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The Kansan - Newton, KS
  • There and back again: Thoughts on what's in store for Peter Jackson's next two 'Hobbit' films

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  • "Hobbit" fans received a special treat this week: the first released trailer for the second part of Peter Jackson's "Hobbit" film trilogy. Although "The Desolation of Smaug" doesn't hit theaters until December, it's arguably one of the year's most anticipated films, and the trailer offers fans a sneak peek at what will be coming.
    Fans had been hoping Peter Jackson would return to Middle-earth ever since he wrapped up his "Lord of the Rings" trilogy, which was well-received by both fans and critics. It took a decade to bring the first Hobbit film to the screen, a process mired by legal battles and the departure of one-time director Guillermo del Toro. The planned two-film project was expanded to a trilogy, and Jackson announced he'd be pulling in additional material from fantasy author J.R.R. Tolkien's other writings.
    After the release of the first Hobbit film, "An Unexpected Journey," last December, Jackson finds himself in an interesting position. While the film was an undisputed blockbuster, taking in more than $1 billion worldwide, it wasn't as well received by critics as his "Rings" trilogy. Reviews were far more mixed, and the film proved unexpectedly divisive among fans.
    Personally, I quite enjoyed the first "Hobbit" film. It captured the original book's more lighthearted tone, and it was great to see familiar faces, such as Ian McKellen's "Gandalf." With his spot-on comic timing, BBC "Sherlock" star Martin Freeman was the perfect choice for Bilbo, and I liked the fact Middle-earth's Dwarven culture was given more attention this time around.
    You could argue the "Hobbit" film didn't quite project the same sense of epic grandeur as the "Lord of the Rings" trilogy, and I think "An Unexpected Journey" could have been trimmed down to a leaner running time, heightening its impact. However, it was still a very fun film, and I believe Jackson has an opportunity to give us an even better movie the second time around.
    The new trailer for "The Desolation of Smaug" includes clips from what will likely be the film's two big action set pieces (scenes also featured in the book): a battle with giant spiders in the forest of Mirkwood and the harrowing escape from the dungeons of the Wood-elves.
    I'm curious to see what Jackson has done with the character Thranduil. I think this character, an Elven king, will offer a different perspective on the Elves of Middle-earth. We're used to seeing proud and noble (if somewhat detached) Elves like Galadriel and Elrond. But Thranduil is perhaps a little more conniving, and he isn't as trustworthy.
    The trailer also introduces a new character, an Elf named Tauriel, who doesn't appear in Tolkien's writings. Fans have been somewhat skeptical of her character so far. While I do have mixed feelings about adding in a major character who wasn't a part of the original story (especially when you have so many main characters already), I'm willing to give Tauriel a chance. And — as WordPress blogger RA Frenzy brings up in her blog about the trailer rafrenzy.com/2013/06/11/dear-sir-peter-again — the addition of Tauriel and some of Jackson's other changes add a sense of mystery to the plot. Even if you've read the book, you don't necessarily know what's going to happen in the film. I'm not as much of a stickler as I used to be about book-to-film adaptations. I want a movie based on a book to capture the spirit of the original story, but sometimes it's nice to throw in a few surprises too.
    Page 2 of 2 - The trailer is pretty action-packed, and we actually catch relatively few glimpses of Bilbo. I'm hoping in the actual film, with all the battles and new characters, Bilbo doesn't get lost in the action. Martin Freeman's performance was the best part of the first film for me, and his character is the heart of the story. I'm also hoping to see more character development for Thorin (Richard Armitage), the leader of the Dwarves. I've been a fan of Armitage's ever since I saw him on the BBC series "Robin Hood," and I'm looking forward to seeing where he takes the character in the next film.
    So, what did you think of the trailer for the next Hobbit movie? Are you excited? What did you like/not like about it?
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