It’s safe to say that in the current movie climate, studios are chasing franchises. Individual movies and TV shows are no longer considered safe bets; instead, each new release should be part of a trilogy or cinematic universe – with a focus on the forest, not the trees. Marvel Cinematic Universe (and its competitor, the DC Universe), Harry PotterAnd star Wars they have all been astronomical successes for their studios, and now everyone is looking to get a piece of that franchise pie. However, it’s entirely possible that none of these franchises would be where they are today without the original. Peter Jackson- staged trilogy Lord of the Rings films that can still be watched today and the creators of the modern blockbuster trilogy are not made in the way that these new kids on the block could handle it. Now that Warner Bros is planning to return to the Middle-earth setting for more films, it’s hard to imagine that they can achieve the same level of unique quality as the original trilogy for the franchise.


The Lord of the Rings treats its setting with respect

Set design for The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring
Image via New Line Cinema

When one of the first major trailers Spiderman: No Way Home was released, one line generated significant fan anger. When famous supervillain Otto Octavius ​​(Alfred Molina) tells our main cast his name, one laughs and asks what his “real” name is. This line isn’t really unusual in the MCU, but it illustrates a recurring problem: characters always act like movie characters. Characters can feel overly confident in their surroundings and abilities and therefore audiences don’t really believe when something serious is happening because it’s always fizzled out by some smug joke that reminds them they’re watching a movie. . If the audience can’t immerse themselves, they won’t care as they would otherwise.

Lord of the Rings understands this and always treats Middle-earth with a respect and focus that seems a little lost in other big budget films. The premise might seem a bit silly at first glance (all the evil is somehow contained within a little golden ring in a village of “leafy” smoking, drunken farmers), but all three films don’t have a single joke about the expense of the story. The Ring is a serious matter, and, accordingly, Sauron and his legions of evil are also a serious matter. Whenever the Ringwraiths surround our heroes, ominous chants and choirs envelop the film. If the hobbits are caught, death and enslavement await them. Since ghosts and Sauron are never joked about, the audience comes to respect their presence. In the scene where the ghost has seemingly found our four hobbits under the root, there is a really palpable tension that they will be found. You may find yourself holding your breath with others. This level of immersion has power—the movie hits your head in the best possible way.

The point is not only that the films easily reach the audience, but also that they manage to convey the grandeur of the setting itself. Middle-earth is blessed with the beauty it deserves thanks to New Zealand’s spectacular vistas, and each area seems to be steeped in history and a real sense of space. The films also convey sadness quite well, leaving room for moments of true despair when warranted. When things are really hopeless, the audience stays in this space. No barbs or jokes can save them from this feeling. While that doesn’t mean there aren’t any jokes, they’re just cleverly spaced out so they never hit a different emotion that viewers should be feeling. Even the two closest to the Brotherhood comic character, Merry (Dominic Monahan (ur. and Pippin (Billy Boyd), there are still dramatic moments and important roles to be played in the events of the story.

The Lord of the Rings rejects irony and self-awareness for sincerity

Elijah Wood in Lord of the Rings Return of the King
Image via Warner Bros.

Focusing on the setting and character, the world Lord of the Rings feel alive and real, the reason the franchise has performed so well is because it focuses on sincerity and honest emotions. Movies and TV shows these days can feel a little insecure about their strong emotions, obscuring them with quick jokes and jokes, or even breaking the fourth wall. This is usually done to ensure that the audience never sees the work as “pretentious” or “melodramatic”. In theory, there is nothing wrong with this, but overuse means that nothing can feel real anymore. If writers are too afraid to leave viewers alone to feel strong emotions for fear of judgment, they end up feeling immature and viewers are never allowed to immerse themselves in them. It’s like the movie interrupts its story every ten minutes to yell, “Oh, don’t worry, it’s a movie!”

Lord of the Rings never gives in to the impulse to cut out scenes or interrupt genuine emotional moments. This has the cumulative effect of making everything in the movies seem impressive because the audience is properly immersed in the world. Lord of the Rings juggles big end stakes, he deals with great emotions in the context of old opera stories of good and evil. Films are made with this tone in mind and are not ashamed of it.

One of the best examples of this sincerity in spades is the relationship between Sam (Sean Astin) and Frodo (Elijah Wood). While the cast is extensive and we follow several different groups of characters throughout the story, these two are the series’ closest to being “main characters”. As guardians of the ring, their job is the most important in the entire cast, if they fail, the world will be plunged into pure darkness, no matter what anyone else in the story does. However, compared to the great heroes that make up the rest of the cast, these two feel surprisingly down-to-earth, just two regular guys from home who need to do the impossible. As they travel, their friendship grows as the tension and evil of the rings push them into conflict after conflict, with each step the journey becomes more painful. It informs their characters and actions, companionship with Sam is one of the few things that keeps Frodo from deviating from the path. Through every action and interaction in the story, it becomes clear that this friendship is the core of the franchise.

The second series of The Lord of the Rings could no longer reproduce the original trilogy

Martin Freeman as Bilbo Baggins in The Hobbit, 2012
Image via New Line Cinema

The presence of any new Lord of the Rings the films not only have to deal with the success of the original trilogy, they also have to deal with the fact that hobbit trilogy failed. Mired in directorial changes, complete lack of pre-production (compared to years of pre-production of the original), over-reliance on CGI, and largely weak character writing. hobbit The trilogy is a disaster in almost every sense of the word. While profitable (it would probably be impossible to continue the series Lord of the Rings flop), films lost critical and commercial success as the films ran, resulting in a mess that was Battle of the Five Armiesthe lowest-grossing Middle-earth film ever made (sixth highest grossing in 2014, but the point stands).

The films are clearly missing almost everything that made the original films good. The world is still beautiful, but it feels less tactile and alive as CGI stretches far beyond its limits to make up for the shortcomings. While every member of the fraternity felt alive and grounded, most dwarves fade into the background and are completely forgotten most of the time. The films are desperate to capitalize on the nostalgia of previous films by cramming in characters like Legolas, Sauron and the White Council (who never appeared in the book) and adding a love triangle that feels embarrassingly superficial and entirely studio motivated. a mandatory attempt to broaden the film’s appeal.

There are still moments of sincerity and good character work in these films, but when they do appear, they seem to be the exception to the rule. The first movie is the best because it still remembers that it’s “about” the main characters, and the sequels largely ignore that trait. Overall, the trilogy feels depressingly cynical. At its best, it barely manages to recreate what the original trilogy did so well, and at its worst, it just seems like a poorly organized mess with no real heart.

The Lord of the Rings The Fellowship of the Ring (2001) (1)
Image via newline

Philosophy Lord of the Rings the series (and the reason why it’s still the perfect trilogy) is because of its attention to small details. Small interactions and character moves make up a big epic tale of good and evil, friendship and camaraderie triumphing in the face of incredible odds. This attention to detail is reflected in the production of the films themselves, where craftsmen handcraft props, costumes and prosthetics, all the way down to light chainmail for supporting actors to wear. This makes the audience believe and appreciate the little things, making it much easier to sell big things when they appear.

This message is delivered quite conveniently in The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey (even a stopped clock sometimes shows the correct time) when Gandalf (Ian McKellen) answers Galadriel (Cate Blanchett) why did he bring Bilbo (Martin Freeman) by quest. He replies that while Saruman believes that great strength is what it takes to keep evil at bay, Gandalf believes ordinary people should be kind and “show love”, which has real meaning. This emphasis on elements that seem unimportant is the quintessence of what makes Lord of the Rings so special and so different from most franchises. There are a great many heroes and saviors, but it is the sincere attention to small simple things that resonates with people even today.

If Warner Bros wants to succeed in producing more Lord of the Rings films, these are the principles they should follow. If they skimp on deep characters, respect for the setting, and genuine emotion, they can still make good films, but they won’t produce anything close to the quality of the original three.