Just Where Are We Going On This Latest Middle Earth Journey?
This past Wednesday, the lovely folks who brought us The Lord of the Rings gifted us with a new trailer for The Hobbit. But what does this second trailer give us that the first teaser trailer didn't?
Well, Trailer One introduced us to the cast and gave us a peek into the world of Middle Earth that we'll soon follow our adventurers on. But, if you'd seen the original LOTR trilogy, that was all old hat. Nothing terribly new or surprising was given to us in that regard. Really, it was just the same old characters we've become used to and much of the same old villainy we're now accustomed to.
While it was a nice trailer, we imagine that the people who were really excited about it were already convinced. They'd probably read the book already, too.
In other words? There can't be too many folks out there who haven't developed some sort of opinion about these Middle Earth-set films by now.
But the latest trailer for The Hobbit brings the action up quite a bit, while simultaneously widening the scope of the story for those of you out there who don't obsessively remember or know the story. This time around, we're introduced to the full scope of the tale of 12 dwarves, a wizard and a halfling journeying to a mountain located far off to the East.
Instead of a more narrative trailer like the first one, this one contains lots of action, as well as a rapid-fire trip through what will end up being the first of, now, three movies.
Anyone who has read the books knows: There's definitely a lot of narrative to get through in just one movie. And by the looks of the trailer, the first film, An Unexpected Journey, only covers half of the trip to the mountain.
You might say that seems pretty excessive. But this trailer serves to indicate that it'll be a pretty full story.
The Hobbit, as it was written by J.R.R. Tolkien, was a sort of primer to the beasts and mystical things contained within Middle Earth. Each successive chapter of the journey introduced something or someone new to the reader. The book slowly builds up this world around you, then slowly assembles all of the disparate parts together into a collective whole by the end. After successive watches of this new trailer, it would seem as if the movies will follow the book's lead in that regard. An Unexpected Journey will indeed be our primer into this story's world.
Yes, the trailer gives us glimpses of pretty much every inhabitant of this dark and wide world. You'll notice goblins, trolls, wolves, elves (some of whom are very familiar), dwarves, wizards and, of course, hobbits. If you don't blink, you might even see some evil spiders. Because, well, it just wouldn't be a Middle Earth story without some of those.
The trailer's more than just a primer, though. In many ways, it's also something of a reassurance. Martin Freeman, who plays a young Bilbo Baggins in the film, looks perfectly suited for the role, at least so far as this trailer shows.
Freeman always does such a fantastic job of playing the reluctant yet competent fish-out-of-water type. His generally understated performances often manage to charm without getting in the way of the overwhelming the story so often happening around him.
Based off this trailer, though, it's hard to say much about any other actor who'll be appearing in the movie with him.
I'm sure Ian McKellen will handle his role as Gandalf as well as he's been able to manage in the past three movies. He just seems to have some kind of innate talent for playing wizards. Plus, the guy looks pretty decent with a giant beard.
Unfortunately, not everything else necessarily looks as striking. Or so goes the clips' immediate fanboy, which is already cluttering the Internet.
Indeed, the visuals do seem to have a weird plastic quality to them. As it turns out, though, Peter Jackson, head honcho of Middle Earth, decided he'd film these movies with RED cameras at double the normal frame rate.
Long story short: The more frames filmed per second, the more visual information is being recorded. Those really fancy, super slow motion videos? Those are shot at a super high frame rate so you can watch stuff blow up super slow and there's no blurring of motion to distract. Television is usually filmed at a frame rate higher than film's 24 FPS, which is what happens to be the major complaint a lot of people have. They want a cinematic look for the movies, not a hyper-real, super-detailed screen picture. Yeah, it's different, but here's the thing: The trailers that have been released aren't 48 FPS trailers, like they'll be in theaters. So, whatever you are seeing in the trailer, it's different from what the actual end product might end up being.
Yes, I said might. Odds aren't fantastic that your local cinema will even have 48 FPS projection capabilities come December. So that could be interesting. But, really, the frame rate discussion is the only negative criticism that's been tossed around in regards to the trailers released so far.
All of the other pieces are in place, and they appear to be conspiring to tell an epic story in a fashion that it deserves. This trailer entices with teases of what's to come, and hints to the viewer that, though we'll be seeing a third of a story, it should be able to stand on it's own.
Trailer Grade: B