SAN DIEGO — The wild ride that was the Warner Bros. panel at San Diego Comic-Con had to come to an end eventually, but it closed with a visit back to one of the most beloved settings among Comic-Con attendees: Middle-earth.
Peter Jackson and the cast of “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey” took to Hall H to present a preview of their two-part fantasy epic. Despite the strong acts from “Pacific Rim,” “Godzilla,” and “Man of Steel,” “The Hobbit” really wowed the audience and made us eager to return to Middle-earth.
Back in Middle-earth
The presentation began with Jackson screening an advanced look at his next production diary, but footage from the actual films followed soon after. The reel contained footage from both “An Unexpected Journey” and 2013’s “There and Back Again.” Several people in attendance mentioned that the footage was similar to the preview screened at CinemaCon earlier this year, but the Comic-Con presentation was in 24 frames per second and 2-D. The reel even included a lengthy look at the famous “Riddles in the Dark” sequence, where Bilbo meets Gollum for the first time.
Perhaps the aspect of the film that left the panel with the most sterling reviews, Freeman won over fans with his portrayal of the titular hobbit. Some in attendance complimented his comedic chops and his ability to bring humor to Bilbo effortlessly.
The Comic-Con footage also offered glimpses of characters that until now had remained mysteries. Both Tauriel, a new elf played by Evangeline Lilly, and Radagast, a wizard who will go on a journey with Gandalf, showed up in the sizzle reel. Tauriel never appeared in any of Tolkien’s books, but she made an impression during the panel, wielding two swords and dispatching several bad guys.
Gollum Is Back
One daring fan asked Andy Serkis to do the Gollum voice, and he got an incredibly appropriate response. “For f—‘s sake, do I have to do it?” he asked in the Gollum voice.
Silmarillion: Not Gonna Happen
Tolkien’s most mythology-heavy book, “The Silmarillion,” has been in the hopes and dreams of hard-core fans wishing for a film adaptation. Jackson said that such a movie will probably never happen, because according to him, the Tolkien estate, which controls the rights, doesn’t like his movies very much.
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