This has been a great year for geeky movies, and it should be right through to the end. We’ve gotten two amazing superhero films that could not be less alike – The Avengers and The Dark Knight Rises. We’ve gotten a medieval fantasy Pixar movie. We’re getting a Disney movie about classic arcade games. We’re getting a film adaptation of William Joyce’s Guardians of Childhood stories.
But honestly, if you haven’t been living under a rock, then you probably know that the ultimate piece of the geek puzzle is waiting for us at the end of this year and next year (and just maybe 2014 as well.) That’s because Peter Jackson is giving us the chance to return to Middle Earth through “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey” and “The Hobbit: There and Back Again”.
I’ve been following these movies with a lot of excitement, and I’ve been keeping myself well-educated on what’s going on with them. You could almost say I’d…well, not lost interest, but, rather, I felt I was just waiting for these movies, rather than anticipating them. Now, however, some rather puzzling, interesting, and tantalizing hints came out of the various Hobbit pieces shown at San Diego Comic Con earlier this month, and I feel the giddiness of curiosity and anticipation returning.
So, let’s take a look at bits I’ve learned. And if it really needs to be said, if you don’t like spoilers, you should probably stop reading now.
Roll the Film
At Comic Con, PJ showed an excited crowd of thousands 12 minutes of footage from The Hobbit films. Reactions to footage shown in April at Cinema Con were a bit mixed (primarily because people were distracted by the footage being shown in 48 frames per second, rather than the traditional 24.) This time, however, there seems to be no discord…the footage was pretty universally loved.
While some of the scenes were of things long expected…the Unexpected Party at Bag End, Bilbo riddling with Gollum, the dwarves in barrels…others featured scenes not explicitly from the book, such as Galadriel conferring with Gandalf in Rivendell, or Gandalf talking with his fellow wizard Radagast. I wasn’t at Comic Con, but one scene people talked about seeing there I did get to see a glimpse of: a vast, rocky giant hurling a boulder at the camera as the dwarves make their way along a mountain path. I immediately remembered Tolkien’s reference to stone giants being out, hurling boulders for their sport, in the scenes leading up to the Goblintown sequence.
Torn in Two
With so much material in The Hobbit, especially when one includes events like Gandalf and the White Council going into battle against the Necromancer (known later on to be Sauron), it’s something of a relief that the book’s being split into two movies. So where does the split occur?
According to most reckoning, primarily based on some promotional materials released by New Line and Warner Brothers, it seems extremely likely that The Unexpected Journey will end after Bilbo, Thorin, and the others have escaped from the Halls of the Elvenking. I suspect it’ll end with them heading down the River Running towards Laketown, and then There and Back Again will pick up with their arrival in Laketown and carry us all the way through the Battle of Five Armies and afterwards.
It seems from the preview that the movie is presented within a framing sequence of Bilbo either writing his memoirs or telling the tale of his adventure to Frodo. I’d be curious to see if it ends up essentially butting up against the events of The Fellowship of the Ring. The outfits we see Ian Holm (once again playing the elderly Bilbo in the framing sequence) and Elijah Wood in during the preview look suspiciously like the ones they’re wearing at the beginning of FotR.
But is that where it really ends?
A Bridge Too Far?
For a long time, there was a lot of talk about this being a trilogy, consisting of the two Hobbit movies and a movie that bridged the events between The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings. Which events, you ask? Well, given that Aragorn was around 10-11 when Bilbo first visited Rivendell, it would be easy to present some of the events of his life leading up to FotR. He was active aiding both Rohan and Gondor during these times, and his long romance with Arwen would be a fine thing to explore in more depth as well. If a bridge film had been planned, I suspect it wouldn’t mostly consisted of these sort of pieces.
Now, reportedly, the bridge film was shelved as a concept a long time ago. Recently, however, word of a third film has bubbled up. At Comic Con, in an interview for the wonderful TheOneRing.net, Jackson said, “We’ve certainly been talking to the studio about some of the material we can’t film. And we’ve been asking them if we can do a bit more filming next year. Which I don’t know what would come of that whether it would be extended editions or what not, but those discussions are ongoing. I’d like to shoot a bunch more material we can shoot…there’s so much good stuff in the appendices that we haven’t been able to squeeze into these movies…that’s a discussion we’re having.”
This ignited rapid and rabid speculation, which has only been fueled by the fact that the L.A. Times is reporting that New Line is “eager to see (a third film) happen, and talks are underway with actors and others who would need to sign off on the plan.” Personally, despite these reports, I don’t put much credence into talk of a third film. I’d love a movie on Aragorn’s life, honestly, but I just can’t imagine it happening. And I really don’t want to see The Hobbit split into three films. Talk about butter over too much bread.
In any case, it looks like we’re in for a rollicking good time the next two Decembers at least…and maybe three.
Are you looking forward to these movies? Are you dreading them? Will you do anything to celebrate their arrival? I may get a crowd in costume this time. Because why not?