When it was announced that Peter Jackson was going to direct the two Hobbit movies himself, film nerds everywhere rejoiced. It’s been a long time since we got to go to Middle Earth, and as this week’s comic-con preview of The Hobbit proved, there’s no better man than Jackson to take us there. Bringing out a ton of cast members to share the limelight with him (including Martin Freeman, Andy Serkis, and just for shits and giggles, Elijah Wood), Jackson showed off a whopping twelve minutes of footage, taken from both of the Hobbit movies, as well as a short featurette about their last day of shooting, which was just a couple of weeks ago. It was exactly as awesome as it sounds.
The featurette conveyed the happy/sad tone that would expect from the last day of shooting on a project like The Hobbit that took so much time (a year and a half of shooting) and effort to put together. The sets and costumes, even without completed effects, all looked great, and there was vibe amongst the crew and cast members of extreme pride in what they had accomplished. It’s rare at comic-con to get behind-the-scenes look like this, and it was neat to see. Of course, Jackson has always been great about putting out production diaries and giving people a glimpse at his process, so it should come as no surprise.
The footage covered a wide range of stuff in it’s twelve minutes, but the two scenes that we got extended looks at were both great. First was one in Bilbo’s home, in which he his is told that he is expected to tag along on this great adventure with Gandalf and his twelve dwarf friends. Martin Freeman brought a great sense of comedy to this scene, and it seems as though his chemistry with the dwarves is going to be a lot of fun to watch. All of the casting was spot-on, it was delightful to see Ian McKellan as Gandalf again.
We also got to take a look at the scene that I think most people are the most excited for, which is Bilbo’s riddle showdown with Gollum in the caves. In my opinion, Andy Serkis’s work as Gollum/Smeagol is the best performance in the original trilogy, and it was amazing to see him jump right back into it. His back-and-forth with Bilbo was awesome, and you can already tell that it’s going to be one of the centerpieces of the film.
We also caught some glimpses of big battles, Laketown on fire (although Smaug hadn’t been animated yet), Stephen Fry being awesome as the master of Laketown, Legolas showing his continued disdain for dwarves, and Cate Blanchett being expectedly ethereal and badass as Galadriel.
All told, The Hobbit looks like exactly what we want it to be: A triumphant return to a world that we all know and love, with characters we can care about, and an epic story we can get invested in. And really, who could ask for more?