Jan 11 2011 6:24pm

Ian McKellen is Back; The Hobbit Allowed to Continue

A number of familiar faces from the Lord of the Rings movie trilogy have returned for the prequel The Hobbit, most notably the director Peter Jackson, Cate Blanchett, Andy Serkis, and even Elijah Wood, to join the estimable Martin Freeman, who joins on as the young Bilbo Baggins. Completing the “getting the band back together” feeling nicely is the recent announcement, surely a great relief to LOTR fans everywhere, that Sir Ian McKellen will in fact be able to reprise his role as Gandalf.

With the long-rumored and -delayed two-part Hobbit now essentially a fait accompli, are you excited, thrilled, on the edge of your chairs? Filled with a sense of impending doom? Or some other feeling...my dictionary calls it “ambivalence”? I think that’s the word, I have no idea what it means.

Danny Bowes is a playwright, filmmaker and blogger. He is also a contributor to nytheatre.com and Premiere.com.

Roger Powell
1. forkroot
Hopefully it will be the Ian McKellen of the brilliant performance given in Fellowship (should've received an Oscar for that.)
The Ian McKellen of the Two Towers or Return of the King (yawn) ... whaever. To be fair, it wasn't Sir Ian's fault that Jackson decided to dump New Age mysticism into Tolkien's work.
Iain Coleman
2. Iain_Coleman

Be fair. In the second and third movies, Sir Ian achieves absolutely masterful performances of huge gobs of infodump that would surely defeat any lesser actor.
F Shelley
3. FSS
I'm more interested in how the films will be treated. Will they have the children's book feel that the book has, or will they be PG-13, more young adult films instead? We already know it will use Frodo reading "There and Back Again" as a framing device (Elijah Wood is confirmed for the 2 movies), so it will certainly depart from the book; the question for me is: How much? And, should I take my 8 year old daughter to see it?

I'm sure Ian McKellan will do just fine with whatever he's given. I'm just concerned with what he'll be given.
Bradford DeLong
4. Bradford DeLong
Two movies? How do you make "The Hobbit" into two movies?
Bradford DeLong
5. Dr. Thanatos
More importantly, what the Udun are Frodo and Galadriel going to be doing in this movie?
Bradford DeLong
6. Smaug's Li'l Brother Puff
Doc T@5: See FSS@3 for the answer to Frodo's purpose. I'm betting it's Frodo framing the narrative, reading "There and Back Again" to, oh, let's say Sam in footie 'jammies, in order to 1) emphasize that storybook feel and 2) give people who've seen the movies but not read the books an immediate connection to it, especially since they won't be seeing Ian Holm anywhere.

As for what is Galadriel doing in it? It's already been speculated that the movies will contain material from the LotR Appendices and references made in the main story to offstage events, to wit, she will be seen with Gandalf and the rest of the White Council whipping the Necromancer (i.e., Sauron) while Bilbo and the dwarves are hiking through Mirkwood.
Bradford DeLong
7. Stefan Jones
Yes, I'm excited.

I've been rereading the trilogy after a space of ten years. I'm currently reading the bits in The Two Towers were Pippin and Merry are carried off by the orcs.

I'm really astonished at how well Jackson & company adapted the books. Yes, great hunks of stuff were deleted, including some important stuff. But the scriptwriters did a great job of distilling the story. The movies are like a really good Classics Illustrated version of the trilogy.

I trust Jackson and company to do a cracking good job with The Hobbit.
Tim Cottrell
8. Wolfbrother87
FSS@3: This was precisely my thought as I read through The Hobbit recently, will they stick with the feel of the LotR trilogy, or shift it for kids, as the book does. I personally hope they go with a kids film.

Wolfbrother Out!
James Hogan
9. Sonofthunder
FSS @3 and Wolfbrother87 @8, agree with both of you, which is why I was a little worried on the choice of PJ as director. I'm a bit afraid it will have the same feel as LotR, but we shall see...
Paul Weimer
10. PrinceJvstin
IMO, the "two movie approach", and throwing in people like Saruman, Galadriel, etc, does sound like they are going for LOTR "epic feel" rather than the children's book the Hobbit truly is...
James Goetsch
11. Jedikalos
Making two movies of it is rather strange. Has any rationale been offered?
Ian Tregillis
12. ITregillis
Stefan Jones @ 7:

Weird-- I'm also rereading for the first time in many years, and just hit that exact same spot on the bus this morning.
Bradford DeLong
13. pilgrimsoul
Any thoughts on the hotness of the actors cast as the Dwarves. Richard Armitage as Thorin--do I drool or become indignant?
Bradford DeLong
14. RanchoUnicorno
@11 - I doubt it will be publicly proffered, but I suspect that much of the rationale is based on the theory that two movies would make twice as much money as one movie. I'll gladly go see both movies and I'm already torn on whether I would end up buying each one for home viewing upon release or wait until the inevitable combined edition.

My concern is a little different. After shifting the Dwarves (well, Dwarf) from awesome to comic relief in the trilogy, how is tying the two together going to help moviegoers overcome the preconception of the story being that of "creepy Uncle Bilbo and and a bunch of sarcastic twits?" Jackson's treatment of Gimli already has me a little nervous...
Bradford DeLong
15. Edgewalker81
Wow, go back and re-read The Hobbit, people!

First, the Battle of 5 Armies and Smaug alone would take 20 minutes or so. Gollum would be another 15 minutes and the intro to the dwarves would be 15 as well. That's one hour right there. There is a TON of stuff in the book. Beorn, Rivendell, Misty Mountains, Dale, Trolls, Goblins and Wargs..to do it right would warrant two movies, easily.

Second, when did we decide that PJ wasn't a good director or that McKellen as Gandalf was anything short of brilliant?

This comment thread is typical of the Internet, sadly.
Bradford DeLong
16. pilgrimsoul
I don't think the comments are meant to be critical of Jackson and especially not the wonder Ian McKellen, but there's concern or even some dismay at the--stretching? padding? additions?--to the story JRRT wrote and we all love.
F Shelley
17. FSS
@Edgewalker - like Pilgrimsoul said...this isn't criticism, it's a question. I think the Hobbit film will work just fine as a PG-13 work, but the book itself is a fairly straightfoward, if a bit bloody, children's book. So what will it be?
Bradford DeLong
18. Tehanu
I think I read that the second film will lead from the Battle of Five Armies right up to Bilbo's Birthday Party ... with material from the chronology in the appendices. That's the rationale for 2 movies, to make the whole thing the lead-in to Fellowship, not just the backstory.
Bradford DeLong
19. Edgewalker
Oh, I was referring to the first two comments about Gandalf.
Chris Chaplain
20. chaplainchris1
forkroot@1 - would you be willing to elaborate on your comments? Not that I disagree with them - it's just that nothing about McKellen's performance in the last two movies, nor anything about "New Age mysticism" comes to mind. In my case, I'm sure it's because, while I *loved* the first movie (possibly my favorite of all time, and I completely agree about the Oscar-worthiness of McKellen's Gandalf in Fellowship), I almost equally loathed the second two. I loathe so much about them (but especially the horrible treatment of Faramir, the disrespect of Frodo, the ridiculous situation of Arwen, and the insane Aragorn/Arwen/Eowyn triangle) that I'm rather unable to muster complaints about a particular actor's performance.

Actually, I tend to think the movies were well-made and well-acted - they just weren't the same story Tolkien told.

Anyway, in my loathing I missed the New Ageiness you refer to, and am curious. The only candidate I can think of is Gandalf describing his return - which seems somewhat close to the language used in the book, iirc (and I may not).

Regarding the Hobbit - using Frodo and Galadriel makes me nervous, and from my perspective, Peter Jackson is 1 for 3 in his Tolkien movies, so I'm...not exactly looking forward to it. I truly *dread* what will be done to Beorn. But I admit, I'd *love* seeing the White Council in action against the Necromancer. (Wouldn't we also need Christopher Lee, though? And what about Hugo Weaving - since Elrond's actually *in* the Hobbit, shouldn't he be in the movie?)

Anyway, despite the dread, I'll certainly see both movies on opening days. The question is, will I see them more than once and will I want to own them? That's were PJ and co. are going to have to work it.
Bradford DeLong
21. edgewalker
Faramir was my favorite character in the books and I still love the 2nd and 3rd movies. They are different from the books, but different in good ways. They couldn't make the Ring an evil entity that tempted even Aragorn, but then Faramir was immune.
Matt Ostrom
22. Mattimage
I am so exited that they are making The Hobbit movie. I was worried for a while that it wouldn’t be made. I have been following the Hobbit Movie on there website. They picked a perfect Bilbo. I wish I could have a small part in the production of the Hobbit, That would be a dream come true. Oh well. Got to shoot for smaller dreams. Can’t wait to see the Hobbit. There should be a more recent article on Tor about the Hobbit Movie. I’m sure there will be one soon. :)

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