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The Hobbit is the Phantom Menace of a New Generation (Jar Jar Not Included)

The Hobbit at The GroveFirst there was the original Star Wars trilogy, and it was good. Then came the second Star Wars trilogy, and things were still pretty good. However, the second trilogy was a sequence of prequels, and as such they threw the galaxy far, far away into something of a tizzy. What would the proper viewing order be for generations of Star Wars fans to come? (For the record, I’m a firm believer in the order of original release date, and that is the way my boys have seen the Star Wars films.)

Now we are faced with something similar, thanks to the highly anticipated release of The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, which is the first film in a new trilogy that, much like the latest Star Wars movies, predates the existing (and incredibly fantastic) The Lord of the Rings trifecta that preceded its release.

I think I made that more confusing than it really is. Basically, what does this do to the viewing order of the franchise?

Granted, the respective trilogies of The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings are based on the classic works of J.R.R. Tolkien, which might influence not only the order that our kids are introduced to the films, but also rekindle the great Harry Potter debate: films or books first?

I’m painting myself into a very nerdy corner.

Also, at what point do we introduce our children to the works in general? The Lord of the Rings, and I assume The Hobbit, can get pretty scary, as did the Harry Potter series in a rapidly progressive manner (honorable mention to Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith, which my kids still haven’t seen in its entirety).

I’m inclined to introduce my boys, specifically my fantasy loving 9-year-old, to The Hobbit in book order, not movie release. My reasoning behind this is that the books were created first, and they get the nod in the big scheme of things. It helps that we’ve held back from showing him The Lord of the Rings movies as we weren’t sure he was up to the darker moments.

I think he’s ready now, or as ready as a little boy of big heart can ever be for a quest of such magnitude.

In the meantime we’ve taken to introducing Hobbit culture through the usual suspects: food and toys. The food is easy enough, our youngest eats as many meals as he possibly can, and we’ve been calling it the Tolkien Diet for years.

lego hobbit set

The toys are a new addition to the playroom. LEGO has a fantastic collection of Hobbit-themed sets that came out this week, and they were kind enough to let my boys experience Middle-earth in brick form.

An Unexpected Gathering” is a great kit that we’ve used to introduce the various characters and set the stage for events to come, and the “Escape from Mirkwood Spiders” has given us a chance to prepare them for some of the scarier aspects of the story. Building the sets together gives us a lot of time to talk about the Tolkien universe, which in this case includes more spoilers than I normally care to reveal. Kids, am I right?

We also visited a fun exhibit featuring The Hobbit at The Grove shopping center here in Los Angeles that didn’t offer much in the way of interaction, but it did continue our path of preparation as we near the opening of the film. What it boils down to is I want to make sure my boys (not sure if the youngest will see it, it’s up to him) are ready for the movie, and we won’t have to leave early because it is too frightening. I’m looking at you Monster House.

This is a big moment for us, in terms of movies before books and watching films out of release order. It feels so rebellious.

What is your take on the great debates of our time, namely the viewing order of prequels and original films and the classic movies or books first conundrum? Leave your potentially heated take in the comments below (but be respectful!).

 

Whit HoneaRead more from Whit Honea at his site Honea Express and the popular group blog DadCentric. You can follow Whit on the Twitter or Pinterest (his opinions are his own and do not reflect those of Babble or most rational people).

 

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