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Pop Rocks: The Hobbit Trailer -- A Not So Unexpected Journey

The trailer for The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey dropped like Boromir after taking a few Uruk-hai arrows yesterday. The first of Peter Jackson's two-part adaptation of J.R.R. Tolkien's prequel to the Lord of the Rings trilogy doesn't hit theaters until December 2012, giving us all ample time to pick the preview apart like so many pocket protector-wearing vultures.

I have to admit to feeling a bit underwhelmed after seeing it. Yeah yeah yeah; don't judge a movie by its trailer. And I'm not, but having seen Jackson's LotR movies, there's plenty of fodder for discussion here.

And fair warning, there will be spoilers. For while I realize the movie doesn't come out for an entire year, the book it's based on was published before World War II. Chances are your dad has a copy lying around someplace.

For those of you who just got back from Mirkwood today, here's the trailer.

Pretty promising, yeah? Adventure, fighting, singing, Gollum. It's just like old times, only with dwarves. Lots and lots of dwarves.

Anyway let's, as DJ Lance would say, a-break it down.

The Good

Ian McKellen Is Back Gandalf (still the Grey) is the main connection between the Hobbit and LotR (I understand Hugo Weaving is back as Elrond, too, but his part in the book is minimal), so failing to sign McKellan would have doomed this from the start. Fortunately for us, interest in continuing the moribund X-Men franchise has waned considerably. All credit to Brett Ratner.

All Hail Martin Freeman Did you like him as Dr. Watson in the BBC's Sherlock? As John the disarming porno actor in Love, Actually? As Arthur Dent in The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy? Then New Line is hoping you find him sufficiently adequate as Young Bilbo Baggins.

Is That Dol Guldur? A.k.a. the home of the Necromancer, who -- in addition to being the subject of a wicked Rush song -- is actually Sauron in disguise. It's in the dungeons of the Mirkwood fortress that Gandalf finds Thrain, father of Thorin Oakenshield, and retrieves the map of the Lonely Mountain. Looks a lot like Osgiliath, but fair's fair, we only glimpse it for a few seconds here.

The Bad

Everything Old Is Old Again They're playing up Rivendell quite a bit, and it looks like An Unexpected Journey is going to spend a lot of time there. Taken with the fact that Jackson split this into two movies, I'm wary of seeing the same kind of bloat that swelled the second two LotR flicks. Less green screen, more scenic Antipodean vistas, por favor.

Jeez, Lighten Up, Guys Comparisons are always drawn between the doom-filled trilogy and the more whimsical Hobbit, and it's largely due to our knowledge that the little trinket Bilbo pockets in the caves under the Misty Mountains is much more than it seems that we have that feeling of impending dread. But will there be no singing goblins? No Bilbo taunting the spiders with cries of "Attercop" and "Lazy Lob?" Will the dish throwing provide sufficiently lighthearted counterweight to that sad bastard dwarf song? And speaking of dwarves...

Holy Shit, *That's* Balin? As in, "Here lies Balin, son of Fundin, Lord of Moria" Balin? No wonder he couldn't hold on to the Dwarrowdelf, he looks older than Gandalf.

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The WTF?

Uh, Galadriel? I understand Elrond being in this, because he's the guy who points out some key things on their map of the Lonely Mountain, but bringing Galadriel into things makes me uneasy. Doubtless we'll have much discussion of The Necromancer and the coming Age of Men and whatnot. And why does it look like she's "sharing a moment" with Gandalf? Poor Celeborn.

Is That An Oakenshield In Your Pocket Or... Maybe my perceptions have been colored by that old Rankin-Bass cartoon, to say nothing of the original story, but these guys are a lot more, well, human-looking than I'd been led to believe. Especially Thorin (Richard Armitage)...how *you* doin', short, dark and mustachioed? What was up with Gimli? Was he just particularly stunted?

Oh, Who Am I Kidding? I'll be there. You'll be there. Everyone will be there. It's...our precious.

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