‘Hobbit’ CinemaCon Footage Recap: A Wondrous Return to Middle-earth

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hobbit cinemacon footage Hobbit CinemaCon Footage Recap: A Wondrous Return to Middle earth

With all the talk of summer blockbusters on the horizon, it’s easy to lose sight of the fact that one of the most-anticipated (for many, the most anticipated) films due out in 2012 won’t arrive until this winter. Obviously, we are talking about Gerard Butler’s new rom-com Playing the Field Peter Jackson’s The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey.

Jackson is among the big-name filmmakers in attendance at the currently-ongoing CinemaCon 2012 in Las Vegas. There, the Oscar-winner talked up his decision to shoot both Hobbit movies at double the normal frame rate – and screened some ten minutes of footage from his $500 million budgeted, cutting-edge 3D return venture into J.R.R. Tolkien’s fantastical realm of Middle-earth.

While the early consensus on whether or not The Hobbit actually benefits from being viewed at 48 f.p.s. is somewhat mixed (more on that later), the visuals and scenery glimpsed in the film’s CinemaCon sizzle reel has prompted nothing but rave reviews so far – as evidenced by the following recap, written up by Coming Soon‘s Edward Douglas:

It opened with lots of sweeping shots of the mountains and landscapes of Middle Earth set to Howard Shore’s distinctive score leading into an introduction by the older Bilbo, played by Ian Holm, telling the story of his journey to Frodo, and we see a brief glimpse of Elijah Wood as his “Lord of the Rings” character. This then leads into the opening from the trailer of Gandalf approaching Bilbo to go on a journey with the dwarves.

There’s also a significant scene where Gandalf is presenting “the Immortal Blade” to a council made up of Christopher Lee’s Saruman, Cate Blanchett’s Galadriel, and Hugo Weaving’s Elrond as they discuss the sword’s origins and how Gandalf was able to get it from the crypt of the Witch King where he was buried in a tomb covered with spells preventing it from being opened.

The scenes of the group walking across the green fields and icy mountains of Middle Earth (i.e. New Zealand) were definitely reminiscent of “Fellowship of the Rings” and we even saw a little bit of Gandalf on his steed and a scene where the dwarves first encounter Orlando Bloom’s Legolas.

The highlight though was an extended conversation between Bilbo and Smeagol/Gollum where Bilbo is trying to get directions from the strange creature who seems to be more interested in playing a game of riddles. Andy Serkis’ ability to switch Smeagol’s schizophrenic personalities still seems to be intact, and from what we saw, Martin Freeman seems absolutely perfect as Bilbo and we think audiences will like him as much as they did the Hobbits in the “Lord of the Rings” movies.

For the complete scoop on what was shown during the Hobbit presentation, head on over to Coming Soon.

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As mentioned before, the only issue that Douglas (and other CinemaCon attendees) raised is The Hobbit looks a bit too perfect when viewed at 48 f.p.s. – enough so as to draw attention to the difference between the organic New Zealand landscapes and the complimentary sets, models, and digital effects used to create the landmarks and non-human residents of Middle-earth. It’s similar to the result you get when watching an older movie in the Blu-ray format – where, suddenly, the aesthetic flaws previously masked by the cloudier film stock, are all the more glaringly apparent. It’s also an issue with new HD TV’s which offer a “smooth motion” function – a feature that unnerves some viewers that are not prepared for the loss of that grainy layer that signifies you are watching something artificial.

Bear in mind, the Hobbit footage previewed featured incomplete FX work and editing – not to mention, it’s not all that clear how many theaters will actually screen the movie(s) at 48 f.p.s. – so this shouldn’t be taken as a final verdict on that aspect of the film. As this writer can attest, having seen the Hobbit teaser trailer in IMAX 3D, the visuals are still quite beautiful and full of eye-popping colors, even when viewed at the “boring ol’” regular frame rate.

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey arrives in theaters around the U.S. on December 14th, 2012.


Source: Coming Soon

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  1. This year, I read The Hobbit for the first time over Easter weekend (can’t believe I haven’t read the book earlier before). Needless to say, I loved it. I’ve never actually read any of the LOTR books (which is gonna change really soon ;)), but I’ve loved the movies.

    Moving on, I’m very interested in seeing how this’ll turn out.
    Definitely a must see for me.

    • Your not the only one :)
      The Hobbit has been sitting on my shelf for a while as the next book I’m going to start but I’ve been putting it off. That will change soon because I want to read it before the film.
      I haven’t read TLOTR either. I swore after the movies that I would dive into them but it’s the same story as The Hobbit. I just keep pushing them aside.

      • Shame on both of you!

        You should also research and read from authors from the 60′s to the 90′s. All we get now a days is movie adaptions of books less than 10 years old but there are better and more venerable stories to be had out there.

        • Nah, forget about reading. Just rely on the media to spoon feed you…I mean, entertain you; they will give you everything you need to know, right? :-D

    • Having enjoyed all four books immensely, I will give you only one slight warning: While the LOTR trilogy does expand upon the world described THE HOBBIT, it also deepens the story of what happens to the Ring and Bilbo and Middle Earth. It is, in short, a harder read. I’m sure you already knew this, but some people having read THE HOBBIT find themselves shocked by the heightened intensity and complexity.

      It IS definitely worth the effort to read the trilogy…

      • after reading Girl With the Dragon Tattoo ruined the Fincher movie, i’ve vowed not to read any big books before seeing the big movie. I just care more about how i feel for the movie than i do the book. I’m sick of comparing the two as i’m watching the movie, i can’t consintrate on the acting or directing.

        That said, i am currently in the middle of reading the LOTR trilogy, and look forward to seeing the Hobbit movie and reading that directly after.

        (Harry Potter’s the exception, i read them all twice before seeing the movies)

      • Having read all four books, I have to agree with Archaeon. I made it through The Hobbit in a weekend, but labored through LOTR. I found it to be a true commitment to complete them. Don’t let that deter you from reading them, because they are amazing stories and will make your imagination go nuts.

        • haha, next task will be to complete The Silmarillion. GL with that because I couldn’t even manage to get through it.

          • Finishing the Silmarillion is like climbing Mt Everest. I finished it but it took me about 9 months. By comparison I finished The Hobbit in about 2 days and the LOTR books in about 3 weeks each.

  2. The Hobbit- THE Movie EVENT of 2012 and 2013.
    Some of the mixed reviews are coming from the theater owners who do not want to spend money on new technology for the 48(even though they have the money to do so). Really Nothing New. The Film isnt finished being edited, FX’d, music score, etc. It sort of reminds me of when the first teasers of Fellowship of the Ring came out, had some mixed reviews,didnt look all that groundbreaking. But when opening day came it was a different story. History was made. I believe the same will happen with The Hobbit Dec 14, 2012.

  3. I want to go back and read the LOTR books also, but I’m afraid too. The reason I’m afraid is I read The Hunger Games before watching the movie and it ruined it for me. I spent more time figuring out what the differences where between the movie and the book (which was a lot)instead of enjoying the movie for what it was. So, for those of you that read LOTR did it enhance the movie or kinda lowered it for you?

  4. /hopes beyond hope they will give Thorin a bit of post digital aging and make Kili look more like a freakin’ dwarf.

    • lol wow

  5. I really hope that this will prove that movies can look good at 48fps and they can finally start giving people the option of not being hindered by standards set by outdated technology.

    That said, I really want to see for myself whether the high frame rate can really show all the flaws, because that doesn’t make much sense for low motion scenes since the higher frame rate shouldn’t show through so much on those. Maybe the fact that they shot it in 4k has more to do with that.

    If we wanted to let things like that hold us back though, then we wouldn’t have switched to Blu Ray and HDTVs.

  6. A comment and a question…I believe The Hobbit will be bigger, at least worldwide, than either The Avengers or The Dark Knight Rises. Does anyone know if the extended footage alluded to in the article above is available on the internet? I could not find it…

  7. Keep in mind that Tolkien wrote The Hobbit as a children’s book. In fact, it was the original publisher’s young son who advised his father to publish it. The LOTR trilogy (which Tolkien intended as a single, vast volume) is very much an adult work–with all the complexity of the world that Tolkien lovingly created. It’s no surprise that The Hobbit is an easier read.