So I’m going to reveal something now. This revelation is probably going to force me to turn in my geek cred card. It’s a dark and twisted thing, something I never whisper of at the comic shop or on the internet message boards.
I hate The Lord of the Rings.
Wow. It felt SO GOOD to come clean with that. This probably explains a few things; namely, why there weren’t any LOTR moments referenced in last week’s column. I figured, though, that since I’m now writing a weekly thingamajig on “Geek Cinema” I’d have to own up to my weaknesses and foibles. I also realized that because of this column I would likely have to force myself to watch LOTR. I’m going to be flat out honest: I’m not looking forward to it.
Because it’s not like I haven’t tried. I have, good sirs and madams. I have. I, years ago, attempted to read the trilogy. I first forced my way through The Hobbit. It was interminable, but I figured, “Hey! It’s just a prelude! The actual trilogy must be MUCH better.” So after finishing The Hobbit I dove right into The Fellowship of the Ring. I stopped reading not too far in. You know, at the part where they were walking? And walking and walking and walking? That part?
I found something out, though, when I saw the film adaptation of Fellowship in the theaters a few years later. Turns out I had stopped reading the book right before the first Dementor… I’m sorry, Ring-wraith attack. I chuckled aloud, saying to myself, “Whoops! My bad! Well, it probably gets more exciting from here.” And it did! It finally did! And then, right as that first movie started to get exciting, the credits rolled.
I declined to see the next two in the theaters
Some years ago I purchased all 3 on DVD, on sale, real cheap. No extras or anything, just the widescreen feature film with chapter selection and that’s it. I sat down and fast-forwarded my way through Fellowship, began The Two Towers, and when Gandalf the whatever-color-he-was-at-that-point summoned a horse and grandly informed his fellows, “This is the king of ALLLLL horses,” I shut it off. Because all I could think was, “Dude, it’s just an effing horse.” So that was the end of my LOTR viewing experience. Never even popped in The Return of the King, which I hear is the best one. Walking trees and stuff. Yay-o.
It’s not the length. I’ve sat through Kenneth Branagh’s Hamlet in the theaters, enthralled for all five hours or so of it. And very important: I don’t think the LOTR flicks are bad movies, nor do I think the books suck. I recognize that these are great films, and most likely better adaptations than the Harry Potter franchise, for example, though I wouldn’t know not having read/seen the vast majority of LOTR. I also acknowledge that the LOTR novels are the grandpappy of all modern fantasy, to which I am extremely grateful. It’s just… it’s just… geez, these movies, these books, these STORIES don’t do ANYthing for me!
And it’s not just LOTR! There are many, many things that are great, celebrated, widely renowned, that have absolutely zero appeal for me. 2001: A Space Odyssey! Chinatown! Alan Moore! Grant Morrison! The musicals of Stephen Sondheim! Artichoke hearts! Clint Howard! Mr. Bean! 24! The New York Yankees! Tom Brady! The 90’s X-Men cartoon! It’s true! I can’t stand ANY of those things!
And now Peter Jackson has made The Hobbit. The trailer didn’t look bad, actually, until a cadre of Dwarves started singing something in Dwarfish and made me want to shoot myself. But no, no… I’m actually kind of excited about it. You see, Martin Freeman is playing Frodo Baggins, and I am a HUGE Martin Freeman fan. Oh, no. No. Not from the British version of The Office, which is really terrible and far inferior to the American version. I love him as Arthur Dent in the film adaptation of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, which is excellent, PARTICULARLY Mos Def as Ford Prefect.
You know, maybe I just have no taste.
Tom Hoefner (@TomHoefner on Twitter) is a playwright, theatre director, college professor, and would-be novelist living in Brooklyn with his wife and daughter. He also loves Martin Freeman in the awesome BBC series Sherlock, something he’d like to point to as proof that, yes, he does have SOME taste.
Check out “From the Casefiles of Race and Cookie McCloud”, a blog of super-short stories chronicling the adventures of Race McCloud, Private Eye, and his 15-year old former-secret-agent-in-training niece Cookie: http://raceandcookie.blogspot.com