Just forget the words and sing along

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

First Trailer for The Hobbit

So.  Let's talk about The Lord of the Rings.  Truthfully, not much of a fan.  Don't get me wrong, the movies are good, and I respect that it sparked this whole trend of "filming the unfilmable" that's getting such upcoming movies as John Carter.

But I've never really been able to get into them because of the books.  I've tried many, many times in my short life to read the books, but I find them so boring.  That's why I've avoided the extended editions of The Lord of the Rings.  From what I gather, all they really did for the extended editions was put in all the exposition and back story that brings the plot to a halt in the books.

22 years ago -- Christmas 1989 -- I got this handsome boxed set of The Lord of the Rings, and just by looking at the spines on my bookshelf, you can see all my previous attempts to read the trilogy.  The Fellowship of the Ring is well-worn, like it's been read a dozen times.  The Two Towers is in pretty good shape, like it's been read once or twice.  And The Return of the King is as pristine as the day I tore off the wrapping paper.

However, also in the boxed set is the prequel to The Lord of the Rings, The HobbitThe Hobbit is beat-up, dog-eared, slightly torn like it's been read a thousand times.  And it has.  Despite my distaste for The Lord of the Rings, The Hobbit remains one of my favourite books.  It's just such an easier read...it's nowhere near as dense.  My fantasy-loving friends once told me that The Lord of the Rings is simply The Hobbit with every single footstep described in painstaking detail.  I haven't read The Hobbit in a few years...I think I'm due to read it again.

So, then, like a lot of nerds, when The Lord of the Rings started making serious coin at the box office, we knew it was just a matter of time before they made The Hobbit in order to keep the franchise going.  There was some legal stuff to sort out first...the movie rights to The Hobbit were owned by MGM, and The Lord of the Rings was owned by New Line.  Eventually, they figured out the legal stuff and resolved to work together.  Peter Jackson, director of the trilogy, was on board...as a producer.

To direct The Hobbit, Jackson selected Guillermo Del Toro, the director of the Hellboy films and fresh off the Oscar-winning fantasy epic Pan's Labrynth.  The plan at the time was to make two films:  the first one, a straight up adaptation of The Hobbit.  The second one, they were going to pour through all the various appendicies and footnotes that J.R.R. Tolkien wrote and concoct an original story to fill in the gap between The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings.

However, MGM was going through some financial woes, and Del Toro got fed up just standing around, waiting for the bankruptcy thing to sort itself out.  So, Del Toro quit the project.  And Jackson said, "Well, I guess it's up to me," and decided to direct The Hobbit.  Also around this time they tossed the original "bridge the gap" film idea...instead, they were just going to cut The Hobbit in two and make two movies.

Of course, we have some returning cast members from The Lord of the Rings.  Sir Ian McKellan is back as Gandalf, Andy Serkis is back as Gollum, Hugo Weaving is back as the Elf king Elrond, and they even worked in some cameos for Elijah Wood as Frodo and Orlando Bloom as Legolas.

Our hero, Bilbo Baggins, will be played by Martin Freeman.  This isn't the first time that Freeman has played a cult-classic literary character...he was also Arthur Dent in the film version of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, and on the new BBC production of Sherlock Holmes (you know...the one that's supervised by Steven Moffat of Doctor Who fame), he's Dr. Watson.  He was also Tim Canturbury, the original British version of Jim Halperin, on the original British version of The Office

The first film, The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, hits theaters on December 14, 2012.  The second film, The Hobbit: There and Back Again, comes out December 13, 2013.

And the first trailer just went online.

I do get a little goosebumpy watching this. It's truly nice to see a return to this cinematic world. And as I've always enjoyed The Hobbit, I'm more familiar with it.

I think it's time to re-read The Hobbit to get ready for this film.  And who knows?  It might even give me enough of a running start to finally tackle The Lord of the Rings.

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