Nostalgia trip of the week with the J.R.R. Tolkien film adaptations

It’s a bittersweet experience to watch a movie that you loved as a kid but haven’t seen for years. The giddy memories of how great it was “back then” get supplanted by an adult appraisal that yields either a newfound appreciation or a desire to chide yourself for ever having liked it at all.

Timed to capitalize on the buzz surrounding New Line’s live-action Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, due this December, Warner is rereleasing these two films based on J.R.R. Tolkien’s classics. The Hobbit tells the tale of Bilbo Baggins, a young homebody who gets set on the path of adventure by the wizard Gandalf, and who finds the Ring of Power that sets the events of The Lord of the Rings in motion. A shorter, easier book to adapt for the screen than the gargantuan Rings, The Hobbit works far better as a self-contained movie than its companion rerelease, and its animation, while not up to today’s Disney standards, has a handcrafted quality that puts the work in Rings to shame. In that film, director Ralph Bakshi (Fritz the Cat, Cool World) used cheesy psychedelic backgrounds and shoddy rotoscoping (in which live actors are filmed and then drawn over) in condensing the story of how Bilbo’s heir, Frodo, journeys into the heart of darkness to destroy Bilbo’s ring before the dark lord Sauron finds it.

Where The Hobbit still retains a good part of its charm—even if the songs are a wee bit silly—The Lord of the Rings… well, let’s just say that it’ll serve as an excellent cure for insomnia. The Hobbit: B The Lord of the Rings: D

Lord of the Rings
  • Movie