film will once again bring back Gollum, the wicked creature who is “possessed” by the powers of the One Ring.

The second and third films, scheduled for release in December 2013 and July 2014, look to pack more of a punch. The second film will be about the dwarves trying to reclaim Erebor from the Smaug, a dragon that has stolen their treasure and claimed their land for his own. The third film, which will in all likelihood be the last time viewers are treated to The Lord of the Rings, will be about Bilbo’s return to The Shire as well as The Five Armies War, one of the most prolific battles in The Lord of the Rings lore.

As can be deduced, An Unexpected Journey will not pack the punch that Lord of the Rings fans grew accustomed to in The Two Towers and The Return of the King. And, unfortunately for some critics, they went into their showing thinking that the first film in The Hobbit trilogy would be just as grand as the final film in The Lord of the Rings. 

What one must understand when going to view this welcoming back to Middle-Earth is that it is meant to be exactly an introduction back to the world of The Lord of the Rings; having a lot of the plot set in The Shire while introducing you to new characters that you will fall in love with and reuniting you with Gandalf, Bilbo (though a much younger version), Galadriel, and Elrond.

Though the movie will undoubtedly pick up towards the middle of the film (and it is rumored that the initial scene between Gollum and Bilbo is breathtaking), just like The Fellowship of the Ring, expect Peter Jackson to set the storyline and tone for what is surely to be one of the best trilogies since, well, The Lord of the Rings. 

While we will all have to wait for the second and third movies in the series just like we did The Two Towers and The Return of the KingThe Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey will be a great way to once again immerse ourselves in one of the greatest stories ever told.

Because, for many, this has been a long-expected movie. 

The Hobbit will open tonight at 12:01 and can be seen at a wide-range of theaters in the Eugene area, including Regal Cinemas at Valley River Center and the Cinemark at Gateway Mall. 

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