The road to produce The Hobbit as a major motion picture has been more perilous than the actual story of The Hobbit itself. Rights issues, union issues, director Guillermo del Toro leaving, studio bankruptcy, illness – and that’s only in the last decade of trying to make this film.

But that all will – hopefully –  be well and over with starting March 21st, when shooting on The Hobbit officially begins. To mark the impending start date, the cast of The Hobbit recently held a press conference in Wellington, New Zealand, giving fans their first look at Bilbo and his band of thirteen dwarves.

Of course they’re not in makeup, they’re not in costume, and they’re not digitally enhanced to appear as tiny people; nevertheless, at least we get a glimpse of what the group will look like all together in the same place. If you squint really hard and imagine a Middle Earth-esque mode of dress, it’s almost like you’re looking at a still taken directly from the (future, yet unmade) movie.

Check out the image below:

Head over to Stuff for the full press conference video.

Frankly, the first thing that pops to mind is: Those men are far too fit to be playing bulky, dwarven gentlemen. Of course, I’m sure the makeup and costume people will make the necessary adjustments to each of them, just as they did with John Rhys-Davies in The Lord of the Rings, but at least that man had a head-start in the bulky department.

Speaking about the part of Bilbo Baggins, Martin Freeman had this to say:

“I’m extremely chuffed.”

Which, according to Merriam-Webster, means “quite pleased” and not something crass or obscene, as I originally assumed.

There’s no doubt that the primary cast members – particularly Martin Freeman (The UK Office, Sherlock) – have all been inspired choices. My only question is, will this be the cinematic adaptation of J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit, or will this be the prequel to Peter Jackson’s The Lord of the Rings? Now, I’ll happily watch either film, truth be told, but I’d much prefer to watch the former to the latter.

The Hobbit was a whimsical, sometimes hilarious adventure-fantasy for children. The Lord of the Rings was a darker, sometimes horrifying adventure-fantasy – and so, too, was its film adaptation. The point being, I don’t have any desire to see The Hobbit filmed in the same dark and dire style of its follow-up. Also, I could care less if Elijah Wood, Orlando Bloom, Viggo Mortensen, and Christopher Lee reprise their roles (though I’d be inclined to make an exception for that ancient badass, Lee).

The Hobbit, a two-part 3D film, begins shooting March 21st and is set to hit theaters December 19th, 2012.

Source: Stuff [via Bleeding Cool]