My Trip Back to Middle Earth!

Back in 2000, I was a 13 year old boy. My imagination was stoked with the fires of Star Wars and of galaxies far far away. I played games that augmented my lust for anything not of this world, games like Magic: The Gathering and a new game, one that allowed you to take command of your own personal Armies…Warhammer.

When you are a child, all you want to do is play. You don’t want to go to school, you do not want to read, you do not want to eat your veggies. You want to spend as much time as you can playing Goldeneye 64, Starcraft, Diablo 2 (which just came out), have sleep overs, eat junk food, play roller hockey, etc. That was the same for me. The last thing I wanted to do was go to the northern tip of Wisconsin and spend a week in Bayfield at a cabin that had no cable TV or ‘things to do’. That would mean no internet, no friends, no games of any kind.

I went up to visit my Aunt and Uncle. After a game of clue, my aunt took me into town. After several stops, we stopped at a book store. I have always loved the smell of books. I still do to this day and I remember the smell of that place as clearly as anything else. There, I poked around for awhile and I found something I decided I wanted. It was a thick tome, but it was a book that contained in it three separate books. I had, for the first time, held in my hands Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings. I asked my aunt if she would get it for me. I am not sure if she was taken aback because a kid just asked for a book, or if she was shocked it was THAT book that I wanted…one that is not an easy read at all. She allowed me to get it, and I remember her smiling and being happy to put a book in my hands, regardless of the book.

The next few days I did very little else but sit and consume page after page. I read from the moment I got up to the moment I went to bed with only short stops to eat or use the lake to clean myself. I ripped through the stories on those pages and devoured the awesome stories about little hobbits, elves and dwarves, and of course the fall and ressurection of man. Perhaps all those themes didn’t sink in to a 13 year old boys mind, but the battle scenes were pretty cool.

Flash forward to 2002, a little while after the first movie, the Fellowship of the Ring was released on VHS (yup, VHS) my family took a trip to our Cabin in Eagle River, Wisconsin. We had just gotten it, and this was one of our first trips up there. Like all things from 10 years ago, our Cabin has changed drastically, but back then, I slept on the pull out couch in the main living room. I was able to do one thing though, and that was watch TV. That night, I watched for the first time, The Fellowship of the Ring. My eyes were as wide as saucers the entire time. Mind blowing effects and action scenes set in a world that I knew and loved, and for once (after the bitterness of Episode I) a story that was done right on film! It was one of those moments that made me want to pursue film as a career.

Well, 10 years later, much has changed. My cabin is completely different, cinematic techniques are completely different, hell, I am completely different. But one thing was the same today…while at my cabin in Eagle River, Wisconsin, I got the chance to return to Middle Earth 10 years later, and what I saw was magic…

The Hobbit is the prequel to the stories of The Lord of the Rings. It takes place about 60 years prior. I will try to stay out of the spoilers and stuff, and just muse about aspects of the film I really did love.

The first thing I loved was the music. You hear it right away and you are instantly put back in a place that you remember distinctly as a Middle Earth. You couldn’t possibly be any other place. It is comforting. And the music never lets up. It is perhaps the best part of the movie overall, and not to be understated. But the movie does character  building and introducing really well…including the use of the essentially the first full paragraph of the book read aloud. I couldn’t help but smile at that point.

Martin Freeman is perfect as Bilbo. Unassuming, unsure, and unpopular with the Dwarves, he plays the role perfectly. Sir Ian McKellan is just perfect as well. Reprising his role as Gandalf is wonderful to see. Of course, he has become that role so much that it is hard to see him as anything else to be honest.

And then there are the Dwarves, led by stubborn and lost Throin Oakenshield. The dwarves aren’t all serious though. They are very light hearted as one might expect. But they can wield their swords and axes when the time comes…and it often does in this flick. There is a ton of action, and there should be!

The movie is super long. Prepare for that ahead of time. I mean it is LONG! But that is actually ok. The pacing of the movie is pretty decent and will keep you engaged throughout. There will be moments where you might want to check your phone, but just don’t. During the slow parts are the real pieces of wisdom that the movie has to offer. Plus, there are many little things that you might see or hear that will excite you if you are a fan of the LOTR.

The movie making aspects are really cool too. I saw the movie in the full rate 3D. I am not really a fan of 3D, not because I am a purist or anything, I just do not think our movies look all that good in it and I hate wearing those glasses for 3 hours. But this movie was the best movie with how they used 3D since Jackass 3! (And yes, I think it was Jackass 3 and not Avatar or Clash of the Titans or any other movie prior to this one that used 3D really well). This movie won’t make you sick or make you hate wearing those glasses. It looks real and the images do not seemed forced at all.

Those images, as you might have already guessed, are beautiful. Sure, there is a lot of walking and for people that liked to rip apart the LOTR trilogy, I am sure you will have no issues doing the exact same to this movie…right down to the Eagles. I am sure there will even be new meme’s devoted to these things…but the movie is beautiful. There are about 35 walking shots with large views of the surrounding areas, but they all look amazing in 3D. I was really impressed.

Overall, my trip back to Middle Earth was one that I was so happy with. The movie made me feel like I never really left. That I had just fallen asleep and re-woke 60 years earlier in its history. Sure there are something things the movie could improve on and I really am not sure how they will stretch it all out over two more movies, but who cares? I guess I will just have the pleasure of going back to Middle Earth two more times.

So, I sit here now at my cabin after seeing this movie and I can’t help but want to put in The Fellowship. I look over on my night stand and see Storm of Swords on my bed side table and I know that stories like this have such roots in Tolkien’s world. The games like Magic and Warhammer owe their lore and design to some of the groundwork of Tolkien. And me, now a 25 year old boy, can still have his imagination and wonder sparked by a story that was published in 1937 and first read 12 years ago.

I cannot wait to return to Middle Earth once more.

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