Sequels are pretty standard fare in Hollywood nowadays, but there’s a rising trend among Hollywood franchise: prequels. Prequels are usually stories that occur chronologically before the first movie in a franchise. They come about once a franchise has exhausted its sequel potential, usually to squeeze more money out of a tired concept, but also to work as a sort of reboot. Big budget prequels of big franchises are just starting to come into their own, and their history has been mixed thus far. On the one hand, there have been critically successful prequels such as X-men: First Class, and Puss in Boots, but on the other hand we get movies like Star Wars: The Phantom Menace, and X-Men Origins: Wolverine. It will be a while before we know where Prometheus, the prequel to the Alien franchise, falls.
Enter The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, the new prequel to The Lord of the Rings franchise whichi is set for release on December 14. Being a prequel to such an acclaimed series means that expectations for this movie are high. So far, first reviews are positive but not outstanding, and certainly not as positive as they were for The Lord of the Rings trilogy. That’s not to say it won’t be more or less acclaimed later on. Like Star Wars: The Phantom Menace, this movie will be the first in a new trilogy, so it has time to improve in future films.
The story will focus on the adventures of Bilbo Baggins, his journey and his maturity as a character as he goes to confront Smaug, a dragon guarding a great treasure. Characters like Gandalf the Grey and Gollum will make crucial appearances, and the One Ring will play an important role. Based on the details that have come out about the film, it doesn’t look like the movie strays too much from its source material: The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien.
The movie was filmed in New Zealand, so we can probably expect the same lush setting with heavy CG modifications. Of course, like we learned from The Phantom Menace, great technology does not make a great movie.
However, if the movie is as interesting as the book that inspired the film, it will avoid the Star Wars prequel trilogy curse, and be a much better movie.