When The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey is good, it’s really good. Throughout Peter Jackson‘s first film in the Hobbit trilogy, his camera sweeps through an epic battle, and Howard Shore’s score crescendos through the speakers as thirteen dwarves, one wizard and a hobbit fight for their lives. That’s what most audiences are paying to see, and the film provides that on a grand scale, again and again.

“Again and again” is also the film’s biggest issue. On a consistent basis, it’s almost as if Jackson forgets he has two more films to release and is forced to pump the brakes. Tangents pop out of nowhere, dialogue scenes are stretched into infinity, and a familiar structure of capture followed by rousing escape, is consistently repeated. Much of the film feels like it’s purposely attempting to stall the dwarves’ quest from progressing.

What we’re left with is a huge, beautiful piece of entertainment, the lows of which are slightly outweighed by its adrenaline pumping highs. The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey works, but feels bloated, derived from the fact that it’s based on a child’s book, only stuffed and stretched beyond the bounds of J.R.R. Tolkien‘s original narrative.  Still, its flaws and fun work hand in hand to provide a suitably rousing first act to the Hobbit trilogy. Read More »

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With the last teaser poster for The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, the Warner Bros. marketing team quite consciously called back to Peter Jackson‘s earlier Lord of the Rings trilogy. The portrait of a sword-wielding Bilbo Baggins (Martin Freeman) was of a piece with the posters for Fellowship of the Rings and Return of the King, which showed Frodo and Aragorn, respectively, in similar poses.

But as striking as it was, it left out a many of the key players in the movie — namely, the merry band of dwarves. The new poster remedies that by cramming all thirteen dwarves onto the page at once, along with a plate of cupcakes for them to snack on. Check it out after the jump.

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Ten years ago this week The Fellowship of the Ring was released. Peter Jackson‘s first Tolkien adaption silenced a great many naysayers who said J.R.R. Tolkien‘s novels could never be properly translated to film. It also fostered a mainstream interest in fantasy movies that continues a decade later.

The development of a film based on Tolkien’s original Middle-Earth novel, The Hobbit, was the subject of speculation as soon as Jackson started work on The Lord of the Rings. Actually making the movie was a terrifically complicated process that involved rights deals, the financial solvency of MGM, a long period of development under original director Guillermo del Toro, and the eventual return of Peter Jackson to the director’s chair.

Now the first teaser trailer — a long teaser, at that — has been released for the first of two films based on the novel. Get the first look at footage from The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, after the break. Read More »

This is what happens when a production spaces the reveal of a baker’s dozen major characters over the span of a week: the head honcho doesn’t even get his own post. We’ve seen five photos showing ten of the dwarf company that treks from the Shire to the Misty Mountain in Peter Jackson‘s The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, and now here’s the first look at Richard Armitage as the dwarf leader, Thorin Oakenshield. (The others: Dori, Nori & Ori; Oin & Gloin; Fili & Kili, Bofur, Bombur & Bifur; Balin & Dwalin.)

Along with that, we’ve got the first official image of another authoritative figure: Judge Dredd, played by Karl Urban in the appropriately-titled Dredd. Read More »

At this point what more is there to say about yet another dwarf reveal from The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey? (Other than, perhaps, “uh, where’s Thorin?”) Here is the latest image dispatch from Peter Jackson‘s version of Middle-Earth, featuring Ken Stott as Balin (on the left) and Graham McTavish as Dwalin.

These two guys are peers, more or less, for Thorin, the dwarf who assembles the company that travels from the Shire to the Misty Mountain. We’ll likely see Thorin next week, and hopefully a couple of the new human character, too. In the meantime, see the full new image below. Read More »

Warner Bros/New Line Cinema and MGM have announced the start of production on The Hobbit in New Zealand, which includes a full update on the signed cast (many of which have been previously announced or rumored, but a couple new additions):

Martin Freeman takes the title role as Bilbo Baggins and Ian McKellen returns in the role of Gandalf the Grey. The Dwarves are played by Richard Armitage (Thorin Oakenshield), Ken Stott (Balin), Graham McTavish (Dwalin), William Kircher (Bifur) James Nesbitt (Bofur), Stephen Hunter (Bombur), Rob Kazinsky (Fili), Aidan Turner (Kili), Peter Hambleton (Gloin), John Callen (Oin), Jed Brophy (Nori), Mark Hadlow (Dori) and Adam Brown (Ori). Reprising their roles from “The Lord of the Rings” trilogy are Cate Blanchett as Galadriel, Andy Serkis as Gollum and Elijah Wood as Frodo. Jeffrey Thomas and Mike Mizrahi also join the cast as Dwarf Kings Thror and Thrain, respectively. Further casting announcements are expected.

Director Peter Jackson has also launched a facebook page which will be updated throughout the production. The first updates includes two production photos featuring Jackson in a couple of the completed sets. Hit the jump to see everything.
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Peter Jackson Announces ‘The Hobbit’ Cast

Peter Jackson has, at long last, made an official announcement about who will appear in The Hobbit. He has confirmed Martin Freeman as Bilbo Baggins, taking over the role originated by Ian Holm in The Lord of the Rings. A great many other names were released as well, almost all of whom make up the large company of Dwarves that hires Bilbo to be their ‘burgler’ before setting out to kill the dragon Smaug and recover the dwarven treasure the dragon uses as a bed. All the names are after the break. Read More »

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