The Hobbit: A Prequel Most Welcome

It’s easy to decry the Hollywood machine for sharting out one half-assed reboot/remake/reimagining/re-whatever after another. Like, really easy. I’m sort of doing it right now. But as long as the people in charge operate under assumptions like “outdated board games + movies = profit” or “fat suits are universally hysterical,” I see no reason to stop.

Still, it’s been a pretty solid twenty years for cinematic nostalgia. Comic books, for example, have been around for nearly a century, but ours is the first generation to truly watch them come to life in ways our nine-year-old selves could only salivate about. Sure, you have to take some Ghost Riders with your Watchmen, but that’s a small price to pay in exchange for all the 3D ass-kickery Technicolor couldn’t deliver. I never really reflected on how spoiled we are, however, until I heard Michael Bay was in the process of single-handedly “ruining” our collective childhood. With alien turtles.

So few of these words belong in the same sentence together. Thanks, TMZ.

Yikes, talk about a hyperbolic (and overly entitled) backlash. For the record, I loved the original TMNT as a kid (i.e., the cartoons and first live-action film), but even if this new, laughably ill-conceived project somehow comes to fruition (pizza-ition?), I’m confident my childhood will remain rape-free for years to come. Here’s why: a) that headline up there is retarded, b) we do not possess the technology to sodomize time, and c) if we did, Michael Bay wouldn’t be put in charge of it. I hope future archeologists don’t put too much stock in the Internet, because to hear Facebook tell it, that man is some kind of time-traveling fire-crotch antichrist.

(Get ready for the best transitional sentence ever.)

But you know who hasn’t been sodomizing anything lately? Peter Jackson and Guillermo del Toro. Between the Lord of the Rings trilogy and Pan’s Labyrinth, those two are OK in my book ad infinitum. Which is why I trust them 100% with a live-action version of The Hobbit: these guys are intimately familiar with (and passionate about) the detailed universe J.R.R. Tolkien created, and at least one of them knows how to bring that universe to life with aplomb.

I’ve got a long history with the Shire, too. The animated version of this tale (circa 1977) was one of my favorite movies between the ages of 6 and 12. True, this flick might not set a high bar for Jackson & Co. at first glance, but it’s responsible for getting me hooked on Middle Earth to begin with; I found it awesomely easy to get lost in Tolkien’s world. (The Hobbit was also my first novel.)  That said, I’m anticipating a sodomy-free interpretation of this childhood staple come Christmastime. Here’s what I’m looking forward to:


Let’s start with the obvious. As a red-blooded American male, nine-year-old TJ liked him some dragons. And despite animated Smaug’s formidable voice—he sounds like a drunken ex-con who recently ate a bowl of gravel—just look at that thing. I’m sure I’d change my tune if he was hurtling at my face from the sky, but 1977 Smaug is simply not the most badass of dragons. He looks like the chubby love child of a saber-toothed cat-lizard and Dog the Bounty Hunter.

Luckily, Jackson’s crew appears to be giving Smaug the attention he deserves, and I can’t wait for the big reveal. Personally, I envision him as a more vicious iteration of Draco from Dragonheart.

The Battle of Five Armies

For obvious reasons, this battle scene was largely absent from the animated film, but I’m sure Jackson will toe the line with how much man-on-goblin-on-Warg violence he can get away with. There’s so much going on with so many characters at once; it will be interesting to see where (and when) he turns the camera’s focus.

Mirkwood Forest

This is a great backdrop and all, but let’s cut to the chase. I’m not actually looking forward to anything that goes down in Mirkwood. You know why? Because it’s got a creepy-ass forest that looks like the perfect spot for a herd of giant spiders. Which it is. As I’ve mentioned before, I’m no friend of spiders, and you can bet I won’t be watching An Unexpected Journey in 3D.  The day that not one, but a dozen Shelobs start leaping at my face in hi-def is not the day for extra excuses to poop myself.

Trolls and Goblins

In the animated movie, Bilbo and his dwarf companions get snatched up early on by a few hungry (and heavily congested?) trolls. Gandalf shows up before they can pull out the recipe books, but I always thought those trolls were hilarious—in a macabre sort of way. I hope they get more screen time in this next go-around.

As for the goblins, I’m looking forward to seeing how their world operates a bit more. In the LOTR films, orcs are mostly depicted as disposable peons, but in The Hobbit, our protagonists find themselves on (presumably) Saruman-free goblin turf. If it doesn’t detract from the narrative’s pacing, I’d definitely like to see Jackson and del Toro’s version of a Misty Mountain goblin city. And isn’t there a goblin king or something in the mix? (I kind of just like saying the word ‘goblin,’ I think.)


If you’ve seen the 1977 Hobbit, you already know that thing isn’t too far off from a musical. But music is absolutely a central part of the Tolkien universe, and Jackson makes this loud and clear in An Unexpected Journey’s debut trailer:


All right, that’s a good start, but it’s not a party until the Goblin Quartet arrives.


See? Some things never change. It just goes to show there’s nothing “uncool” about bursting into spontaneous baritone harmonies if you’ve got a battle axe in hand (Ed. note: there is, and TJ is no longer welcome at Unreality’s bi-monthly karaoke nights).

  • DocDoom

    What’s awesome is, in “Fellowship”, you can see the stone versions of those Trolls at an early camp the Hobbit crew make. It’ll be interesting to see if Jackson makes them look exactly like that. He’s very good with canon, so I have to assume he will.

  • trashcanman

    This film has not gotten enough hype. Nice refresher of reasons why this movie should kick loads of ass. I’m arachnophobic so seeing Mirkwood brought to life will creep me the hell out. And everything is better with dragons. I’m really looking forward to seeing Jackson’s take on Beorn as well. Bring The Hobbit on!

  • nimmy

    For those who dont know, theres a video-blog about the film (7 episodes so far), like how they (re-)build the Shire, their hunting for locations and lots of other stuff. Funny to watch.
    I highly recommend it. Gets you really fired up for the movie. 🙂

  • Blackjack

    Nice article TJ. It’s great to see the animated “Hobbit” film get some love.
    I’m pretty sure close to a year went by when I was around 7 that I picked out “The Hobbit” as my rental every single time we went to the video store.
    In addition, when I was learning to read, I had a storybook version of that movie (with artwork taken directly from the film). It came with a cassette tape that narrated the book, with voices and sound effects and (of course) music. I loved that thing to death. I actually still have the storybook; I found it in my mom’s basement and snatched it up to bring it home and cherish forever! As for the cassette, it was ruined when I got in a fight with my older sister over who got to use the tape deck (she wanted to listen to David Bowie “Let’s Dance”) and she took the Hobbit tape and threw it out a second story window. I love my sister now, but man was she mean when we were kids…

  • Cameron

    Sorry, i just have to disagree on this one. It ticks me off that they’re making yet another money-grab by turning the book into two movies. And also, it’s backwards. The Hobbit is a much softer, much less intricate tale than LOTR. In short it’s a lot more fun and light-hearted and relies a lot on adventure and humor. But as a follow-up to the brilliant LOTR trilogy, it seems like it’s going to be much more ponderous and solemn and weighted with foreshadowing and symbolism. That’s just not how I think of the book at all. The book stands alone and holds no inkling of where the story would develop in LOTR. Peter Jackson and Co. are TRYING TOO HARD – and having to follow LOTR they really can’t help it.