Jan 6 2013, 6:01am
It adds some fairy tale back into the story, some of which is diluted by the addition of the outside elements (which I like, don't get me wrong). One of the aspects of FOTR that makes it so different from the next two is that it retains the most of that sort of fantasy; the next two get less so (as the "dominion of men" takes center stage), with the exception of the ents (who, honestly, got on my nerves as much as they did on Merry's). So yeah, give me giant bunnies, along with dragons, bear shapeshifters, stone giants, etc. I'll take all I can get of that.
There is a subtle difference between the Hobbit and LOTR, and I think you nailed it. Not only the style; LOTR is Epic and Hobbit is a fast paced fairy tale in the oral tradition... but that Hobbit contains more "magic", more classic "out there" faerie tale elements. More whimsy if you will. I think that must have been one of the harder things to do; make this set of films look like LOTR, carry the serious beginnings of that epic, and still have the faerie tale quality, stone giants and trolls and all that. I was struck by the Dwarf designs; they seem to embody that quality of the tale being both quirky faerie tale and serious epic saga. There are characters that are perilously close to cartoon: Bifur (Bifurcation means the splitting of a main body into two parts) with the orc axe in his head, for instance... only it works, beautifully, because, um, because WETA folk are geniuses. Because there is enough realism in look and character to carry off the slightly out there stuff.
Go outside and play...