Things are going into overdrive for Peter Jackson‘s first film adapting The Hobbit, but before the film opens on December 14 we’ve got a great behind the scenes look at the production of the film. This 13-minute featurette features a lot of film footage you probably haven’t seen yet, and has some good interviews, to boot.

Plus, we’ve got the first official still from the second Hobbit movie (or is it from the third?) after the break.

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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 »

Just yesterday we passed on some quotes from Peter Jackson about the process of designing the dragon Smaug, aka the big villain of the book The Hobbit, and Jackson’s three films adapting it. At the time that interview was conducted, Smaug wasn’t quite done. But we know that he makes a very brief appearance in The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, which is starting to screen for press and has already had its world premiere in New Zealand.

Now a new TV spot features the first footage that gives any real glimpse of Smaug. But don’t expect too much. There’s a good bit of firey strafing from an object flying through the sky, but frankly the footage here almost looks as if it features a less than fully rendered shape. If nothing else, the shots used in this spot really don’t need to show the dragon in much detail, and indeed they don’t.

Check it out for yourself below, in both video and still form. Read More »

Not long ago we pointed you toward Rolling Stone for the premiere of Neil Finn‘s end credits song for The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey. Now we can point you back to the site for a stream of the full score. If you’re ready to experience Howard Shore‘s music divorced from Peter Jackson‘s film, head right here and enable the player. I understand wanting to wait, however; I’m going to hold off listening to the score on its own until after I’ve seen the film.

But there’s a bit more, after the break, as Jackson recently had a few good things to say about the differences in effects approaches in this return to Middle-Earth. Advances in CG effects mean that Jackson can turn human actors into even more imposing Orcs and Goblins than was possible a decade ago. He also talks about the process of designing the dragon Smaug, who we might see very briefly in this first film. Read More »

Peter Jackson and Warner Bros. premiered The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey yesterday in New Zealand, but a review embargo was set in place to keep reviews from flooding the interwebs in advance of the first major US press screenings this weekend. But that embargo trick never really works, and so of course at least one outlet has broken out with a review (some might say “review”) in advance of the agreed-upon date. Get a few bits of reaction info below. Read More »

Depending on your level of Avatar fandom, the delay between the first film and its eventual sequels could be construed as a blessing or a curse. On the one hand, James Cameron has certainly taken his time writing the two films, meaning we may not see the first one until 2015 at the earliest. That’s a six year gap from the original. However, he’s taking his time because he doesn’t want to rush out an inferior product, so hopefully Avatar 2 and 3 will be worth the wait.

The writer/director attended this week’s New Zealand premiere of The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey and gave an update on the highly anticipated films. Cameron plans on finishing the screenplays by February and hopes to start filming (possibly in High Frame Rate) in late 2013. Read his quotes and more after the jump. Read More »

Seriously, Warner Bros., we don’t need any more reasons to see The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey. We’re there. Especially in IMAX. Not only will the first part of Peter Jackson‘s Hobbit trilogy be gorgeous in the giant format, it has the first 9 minutes of Star Trek Into Darkness attached. Apparently, that wasn’t thought to be enough incentive, because the studio has now announced four character posters that will be given out exclusively to fans who see the film at 12:01 a.m. screenings on December 14. Check them out below. Read More »

Here’s the latest behind the scenes video chronicling the production of Peter Jackson‘s The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey. By this point we’ve seen quite a lot of footage from the film — enough for someone to cut together nearly eight minutes worth of the story — and no small amount of behind the scenes stuff.

This video focuses on post-production, which is appropriate as the New Zealand premiere of the film is only days away, on Wednesday November 28. And the movie hits the States on December 14, which isn’t that far off at all. Peter Jackson is back in his “I really need a nap mode,” as is just about everyone else shown in the video. After seeing the huge scope of the production in past blogs, it’s pretty fun to see the little tiny editing room where Jackson and his editor are assembling the film. This also gives a new glimpse at quite a few new effects shots that we haven’t seen in the past, as well as a look at the pipeline for the creation of the film’s last effects.  Read More »

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