I'm one of maybe nine people on the planet who can't stand Peter Jackson's The Lord of the Rings trilogy. I was so put off by the films' bloated self-seriousness that I intended to let time erode them from memory after only one theatrical viewing each.* It's been nearly a decades since The Return of the King came out, and almost everything about these movies has been reduced to ghosts of frustrated emotions and the occasional mental image of a hand opening up to reveal that blasted golden ring (which happens a lot).
The only problem with my awesome scheme is that The Hobbit opens next weekend. As a critic, I am, of course, duty-bound to go see it. Actually, that makes this the first of two problems.
The second is that the film's newest trailer is quite good. The initial preview looked like LOTR's greatest hits, injected with forced whimsy and garish, cartoon makeup. I understand that the source material is a children's book, but I can really do without two-and-a-half more hours of walking montages and Keebler-elf humor. Which is why the new trailer gives me hope. With its bona fide evidence of adventure, I'm not as worried that Jackson and company will fill the first of his three (!) new movies with conversations about going somewhere.
Note the word "as" in front of "concerned".
Because it's been so long since I last watched these movies, and because their status as god-makers where Jackson is concerned has only grown stronger, I thought it best to revisit The Fellowship of the Rings, The Two Towers, and The Return of the King.
Ten years is a lifetime in movie-appreciation. Had I let my initial brush with 2001: A Space Odyssey define my feelings about it, I would have not only missed out on a personal favorite film, but I likely never would have met Keir Dullea and Gary Lockwood. I swore up and down that my first viewing of Napoleon Dynamite would be my last, but now I "get" its charms and will watch the climactic dance scene whenever it comes on TV.
In truth, I may be setting myself up for disaster here. I'm less than eight hours out of abdominal surgery, hopped up on Vicodin, and muscling through a review of Step Up: Revolution--in addition to this piece. On top of all that, I've committed to watching the films' extended versions.
Why would I think that the key to liking something I hate is absorbing more of it?
Most people I've spoken to claim the longer cuts improve the trilogy's flow and fill in some necessary story gaps. Facebook had better hope this is true, lest it buckle under the weight of my Sunday night Un-friending rampage.
So, yeah, I'm giving ol' Pete another shot. Look for reviews of this epic, blockbuster series in the coming days, along with some fun anecdotes about how I came to watch the movies and the ensuing events that scarred me for (moviegoing) life.
Who knows? Maybe I'll drop my ring of disdain into the fiery volcano of forgiveness and gain the same understanding that millions of people all over the world already share.
Or maybe I'll regret not having spent those precious twelve hours sleeping.
*I technically saw Fellowship twice, but that's a "For Later" story.