Note: this is an archived entry. Some links might not still work, but I have tried to ensure scan and video embeds are still in place. If any linked material is unavailable, please let me know and I’ll attempt to find a copy in my personal archives.
As the December 6 New York premiere of The Hobbit approaches, preview material has been appearing all over the place. I’m sorry haven’t been able to quite keep up… in addition to work and family responsibilities, I have a new, possibly insane kitten in the house. But I will get right to all the new and slightly older stuff straight away… Hugo Weaving did NOT appear and the December 1 Tokyo premiere despite earlier announcements he would; even TORN’s coverage of the event mistakenly lists him being there. But the only actors who appeared were Martin Freeman, Andy Serkis, Richard Armitage and Elijah Wood. Of course, Peter Jackson was also on hand. TORN has clips of their interviews and some of the red carpet; I watched a bit of the event streamed live, but had to crash eventually because it was around 4am here.
I have no idea if Hugo will attend the New York premiere or the London Royal Premiere that follows on December 12; we can only hope for the best and enjoy the interviews and coverage we do get. So far, Martin Freeman, Ian McKellen, Elijah Wood, Peter Jackson and Andy Serkis seem to be doing most of the promotional heavy lifting in the US media; Richard Armitage will probably join them when the second and third films come out; Armitage isn’t as well known to US audiences now, but if The Hobbit is a hit, this will change; early reviews suggests Armitage gets a lot of the sort of dramatic material Viggo Mortensen got as Aragorn in LOTR.
Ian McKellen appeared yesterday on The Today Show and The Colbert Report; Martin Freeman appeared on Today this morning and is scheduled for Colbert and David Letterman tonight. Peter Jackson, Elijah Wood and Andy Serkis will round out the week on these shows. I still don’t know which show the Zealandia interview (featuring Hugo along with Freeman, Wood, Armitage and Serkis) but I’ll share those details as soon as I know them.
But there is one Hugo Weaving Hobbit interview I can share wit you this minute; it’s the now-standard on-set interview wherein an actor briefly discusses his character and his role in the film. Yes, of course the full cast gets similar treatment; there are convenient links to the other interviews on the clip’s YouTube page.
There are also six new clips featuring footage from the completed film and over 20 minutes of B-Roll footage; you can see both compiled at Collider (6 Clips, B-Roll). I’ll warn you that these go heavily into spoiler territory, so I haven’t watched all of them. I felt too much of Cloud Atlas was revealed prematurely in these sort of previews, and it’s far from the only film to suffer too many spoilers in the name of promotion. Since it’s been much longer since I read The Hobbit than Cloud Atlas, I’m trying to hold off on watching every scrap of preview footage until I see the film. I did buy tickets for a December 13 midnight screening in the full IMAX 3D presentation… according to TORN’s list of HFR screens, I might be seeing the vaunted (though already controversial) 48 FPS as well, though I don’t know for certain if the midnight screening is in that format, just that the theater I’m going to has the technology. (Though I can’t imagine anyone NOT taking advantage under the circumstances.)
I’ll embed Collider’s full compilation of six preview clips under the cut, as well as the one featuring Hugo as Elrond (a lot of this was already seen in the alternate ending of the second theatrical trailer) and all the the B-Roll into more-easily-digested three to five minute segments. I do know that Hugo is briefly seen in the third of these.
Collider’s compilation: six preview clips (can’t embed; Hugo clip below, but video still up at Collider)
Preview clip: “Swords Are Named For The Great Deeds They Do In War” (featuring Elrond)
B-Roll part 1: Gollum’s cave
B-Roll Part 2: Dinner with Dwarves, The Contract, “The Lonely Mountain”, Orcs
B-Roll Part 3: Dwarf Barbecue, Rivendell (incl great footage of Hugo and Sir Ian out of character)
B-Roll Part 4: The White Council, Frodo and (older) Bilbo, Making Camp, Sting, Into Battle
B-Roll Part 5: Traveling, Mountain Storm, Goblins, Rivendell
Note: Hugo appears in B-Roll clips 3 and 5.
And here are Warner Bros official TV Spot 8 and 9 clips:
UPDATE: Here’s Entertainment Tonight’s 7-minute interview with the cast at WETA, with actors combined into the same groups as on Australian TV (Weaving/Blanchett/Wood, Armitage/Freeman/Serkis)
Early reviews for The Hobbit lean positive, though some critics are wary of the 48 FPS technology, some find a few SFX sequences spotty (a feeling I get from some of the ads- there might be an over reliance on CG-based sets) and some miss the thrill of discovery from the original trilogy (something that can’t be avoided, really.) BUT no one pans the actors, storytelling or direction, so there’s still good reason to be optimistic. Here are some quotes from early reviews; click links to read the rest, which in some cases are quite long and spoilery:
Dave Trumbore, Collider: “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey is a classic adventure quest in the making; packed with colorful characters, gorgeous settings and plenty of action, the only setbacks are technical ones….For The Hobbit prequel trilogy, Jackson and screenwriters Fran Walsh, Philippa Boyens and Guillermo del Toro portioned out Tolkien’s original tome to suit the needs of all three films (though it was originally only two). Judging from An Unexpected Journey, I think it’s safe to say that we’re in good hands, as far as story goes…. The humor of The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey is mostly on par with that of Lord of the Rings but there are moments clearly meant for kids in this more family-friendly installment (though it is rated PG-13 and there are a surprising number of decapitations…)[Richard] Armitage brings gravitas and solemnity to the role of Thorin, especially when surrounded by the clownish Dwarves in his company…. [The rest of the actors playing] Dwarvish company, who all did fantastic jobs, weren’t given much room to breathe. Hopefully, now that they’ve been introduced, they’ll get some individual moments in the future films….McKellen is fantastic as Gandalf, a role he was surely born to play. As the meddling wizard, he’s as charming and manipulative as ever. McKellen also continues to show great range as both the soft-spoken advisor, the knick-of-time rescuer and even as the upstart challenger to his superiors and mentors. There’s a great scene that reunites McKellen’s Gandalf with Galadriel (Cate Blanchett), Saruman the White wizard (Christopher Lee) and Elrond (Hugo Weaving), all who happen to be more powerful than Gandalf. Not only does it connect the characters throughout the entire arc of Tolkien films, it establishes their relationships and actually manages to strengthen the Lord of the Rings series because of it. A small scene, but a well-directed one. And I can’t forget Serkis, who is brilliant as usual. …. I admire and support Jackson’s decision to use 48fps and 3D going forward, but there is still some work to do to make it seamless…On the plus side, the costume and make-up design for the flesh-and-blood characters and creatures was phenomenal, even managing to surpass the original Lord of the Rings trilogy….The greatest achievement of The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, is how well it ties in with the Lord of the Rings trilogy, much better than, say, the original Star Wars films and their prequels, which are widely-considered to be inferior… The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey has set a high bar for the next two installments, but if the Lord of the Rings trilogy is any indication, I fully believe that bar will be surpassed. A-”
Graeme Tuckett, The Dominion Post: “Let’s get the obvious out of the way immediately. The Hobbit is a very different experience to The Lord of The Rings. The book was written years earlier, and it was written for an audience of children…. Although some of the locations are identical, everything is brighter and lighter here…. Bilbo’s companions for his unexpected journey turn up for dinner, break into song, and engage in a bout of pottery juggling. It’s fun to watch, but it sure ain’t foreboding… In the 3-D at 48 frames per second that The Hobbit is intended to be screened in, this film shines in a manner that we have never seen before. The image on screen isn’t just ”more real”, it is hyper-real. Everything is bright, and pin sharp….Most people I asked said they adjusted to the effect after a few minutes, and then settled in and started to enjoy the film. But in two and three quarter hours, I didn’t feel that old familiar joy of being immersed in a picture. I could only watch The Hobbit move across the screen, I was never caught up in the story in the way that I am with the films I love….Again, how could I not think of The Lord of the Rings; films that I have never had any trouble getting lost in. Of course Rings had thousands of digital effects shots as well – these films cannot be made without them – but I missed that old awe, watching The Hobbit. I missed the genuine excitement of watching and hearing Boromir and Strider battling the orcs in a pine forest. Knowing that those scenes were largely shot outside, under sunlight augmented by lamps, among real trees. Call me old-fashioned, but there is a difference… The dwarves all do their jobs just fine, with Richard Armitage as their leader the only one with any real dramatic heavy lifting to get through. Around them, returning campaigners Cate Blanchett, Hugo Weaving, and Sir Ian McKellen are all very good, with McKellen seemingly relishing his work even more than ever….But Martin Freeman – as Bilbo – is truly excellent. This is an inspired bit of casting, and it will pay dividends as the films progress. The Hobbit needs a human heart to connect to its audience. McKellen, Armitage and Freeman provide it… Whether or not I personally ‘like’ a film has very little to do with any review I write. The questions to answer are ”Does the film achieve what it set out to do?’ and ‘Will it work for the audience it was made for?’ The Hobbit answers these two questions with a resounding ‘Yep’.” (Four out of Five Stars)
Garfemaio, TheOneRing.net: “I am not here to review the technology, this is just going to be a short and sweet commentary on the movie. Martin Freeman is a joy to watch inhabit the role of Bilbo Baggins: you feel everything he feels, and that is all those emotions you read about in the book….There are whole chunks of dialogue lifted directly from the book, you will recognize it throughout the film… Gandalf is Gandalf,, the slightly grumpy, sometimes playful Gandalf the Grey we met 11 years ago is back….And Richard Armitage as Thorin and Ken Stott as Balin, in particular, shine in their respective roles. You will feel you are in the presence of a King without a Throne. But the kudos really have to go to Andy Serkis as Gollum and Martin’s Bilbo…The Riddles in the Dark will have you on the edge of you seat…To be honest, yes there are other bits that are a bit confusing and may feel misplaced, but I will want to watch it a second time before I pass final judgement on this film. I loved the ending, it is rather awesome.”
Calisuri, TheOneRing.net: ‘The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey‘ is a fulfilling and entertaining adventure that is sure to please most Middle-earth enthusiasts. Filled with direct book-to-screen moments and some unique new additions, the film stands as a strong first installment of a three-year adventure. If you think of it as a fine art masterpiece in a beautiful museum, it can sit proudly next to its LOTR siblings. Well, sorta. You see, someone chose an overly busy frame with bright colors and fancy patterns that distracts from the essential content. Luckily, in your experience, you can easily swap out the frame… Some who are not familiar with the childish nature of The Hobbit might find this a bit odd when they compare the drama to the LOTR films… The acting by the core cast was astoundingly good. Martin Freeman IS Bilbo Baggins and as expected delivers an amazing performance with true emotion, humor and feeling. Ian McKellen is a less serious version of his LOTR-self and in many ways a lot more likable. His sense of humor comes across more in the performance and it is very endearing. Richard Armitage delivers a dead-on performance of Thorin. For those of us who know what the future holds for Thorin, I can clearly state the casting was perfect. Andy Serkis returns as Gollum and provides yet another amazing performance…The dwarves were always a bit of a concern for me because I thought we’d be spending a lot of time getting to know each and dealing with lot of childish humor. This is not the case. They do all get introductions and each has their own distinct and unique contribution to the film. There is of course some ‘potty’ humor, but nothing that is overdone or inconsistent. Ken Stott as Balin delivers a stand-out performance… There is one BIG negative from my viewing of The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey. It has nothing to do with the plot, acting, score or any other aspect of the actual content of the film. It has to do with wrapping this masterpiece in the inappropriate frame of HFR 3D. It was quite simply unnecessary to saddle this film with this presentational wizardry… I was constantly taken out of the story and performance because my brain was distracted by the ‘bells and whistles’ on screen. I was jolted out of the content of the film and noticed the tech behind it. That is unfortunate… So here’s my slightly controversial suggestion: Watch this film first in good ole fashioned 24fps. Then, for your second viewing, go and see it in HFR. This way your initial experience won’t be compromised by the tech and second-time-round you may actually be able to enjoy the high frame rate as well!”
MrCere, TheOneRing.net: “Instead of playing safe and comfortable in lower-risk financial zones, Jackson has pushed the boundaries with 3D, with 48 frames of film per second -– or the digital equivalent — flashing past viewers’ eyes instead of the traditional 24fps. It is definitely different…Here, Jackson has gone to such lengths to make the fantastic look real that for many the film will look unreal -– but only if viewers choose to see it in the director’s preferred way. Of the approximately 24,000 theaters that will display The Hobbit: AUJ, around 1,000 will have the technology to display it as it was shot — HFR 3D. But, for those 1,000, hang onto your arm rests, cinema has just leapt forward… Bilbo Baggins (masterfully portrayed by Martin Freeman in a performance that will be lost amidst the eye-popping action sequences), as many readers will know, relishes his comfortable life in the cinematically familiar Bag End. He is interrupted by a gaggle of dwarves and a meddlesome wizard who for reasons he cannot himself explain, thinks Bilbo needs to travel with the dwarves… People who haven’t been paying attention to the promotional lead-in campaign may be surprised to find that joining Freeman and Ian McKellen’s Gandalf as lead characters in the film is Richard Armitage as Thorin Oakenshield. It’s a role likely to launch Armitage, blessed with an already-fervent fanbase, masculine good looks, and ample ability, into the stratosphere. The character is deeply scarred and tragic. Thorin gives the children’s tale a Shakespearean disaster angle and the film makes the most of it in in ways that may not surprise viewers but will nevertheless delight them…. Andy Serkis returns to work his performance-capture magic as Gollum… Bilbo, content to play it safe in a movie that most definitely isn’t, is joined by all these dwarves who despite excellent design and characterization, just don’t have enough room in the movie. Considering Jackson’s Middle-earth legacy, many viewers will immediately begin pondering extended editions and hope for more from these characters… Then -– especially if they see it in 48 fps -– they’ll want to schedule another viewing. This writer’s initial reaction to the film was wanting to see it again immediately. Fans, and those who care about film as an art form (and perhaps as a science) will want to view The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey in both its incredibly clear new format and as a traditional film…. It goes without saying that not everybody will like everything. Setting aside technology for a moment, sections of the film that delight some will frustrate others… But putting aside the quibbles, Jackson has delivered a tightly paced action flick that is rollicking fun. He has captured again the magic of Tolkien’s world with his own stylistic, cinematic stamp… Cate Blanchett casts her graceful spell along with the most welcome Christopher Lee and the slightly less stressed Elrond from Hugo Weaving, iconic in his own right. The dead-on casting with exemplary performances from the leads as well as those in small roles make the fantasy feel real more than any technician can -– and the technicians on this film are world-class here.”
(The Australian has posted a slightly more ambivalent review as well… Though apart from the VFX questions the thing this guy whines about were things I enjoyed in LOTR… yes, including all the “false endings” to ROTK. They’re in the book. Deal.) 😉
So, pretty much everyone is ambivalent about the 48 FPS presentation. I am going to try to see the film in both versions, probably in 2D at some point as well. I remember the first time I saw an HDTV presentation, I was initially very distracted by the lifelike realism, so much so that, like one of these critics, was initially less immersed in storytelling and characterization and focusing on set decoration, wig design and some unfortunate actor’s prominent nosehairs. 😉 But… eventually the acting and writing were enough to get me back on track. 3D films (especially CG-heavy ones) have been more of a problem for me; only two or three I’ve seen have been fully satisfying, and in most cases the technology more distracting than immersive. It’s never terribly realistic. I did prefer Cloud Atlas in IMAX slightly over the traditional screen format. So… we’ll have to see. Either way they’re guaranteeing themselves a lot of repeat business. 😉 You can also read a selection of mostly enthusiastic tweets from the Wellington premiere at Screen Crush.
Pics and footage from the November 28 Wellington premiere continue to appear. One News featured a compilation of red carpet interviews, including comments from Hugo that I hadn’t seen anywhere else, and they also had a clip of the Maori greeting ceremony that preceded the press conference (Note: clip is silent.). The Australian/SkyNews also had red carpet highlights featuring Hugo. None of these can be directly embedded; my apologies. (Really, the sites of origin should be more fan-friendly…). One News also has a video review (mostly positive). There’s a lavish, in-depth study of the possible book-to-film adaptation process at TORN (which should be read by only those who’ve already read the book, as there are spoilers), A Peter Jackson interview about character design, including Smaug’s, at the LA Times (they have a total of three video interviews with PJ, filmed at this year’s Comic Con), an interview with Hugo’s best red carpet buddy James Nesbitt at the Belfast Times,
ScreenSlam has video interviews with most of the cast, including Hugo; ideally this will embed. [Update: no, it won’t. Curse you, LJ! Click the link…]
Several fans with better video software than mine did record the full three-hour plus premiere; many have tried to post footage online in segments but Warner Bros keeps blocking their efforts… while continuing to withhold all but the stingiest glimpses of the event. Hugo’s full interview can be seen 50.30 into this clip if it remains up. (There are links to Parts 2 and 3 there too.) I just checked to ensure it still plays as of posting time. There’s a brief excerpt (similar to the one posted at Trailer Addict) here.
There are plenty of additional Hugo Weaving photos from Wellington, including the first pic I’ve seen of Hugo after the premiere:
Mark Tantrum, Getty Images (larger version)
Hagen Hopkins, Getty Images (larger version)
David Panusch/Snapstar Live (including next 5 photos)
Andy Serkis, Cate Blanchett, Hugo Weaving, Elijah Wood
Yes, more Weaving and Nesbitt photos! 😉
3 News NZ
Wall Street Journal/GTRES (larger version)
The Heirs of Durin/ThorinOakenshield.net (They have a TON of great material, especially if you’re a Richard Armitage fan.)
Press conference: Dean O’Gorman, Hugo Weaving, Sylvester McCoy photo: Sven Stadtmann/Corbis
Both photo: Splash News/Corbis
800px via Flickr (plus next 2 photos)
Neuköln via Flickr (plus next 2 photos)
Joel Hawes via Flickr (plus next photo)
prwelly via Flickr (plus following photo)
Hugo is briefly seen (but not interviewed) in red carpet videos from TheOneRing.net and Fraser Coast Chronicle…Apparently, judging from some comments and complaints, Hugo and Cate Blanchett didn’t do as many interviews as some actors and didn’t sign as many autographs, though in a crowd of thousands, only a handful of people will be fully satisfied in this respect. In their defense, Cate Blanchett has said she only did eight days of filming on the new trilogy, and Hugo was only on set a couple of weeks… they probably have about ten minutes of screentime apiece. It would be unfair for them to get more media attention than Martin Freeman, Ian McKellen and Richard Armitage, who carry the film and were on set for over a year (though Freeman and McKellen each took breaks for other projects.) Andy Serkis and Elijah Wood only have cameos in The Hobbit and have been front and center in the promotion, but they had iconic lead roles in Lord of the Rings while Weaving and Blanchett had secondary roles as they do here. (Serkis was also second-unit director on The Hobbit.) In the Japan premiere live stream, I noticed that actors were herded from place to place along the red carpet by various body guards and “handlers”, not simply doing as they pleased. The same probably happened in Wellington. I don’t think anyone was deliberately snubbed. Elijah Wood seemed distraught that he wasn’t allowed to linger and just sign autographs all night. All the actors will probably have some sort of carpal tunnel injury when all is said and done, especially those like Hugo who’ve just come off previous promotional junkets.
In non-Hobbit news, Cloud Atlas (well, The Hobbit too) is eligible for the Best Cast Award at next year’s Screen Actor’s Guild Awards, according to The Hollywood Reporter, Andrew Upton (STC artistic director) composed a lengthy, eloquent essay about the future of theatre which can be read at The Australian, and Ben Brantley again lavishes praise on STC’s adaptation of Uncle Vanya in a New York Times analysis of recent Chekhov productions.
You can read the latest positive Cloud Atlas reviews at Fictional Liar, Colorado Celt, Jacqueline Moleski, Felice’s Log, and Josh Rosenfield. And a making-of extra long available only on the Babe Special Edition DVD has now been posted to YouTube. Hugo isn’t seen, but you can hear him voicing a certain sonorous Border Collie.