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Today it seems as if the internet has been infected with a fairly bad case of ‘Tolkienitis’ as the trailer for the Peter Jackson version of the Hobbit has hit it quite hard and is spreading all over the place. We even have a release date of the 14th of December 2012! Which is annoyingly almost a whole year away…

For those who haven’t seen it yet, here is the trailer:

I have to say that there is a special place in my heart for Tolkien. The Hobbit was the first ‘proper’ fantasy book I bought and read. In fact, I bought it with a gift voucher I got from school for ‘being good at History’ which was annoying because I wanted it for ‘being good at Biology’ but someone else got that. Luckily, I did get the Chemistry prize in a later year so my scientific credentials were confirmed (though I cannot for the life of me remember which book I bought with that…). The only reason I remember getting the Hobbit with the History voucher (because you know, my memory is terrible…) is because I still have the actual book on the shelf behind me, still with the bookplate from the voucher stuck into it.

I also, bizarrely enough, also have a copy of it in German. Despite not being able to read German all that well or ever having been to Germany. You can find some weird things when browsing charity shops in University towns and I have a love of seeing books I have read in English in foreign languages (I also have a copy of Neil Gaiman’s ‘Death: The High Cost of Living’ in French from when I visited Paris a while back).

Anyway, because of my love of the original source and the fact that Peter Jackson has proven himself worthy by doing such a great job with Lord of the Rings, I am quite looking forward to this release. Not only because it will relive a classic story but because, from the buzz I have heard in and around the internet, they are planning to add extra material to the story – padding it out to two films. Some may say this is a bad thing – tampering with a classic, daring to assume something about Tolkien’s great vision! However, I am of the other opinion. While I enjoyed the Hobbit as a child, I remember thinking about the bit where Gandalf buggers off midway through the book.* It seemed to me to be a bit of a cop out, especially when he reappears and talks about ‘fighting the Necromancer’ with his other wizard chums. I was thinking ‘What? WE missed that! I want to see Gandalf and a bunch of other wizards fighting a Necromancer!’. While Bilbo wandering around in Mirkwood and finding the Ring and tricking dragons was interesting, I still felt cheated that we never got to see Gandalf’s encounter with the being we now know was Sauron. Jackson is promising to give us that scene and a lot of extra stuff to boot.

There are other misgivings out there in fanland. News that Orlando Bloom was back to play Legolas had some up in arms. Legolas does not appear in the Hobbit! Was the cry that went up. To be honest, the cry could probably be translated as ‘we don’t like Orlando Bloom!’ because there are actually good reasons for why Legolas could be in The Hobbit. He is, after all, the son of Thranduil, the King of Mirkwood, and there is nothing to say that he is not present among the numerous, nameless elves. Ok, he didn’t *do* anything in the book but I personally have nothing against him being there and I like the idea of riffing around the concept rather than word for word repeating a story from a novel. I’d have more of a problem with John Rhys Davies playing Gloin (which could have happened, his character Gimli in LOTR was the son of Gloin and there’s a chance of a family resemblance) because that is just a tad too cheesy for my liking. Overall, I am actually quite hyped about the cast list because it has some very nice actors in there – including Sherlock’s Benedict Cumberbatch as Smaug and the Necromancer, Being Human’s Aidan Turner as Kili and Doctor Who’s Sylvester McCoy as Radaghast the Brown.

So, suffice it to say I am quite enthused by this trailer and feeling confident that this will be as good a film, if not better, than any of the Lord of the Rings films…

*The roleplayer in me, even then, put this down to the fact that Gandalf was a high level PC and Bilbo and the Dwarves were only low level and the challenges ahead were clearly for a lower level party so Gandalf had to go otherwise he would munchkin the hell out of all the spiders and wood elves and thereby remove all conflict and tension….