The first trailer for “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey” debuted yesterday evening, prompting quite a bit of excitement around Middle-earth and, well… regular Earth, too. Director Peter Jackson’s impending return to J.R.R. Tolkien’s epic saga has everyone buzzing about the “Lord of the Rings” prequel today, and for good reason — the new trailer offered quite a bit of fan-friendly footage.
As one of the many devotees of all things Tolkien, I know I wasn’t alone in feeling a sudden urge to cheer during last night’s trailer premiere. Here are the five moments that contributed the most to my “Hobbit” hysteria.
1. Introductions Are Made
For many Tolkien fans, 1977’s animated adaptation of “The Hobbit” offered one of the first — and for quite a while, only — visual representations of Thorin and his band of dwarves that accompanied Bilbo on his great adventure. When Jackson finally released the first photos of his version of the dwarves, fans like myself couldn’t help imagining the traits of the dwarves we knew from the story mapped to these new, three-dimensional versions of Balin, Dwalin, fili, Kili, and the rest of the dwarves.
When each of the dwarves are introduced in the trailer, we not only get our first look at them in action, but we also get our first sense of how each dwarf’s personality will play into the adventure. Sure, it’s a lot to read into a short moment in the trailer, but for anyone who’s read and re-read their copy of The Hobbit, each dwarf is like an old friend.
2. Chip the Glasses, Crack the Plates…
Tolkien filled his original take on The Hobbit with excerpts from the songs sung by his characters. Sometimes the songs were celebratory, sometimes they told a story, and sometimes they were simply a bit of exposition intended to provide context and mood for what was to come. When Thorin and his company of dwarves utter the first few lines of “Misty Mountains Cold,” it became clear in an instant that Jackson not only realized the importance of these interludes, but has made every effort to preserve them in this new take on the story.
For those who haven’t seen the aforementioned animated adaptation of “The Hobbit,” take a moment to listen to the version of “Misty Mountains Cold” used in that 1977 film. Like the song heard in the trailer, it’s a haunting moment that conveys how much is at stake in their quest.
3. Sting, Revealed
As Tolkien fans are well aware, Frodo wasn’t the first to wield the magical sword called “Sting.” Not only was Bilbo the first to discover it, but he also gave it the name that made it one of Middle-earth’s most feared weapons. While I won’t spoil the circumstances that led to it receiving that name, I will admit that the brief scene in the trailer when Bilbo looks at it for the first time, well… it gave me a little shiver.
If you thought Sting saw a lot of action in “Lord of the Rings,” wait until you see what’s in store for it in “The Hobbit.”
Scenes of the Legolas, Aragorn, and the rest of Tolkien’s fellowship battling foes much bigger than them were commonplace in “The Lord of the Rings,” but when your main characters are a diminutive Hobbit and a band of dwarves, every battle takes on epic proportions. Around the 1:59 mark in the trailer, there’s a brief scene that appears to be the moment when the dwarves tussle with a group of trolls in the woods.
As anyone who’s read The Hobbit can attest, this is one of the group’s first big battles with enemies they encounter along their journey, and I can’t wait to see how Jackson brings moments like this to the screen. Sure, it was cool seeing Legolas and Aragorn wreck all manner of beast in “Lord of the Rings,” but it was the fellowship’s dwarf, Gimli, that I was watching in every scene.
5. Gollum and The One Ring
The linchpin of the entire “Lord of the Rings” saga is a simple, golden ring — and “The Hobbit” trailer offers our first glimpse of the One Ring as Bilbo first encounters it. With the success of the “Lord of the Rings” films, many fans will have encountered Tolkien’s tales in reverse order, and the subtle nods to Bilbo’s fate that he included in The Hobbit will likely mean that much more to audiences for Jackson’s prequel film.
The return of Andy Serkis as Gollum is also a welcome moment in the trailer, and serves as a great reminder of why he’s one of the best there is at what he does — and why he should never be overlooked as a major component of the films’ heart and soul.