The current state of affairs when it comes to cinematic entertainment is a turbulent one. Every piece of film and television that has ever had any semblance of success seems like it will eventually be remade. Sometimes, this is a good thing. The eventuality that the Star Wars prequels will be remade in a proper fashion, is one of my great hopes in life.
With this trend, it is this writer’s opinion, that the bad outweighs the good. The Matrix, really? Keanu Reeves barely looks any older than when he last played Neo for cryin out loud.
The motivation that spurred these feelings to transcend thought and materialize into the great expanse that is the internet, was the recent news that Amazon just invested $1 Billion into a Lord of the Rings television show. Apparently the show is going to take place before the events of The Lord of the Rings trilogy. I disagree that this material needs to be explored. I feel like this is a cash grab in an attempt to ride the wave of the near universal popularity of Game of Thrones.
Now, before outrage ensues from this inflammatory statement, let me clarify that The Lord of the Rings is one of the greatest book trilogies ever written. It is one of the greatest movies trilogies ever produced. And it is the single largest influencing factor in the creation of Dungeons and Dragons, which this writer spends much of his free time playing.
If my position on the Lord of the Rings isn’t clear yet, I will be blunt. The Lord of the Rings is the single greatest fantasy franchise in history. It has influenced entire generations of people and it is viewed as the de-facto comparison to every single fantasy world created since September 21, 1937 (The Hobbit, J. R. R. Tolkien). Yes, that includes Game of Thrones.
All of that being said, I believe digging into J. R. R. Tolkien’s lesser knows works within The Lord of the Rings universe is a poor decision. To make a prequel television show about that time period, means using The Book of Lost Tales as reference material. This was originally an unedited manuscript written by J. R. R. Tolkien during his later years. This was later published as series by Christopher Tolkien on October 28, 1983, after his father’s death. Those writings outline and detail the history of Middle Earth. This leaves a lot of room for storytelling, too much room. That time frame is a sandbox, and when you have a sandbox, cats can shit in it.
That’s the crux. The passion the fans have for The Lord of the Rings will be impossible to satiate again. It was a miracle that the movie trilogy was able to do it at all. Think about this. If you have prequel story lines come from a TV show, you are going to want to connect those story lines to the already established characters within The Lord of the Rings universe. However, it is highly unlikely that those stories will always make sense. Sometimes they will, but inconsistencies will be impossible to avoid. Fans will backlash.
Remember how I mentioned the Star Wars prequels? The inconsistencies that those movies created are still being fixed by David Filoni, who serves as the current head of creative direction for Star Wars at Lucasfilm.
To take that risk with something as near sacred as The Lord of the Rings means risking more than the money behind the series itself. It means risking the potential good name of the franchise. And let’s be real, The Hobbit movie trilogy already tried to do that. If anyone doesn’t understand why those movies are as inflated with bad CGI and unnecessary story arcs as they are, ask the moneymen behind their production (Ask the cats). Long story short, studio executives ordered a third movie to be made when the two originals were already in post-production. Middle Earth doesn’t need more tarnish. The One Ring might depreciate in value.