Monday, June 25, 2012

Reel Facts & Opinions: Concerning Hobbits

FACT: Those who went to see BRAVE on the big screen this past weekend were treated to a new trailer for the first film of Peter Jackson’s THE HOBBIT adaptation. However, as a pirate once said to a princess, don’t get excited. If you blinked, you probably missed it.
Although it is officially labeled as “trailer 2”, it is essentially the same exact thing we were given back in December, with a few edits. Some new and quick shots are inserted in place of others; scenes of Bilbo peering through some foliage, and a quick shot of Gandalf leading the company through the forest have replaced the shots of the troll attack and the Gandalf/Thrain confrontation. Also gone are some smoking scenes. Other than that, the narrative, music, and dialogue are identical to the original trailer. The revelation came as a bit of a letdown to insiders who had been seeing paperwork with “Hobbit Trailer 2” attached to the BRAVE release.

So why bother? It seems that the trailer cut-down was done for family-friendly audiences expected to be in the theatre for BRAVE. The shots which were replaced had scary imagery and smoking. The edits put the trailer into a PG rating for the PG rated BRAVE (the original trailer was PG13).
OPINION: Ratings aside, those who decided to do a cut-down on the trailer to make it kid-friendly must not have seen BRAVE, which despite its rating, is loaded with scary stuff; bear-attacks, a creepy witch, skeletons and threats of death are all over the film. THE HOBBIT footage actually comes across as tame compared to some of the scenes in BRAVE.

Softening up a trailer for the kiddies is nothing new; studios have been doing it for years. There is a fair amount of deception at work here, all in the name of getting more assess in the theatre seats. In an age of dwindling theatre-attendance, you can’t blame the studios too harshly for scheming to get the younglings in the doors, especially with the MPAA getting tougher and tougher with their ratings.
By all means let’s not shock the kiddies into therapy, and maybe this isn’t a debatable issue as much as a statement of how cautious the MPAA and the studios are now. This Blogger fondly remembers animated kids films such as THE SECRET OF NIMH (1982, rated G) and WATERSHIP DOWN (1978, rated PG), which featured cute talking animals who battled each other to the death; bloodshed and on-screen character deaths were everywhere. The MPAA would never let that type of film out with a PG or G rating today.  

But will THE HOBBIT film itself be family friendly? It’s predecessor, THE LORD OF THE RINGS (three films), were all rated PG13 for intense battles and frightening images. Providing Peter Jackson sticks closely to the source material (and we know he will), THE HOBBIT will be no different; the film will be packed with goblins, trolls, a pissed-off dragon, and a battle between five armies. You can certainly soften up a trailer, but you can’t soften up this type of film.
What say you?

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