Soon, we’re going to be treated to one of the most long-awaited films of all time. Yes, people were excited about Lord of the Rings, but The Hobbit is probably more familiar to some of us, especially those of us that grew up with the Rankin and Bass cartoon (available in its entirety on YouTube here).
So, I’m going to treat this article like a precursor for those of you that 1.) loved The Hobbit, either as a book or cartoon and 2.) those of you that saw Lord of the Rings, loved it, but never read The Hobbit or even know what really happens.
I’ll try to avoid major spoilers, just in case.
The Hobbit is a simple story. I almost think of it like a children’s story compared to the huge scope of Lord of the Rings. We follow Bilbo Baggins (to be played by Martin Freeman, of Sherlock, the UK version of The Office, and Love Actually) as he goes on an extraordinary journey.
The story is fairly simple. Bilbo, Gandalf, and 13 dwarves go on a journey to retrieve a treasure that once belonged to the dwarves, but is now claimed by a dragon named Smaug. All sorts of shenanigans ensue and Bilbo ends up crossing paths with the creature Gollum and inherits the One Ring, though we don’t even sense the greater evil of the ring in these films, other than what it’s done to Gollum.
Luckily, Peter Jackson has ensured that the Hobbit films will line up with the Lord of the Rings films by bringing back all sorts of familiar faces. Hugo Weaving will return as Elrond, Orlando Bloom will have a cameo as Legolas (who doesn’t actually appear in the book), and of course Ian McKellen will reprise the pivotal role of Gandalf the Grey. Other returners include Ian Holm as an old Bilbo and Elijah Wood as Frodo, which I believe will bookend the three Hobbit films. Did I mention it’s a three-part film?
So let’s talk new additions. The movie will pretty much weigh on Martin Freeman as Bilbo.
If you haven’t seen the BBC series Sherlock, you need to Netflix it right now. Freeman’s counterpart in Sherlock, Benedict Cumberbatch, will be in The Hobbit as well, but in an entirely different way. Cumberbatch will be voicing the dragon Smaug, as well as intensive facial-capturing to give the creature some sense of character.
Now, Bilbo is joined on this adventure by 13 dwarves. That is a lot of characters to learn and distinguish, especially since they’re so alike.
I’m hoping with a three-part film, Jackson is able to spend some time with the dwarves as individuals and help us to learn who they are and what makes them different.
I’m fairly unfamiliar with the actors, except for Aidan Turner who starred as the vampire roommate in the UK Being Human series (review here). I’ve seen a few behind-the-scenes specials and Jackson seems to have put some extensive thought into what makes the dwarves unique from each other. In the book (which I just finished re-reading), they get relegated to groupings, such as Kili and Fili, who are always just… together. With a likelihood of 6 or 7 hours of screen-time, hopefully we learn a little bit about these dwarves.
As I re-read the book, there was a section that I remembered was cut from the Rankin and Bass film and I thought would’ve probably be the first to be cut from this film. Beorn. Beorn is a shapeshifter, who can change from man to bear at will. His scenes in the middle of the book are uneventful but he does show up during the final battle of the book and make quite a splash, so I’m excited to see that they’ve cast the part. Jackson has cast Swedish actor Mikael Persbrandt. Looking at his IMDb listing, this looks to be his first big international film and could definitely open up a world of opportunity for him. I’m just excited to see a guy turn into a bear.
Why You Should Be Excited
Now, for those of you that haven’t read The Hobbit, but were relatively happy/excited with The Lord of the Rings, here’s why you should be excited.
It has a simple story and everyone pretty much cruises together, aside from a few detours by Mr. Baggins. The Two Towers and Return of the King felt scattered because its huge cast was all over the place. Well, this is a very streamlined adventure and should be easy to follow.
There is plenty of action. The enemies are numerous and varied, with some familiar types and a few that we’ve never experienced before. The final battle (known as the “Battle of Five Armies”) is just a short chapter in the book, we can be assured that it will just as awe-inspiring as either the Helm’s Deep battle in The Two Towers or the assault on Minas Tirith in Return of the King. Peter Jackson seems like the type to always go bigger and better. When they decided to split the story into three films, that gives them plenty of room to add in some amazing battle scenes.
I’m personally excited to see Gollum back in action. He only has one scene in The Hobbit, unless they’ve added some things in, but his interactions with Bilbo are interesting and should be extremely engaging to watch. I’m also excited to see Smaug (although that’ll be the 2nd film to come) and see how they integrate facial-capturing technology to make a dragon come to life.
For fans of the Hobbit book, you should also be excited that Jackson is expanding on what Tolkien gave us, by showing us some stories that we only heard about. In addition to Smaug, Benedict Cumberbatch is also cast as “The Necromancer,” who is a lieutenant of Sauron that is causing mischief in The Hobbit but doesn’t ever really get explored. Hopefully we see a little of that action.
This may tie into the above a bit, but we get to see Saruman in action, ideally as a good guy this time around. We also get a peek at a wizard who got the short end of the stick for The Lord of the Rings. Radagast the Brown is a wizard who is known for befriending animals and actually called the eagles to rescue Gandalf in Fellowship of the Ring, though the movie didn’t cover this. Both Saruman and Radagast are cast for these films, so I’m excited to see this look into the lives of wizards.
You should be excited. It looks like all the pieces are in order. Now, whether you’ve seen it before or not, watch the first official trailer here.
Thanks for reading!