Reading ‘The Hobbit’ Tea Leaves

I’ve had this sitting open in tabs on my browser for two days now. I guess I should finally write something about it, even though it’s probably dated and meaningless by now.


So, this is happening: “The Hobbit” is actually filming and is set to release around Christmas 2012. Most of you probably know all about the strange delays, but if you don’t they’re detailed in the WSJ.com story I linked. Also here. If you want to know why it took nine years to get around to it, check out the Wikipedia page (srsly. This is the blogosphere after all).

Sadly, Peter Jackson is directing it. Not that he didn’t do well with the Lord of the Rings and all, but I would have much preferred the original director—Guillermo Del Toro—to have followed through with it. Instead, the legal catfight between the unions and Warner Bros. dragged on for so long that he eventually just walked, taking my hopes of “Hobbit” being awesome like “Pan’s Labyrinth” with him.*

So old P.J., in his post-King Kong (a.k.a. the worst movie I’ve ever seen) glory, gets paid a bajillion dollars to direct and produce a movie about Middle Earth just like good old times. He got his social media on and wrote a lengthy Facebook note introducing the plot and such. Also, there’s an official blog if you’re into official sorts of things.

The Good.

Bringing Ian McKellen back to play Gandalf. This is obviously good. It’s forever his role, and whole generation of LOTR lovers are going to envision Gandalf as McKellen. This is not bad.

Martin Freeman as Bilbo Baggins. This is excellent. Yes, this is the same guy who played the main character in “Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy,” and yes I think he’ll make a fantastic Bilbo.

-It’s split into two parts. I think this was a bad idea for Harry Potter 7, but could be a very good one for “The Hobbit”—provided they have found a natural break in the plot.

Andy Serkis as Gollum. Much like Gandalf, this would have been a severely disappointing change. I’m glad they got Serkis back into the fold for Gollum’s shining moment—the scene he’s most famous for: “Riddles in the Dark.”

The Bad.

-As mentioned, Peter Jackson directing the film. I don’t like it. I thought Del Toro’s ideas were better (see above Wikipedia article) and that after the success of the Lord of the Rings Jackson might assume that the movies are so popular that he can’t mess them up. This, as George Lucas proved, is demonstrably false.

That Orlando Bloom is allowed anywhere near the set. Unfortunately, he’s on the cast list, making me think he’ll make an appearance in Mirkwood. I hope it’s quite brief; I know it almost definitely won’t be. This guy made parts of LOTR unbearable.

The Curious.

No Elrond. Look closely at the cast list—there is no Hugo Weaving and therefore no Elrond character. This is very disappointing and I’m not sure why it apparently didn’t work out.

HOWEVA — these links indicate that Weaving will be in the film, but both are either dated or secondary source material. And then there’s an actual quote:

“And what I’ve heard is that, yeah, they’re interested in me.  I haven’t had any conversations, and I haven’t read any scripts because they’re being closely guarded.  I don’t think the studio has even got the second script yet.”

This was a year ago. He’s not on the cast list, and I can’t find much other news about it. We’ll see.

Elijah Wood making a strange Frodo appearance. Guess they just couldn’t resist throwing a young Frodo into the story. My guess (read: hope) is that he’ll make a cursory appearance toward the end of the second film, but I bet they’re paying him too much money to relegate him to that. I don’t even think Wood makes a good Frodo, but whatever.

Christopher Lee. He’s on the list. Seriously. This is shocking. (a) He’s 89, (b) there’s no way he’ll be able to travel to New Zealand, (c) Saruman isn’t even in “The Hobbit.” How is Saruman in it and not Elrond (who actually appears in the book)?

The only reason I can think of is that parts of the “Hobbit” movies depict some of the things that happen in the silent years between the end of “The Hobbit” and the beginning of “Fellowship.” For example, Gandalf reports during the Council of Elrond that while Bilbo and the dwarves were making their way to the Lonely Mountain, he was seeking Saruman’s council about certain Sauron-related issues (remember, back when Saruman was good and simply curious about the Ring).

But by this reasoning, why isn’t Aragorn in the film? We discover during the Council of Elrond in “Fellowship” that during “Hobbit,” Aragorn actually finds and captures Gollum. How is this not in the film, but a bunch of talking between Saruman, Gandalf, and Galadriel (but not Elrond) is?

Also, on a practical note regarding Christopher Lee, there’s this video:

About New Zealand, he says “It’s too far” like four times. If he actually got pulled into this, I wonder how he was convinced (and I also wonder if they might film his sections in England).

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