The Hobbit… As A Trilogy?

*UPDATE* Peter Jackson just confirmed on Facebook that there will be three Hobbit movies. Well…let’s just hope this works out well. Read the note on Facebook here.

Yikes.

I think it’s fairly clear that I love Tolkien and Lord of the Rings, both books and movies. I’m super excited about The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey coming out in December and that There and Back again will be coming out in December 2013. Or at least I was.

If you’ve been paying attention to the rumors/news about The Hobbit, you’ll have heard about Peter Jackson’s desire to film a third movie. And if you haven’t, here’s the video:

Soooo. A third Hobbit movie. What’s the point?

Sure, Jackson has proven that he knows and loves Middle Earth. His choices in the movies weren’t always the best (like Faramir taking Frodo and the Ring to Osgiliath or Frodo telling Sam to leave and Sam ACTUALLY LEAVING HIM when they were climbing the stairs into Mordor. That part still gripes me) but the end result was a beautiful film trilogy that stayed true to the books.

I’m not worried that the two Hobbit movies will be anything less than spectacular because of this. But how in the world will he stretch out a short book, that is decidedly more juvenile than the Lord of the Rings, into three good movies?

We all know Jackson is adding in material from the White Council (hence the appearance of Galadriel in the trailer). He also has the rights to other material in the appendices from the Lord of the Rings. So it seems that Jackson has two options to make three films. He could either shorten 1 and 2 to make a 3rd. Or he can pad out (a lot) all three movies, primarily through the battle scenes. (Ideas here taken from this great OneRing article.)

If this is what Jackson is planning on doing than I think it’s a horrible idea. It seems unnecessary and greedy to stretch out such a short and simple book into what would become an overblown trilogy. The Hobbit (book) just does not have the heft and depth to fill out three movies.

But that OneRing.net article mentioned above also suggested a third option: that The Hobbit will stay as two movies and that a third yet separate movie will be made as a sort of bridge movie. This is an idea I could get behind. Theoretically, this bridge movie would have a lot of the background and history that’s given in the appendices and provide a connective link between the story of The Hobbit and the events in The Lord of the Rings. This technically wouldn’t be a third Hobbit movie but a separate thing entirely.

Honestly though, two Hobbit movies is enough in my opinion. How many people actually read the appendices…and enjoy them? I’m not saying some people don’t; I, for one, am a huge history and genealogy fan, both real and imagined. But not even I would think that the appendices would fill out an interesting and (key word here) coherent movie.

Again from theonering.net, this interesting collection of tweets about the possible Hobbit trilogy.

Other opinions?

The Magicians

Written by Lev Grossman, published 2009.

Imagine (and this probably won’t be too hard) that you grew up loving the Chronicle of Narnia books by C.S. Lewis. Imagine you read the books over and over and dreamed that one day you too could go to Narnia just like the Pevensie children. Now imagine growing up and finding out that the Narnia books were true. No, I don’t mean that one morning you pop in a wardrobe and pop out in Narnia. I mean imagine that you found out the Pevensie children were real and that they really had gone to a magical land called Narnia and now you’re going too. Oh and also, you’re a magician.

That is essentially what Grossman’s The Magicians is about. I was initially drawn to the story for its Narnia elements but I had heard two things about the book that made me nervous. One, that it was Harry Potter for grown-ups (see my views on Harry here) and two, that it was really depressing. I finally just checked the book out and started reading. I ended up really enjoying it.

Quentin Coldwater is a stereotypical post-modern, big city teenager. He’s bored, cynical, and deeply unhappy with his life yet he’s incredibly intelligent and loves to do magic tricks. He ends up at Brakebills, the only magical college in North America where he spends the next five years learning how to be a real magician and not just one doing parlor tricks for friends. And eventually, he goes to Narnia. Except here, it’s called Fillory and Quentin grew up reading about the adventures of the Chatwin children and their adventures there. Fillory needs saving and Quentin and his friends are just the people for the job. Don’t want to be too spoilerish here so I’ll just leave it at that.

The book was a bit depressing. Quentin is unhappy when we meet him, unhappy at Brakebills, and unhappy in Fillory. He keeps thinking that the next thing, whatever that is, will make him happy and it doesn’t. Sex and drinking tends to be the way he drowns that sorrow. Also, magic in Grossman’s world isn’t particularly, well, magical. It’s almost like really complicated math that depends on the “Circumstances” such as weather, location, time of day, and a million other little things. Plus, a certain amount of will and maybe innate talent too. Honestly, the instructors at Brakebills aren’t entirely sure. Sometimes things work. Sometimes they don’t. So maybe it’s not so much like math.

This is actually one book where the Harry Potter comparison works. That is if Harry Potter was in college and written by somebody with some skill as an author. (Sorry Potter fans, I just really don’t like those books that much.) The time at Brakebills takes up most of the book and the friends Quentin makes there are his helpers and companions in what comes later.

Overall, I really liked the book. A sequel, called The Magician King, is already out and I will be reading it as soon as I can get my hands on it.

Game Updates

Comic-Con happened in San Diego last weekend with lots of great stuff coming out from it. This was pretty exciting:

That’s a pretty amazing list, not only of characters but actors too! Season 3 will begin on March 31, 2013. And from what I’ve heard/read, the third book (A Storm of Swords) will be split up into 2 tv seasons. Yay? I guess that means they’ll just get to go more in-depth with the story.

 

Also exciting: the cast list for Ender’s Game the movie. A nice diverse cast with some pretty impressive child actors. Not to mention the adults involved. I’ll be curious to see this when it comes out which will actually be next year on November 1, 2013.

Two Steps From Hell

Well, I’ve written about food and locations in fantasy books/movies, so why not music?

We don’t really have classical music anymore. I mean we still listen to it and people still go to hear orchestras play but now it’s not really the composer that matters but rather the musician. And there’s nothing wrong with that. Individual musicians deserve the attention and praise for their skill. However, there is one area where classical music has thrived: movie and tv soundtracks.

I used to never really pay attention to soundtracks. Gladiator had kind of got me interested, but it wasn’t until the Lord of the Rings trilogy (with Howard Shore) that I really started paying attention to what kind of music was being used.  And then there was the Chronicle of Narnia movies (Harry Gregson-Williams). The new Batman movies (Hans Zimmer and James Newton Howard). Inception (Hans Zimmer again).  Game of Thrones (Ramin Djawadi). So on and so on. All of a sudden modern day composers became important to me.

While those guys are all great, (along with all the other composers I haven’t mentioned like Zbigniew Preisner, Danny Elfman, James Horner, and the incomparable John Williams) one area that doesn’t get noticed much is trailer music. It might seem silly but trailers are incredibly important for films and the right music can really set the tone for the movie, most of the time without people even realizing it.

So if you’ve seen a movie trailer recently, there is a very good chance that it was done by these guys: Two Steps From Hell. (Seriously, take a look at this credits page.) Some of the trailers you have heard them in:

Star Trek: Featuring “Freedom Fighters”

 

Anna Karenina: Featuring “Nero”

(Yeah, I know Anna Karenina doesn’t really belong on a fantasy/sci-fi blog but I love the story and the trailer looks really cool and the music was an excellent choice.)

Also check out “Archangel”:

 

And “Starvation”:

So as you can tell, Two Steps From Hell make some really epic music. They’ve got two public albums out, both available on iTunes, but most of their stuff seems like it’s also on YouTube as well. Personally, I have already bought both their albums because this is the best kind of music to listen to on the way to work. All of a sudden, my rather mundane job seems like it’s an epic struggle between goodness and rightness and the forces of evil trying to destroy all that is beautiful in the world.

Yeah. It’s good stuff.

Brave Review

Brave opened last weekend and I got to go see it while visiting my sister and her husband. I loved it and personally, I thought it was the best Pixar movie yet. Well, maybe not the best but it certainly is my favorite.

I’ve heard a lot that Brave is the most Disney-ish Pixar movie yet. I disagree. Yes, it is about a princess which has been solid Disney territory for a long time. And my sister remarked afterward that the animation style for some aspects of the movie were similar to previous Disney movies. However there are two areas where this is very decidedly NOT a Disney movie.

There may be some slight spoilers to follow.

1) Merida’s Parents.

Look at that picture! It’s both her father AND her mother! Merida is not an orphan nor is one of her parents dead. Try to name one Disney animated movie in which the main character still has both their parents. And in the few movies that do (like Tangled), the parents are well in the background or else one of the parents is a fool. Probably the father. While King Fergus is used for comedic effect in the film, he’s not a fool. He’s a respectable man, father and king. And the relationship between Fergus and Elinor is very admirable. The obvious love and respect they have for each other is simply beautiful and the people over at Disney should be taking notes.

2) No Romance.

That’s not exactly true I suppose since as I mentioned above Fergus and Elinor have a very beautiful relationship. But the main protagonist here is the Princess Merida and as anyone can tell who knows anything about a Disney princess, she should be falling in love at some point. Don’t get me wrong, I love a lot of the princess movies and the romance in them. But it’s really nice to see a movie with a female heroine who is not a “strong female character” and yet who doesn’t have her story revolve around a guy. Early in the movie, Queen Elinor tells Merida that it is time for her to get betrothed and on the day of the decision, Merida ends up winning her own hand. (It’s a really good part of the movie.)

The main relationship in this movie is actually between Merida and her mother. And it’s a beautiful, honest look at mother/daughter relationships. But before you go thinking that this is just another girl movie, don’t worry. There is plenty of fighting and humor and good relational drama to keep anyone interested. And I have also already had a guy friend tell me that he thought Brave was awesome too. So go see it!

The only problem I have with the movie is Merida’s hair. Because no matter what I do, I will never have hair as beautiful and amazing as hers. And it’s hard to fully enjoy a movie when all you can think about is how badly you want the heroine’s hair.