THE HOBBIT: THE BATTLE OF THE FIVE ARMIES Comic-Con Panel Recap: Peter Jackson and Cast Look Back on the Entire Tolkein Saga and Tease Conclusion

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There’s no mistaking the fact that director Peter Jackson’s The Lord of the Rings trilogy adaptation is a true classic and will be a touchtone for many generations to come.  He’s recently returned to complete the J.R.R. Tolkein saga with a three-film adaptation of The Hobbit, and while the response from some fans hasn’t been as enthusiastic, the passion for the series remains.  At the Comic-Con panel for the final Hobbit installment, The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies, Jackson took the stage earlier today along with screenwriter Philipa Boyens and cast members Benedict Cumberbatch, Cate Blanchett, Orlando Bloom, Evangeline Lilly, Lee Pace, Luke Evans, Andy Serkis, Elijah Wood, and Graham McTavish.

Since this is (probably) the last time that Jackson will be presenting a Tolkein adaptation at Comic-Con, this panel was a mix between a look back at the entire LOTR saga and a tease of the new film, complete with the premiere of the first trailer and an excellent appearance by Stephen Colbert as the moderator.  Read my full The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies Comic-Con panel recap after the jump.

the-hobbit-the-battle-of-the-five-armies-posterThe panel began with a trailer-style celebration of Peter Jackson’s entire Middle-earth saga, with footage from both Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit films mixed in.  Stephen Colbert took the stage in his costume from his Desolation of Smaug to wild applause from the audience and the obligatory “Stephen! Stephen!” chant.  He began the panel by reading a speech he prepared that recounted his immense Tolkien fandom and initial skepticism at hearing that his favorite novels were being adapted into a feature film.  When he heard that Jackson would be directing, he thought “there’s no room for hysterical, murderous teenage girls in Middle-earth.”  However, he eventually found hope “that finally folks wouldn’t roll their eyes when I spoke of Middle-earth.”

Colbert was the perfect person to moderate this panel, as he brought a personal (and highly knowledgeable) touch to the proceedings.  At one point, when speaking about his Tolkein trivia contest with screenwriter Boyens, Colbert began reciting an obscure poem that made the crowd erupt in applause.

Footage

The first bit of footage that we saw was a collection of outtakes from the entire Tolkein saga that had never been seen before, and it was incredible.  Ian McKellen was far and away the standout, churning out gold with wonderful frequency.  From trading quips with Jackson when he was having trouble with lines to doing a genuine strip tease in full Gandalf costume, I really hope this shows up on a Blu-ray somewhere down the line.  Another highlight was another scene from the original trilogy in which Viggo Mortensen enters a tent to find Hugo Weaving wearing his Agent Smith glasses from The Matrix and addressing him in character.

We were also privy to the first teaser trailer for the film.  As a massive fan of the original trilogy who’s found the first two Hobbit entries to be disappointing, I’ll say the teaser for Battle of the Five Armies was actually pretty fantastic.  The trailer definitely draws heavily on the fact that Armies will bridge directly to Fellowship of the Ring, and it’s even set to a rendition of “The Steward of Gondor (Mist and Shadow)” performed by Billy Boyd, which sounded like it might be a new recording.  When the lights came up, even Jackson was a bit teary.

Visually the tone of the trailer is definitely darker than the previous films, and while I’m still not happy with the entirely CG-characters (aside from the gorgeously designed Smaug), I’ll say that the stakes certainly have been raised and I’m hoping the Hobbit series can end on a high note.

Panel Highlights

  • the-hobbit-the-battle-of-the-five-armiesJackson said he’s not done with the movie yet, adding he’s editing but “there’s a lot more than just editing”, as they’re still doing motion-capture and animation for the big action sequences.
  • This was the first time that some of the actors had met. Cumberbatch said he and Blanchett had a scene together but never met during production.
  • Colbert asked Jackson if he’d thought about the fact that he’s been thinking about this series for 20 years, “a full generation”, and the look on Jackson’s face was a mixture of exhaustion and slight embarrassment.
  • When Colbert pointed out that Jackson now owes three more films, since he turned one book (The Hobbit) into a trilogy, Jackson replied, “I’m sure if Warners could find a way to do that, they would certainly do it.”
  • Colbert straight up asked Wood, “Why don’t you age?”
  • Regarding the tone of the films, Jackson reiterated that it’s a progression towards the more dramatic tone of the Lord of the Rings trilogy, adding that there’s a lot of death and tragedy in Battle of the Five Armies.
  • Boyens revealed that Jackson had some funny ideas of how to include Tom Bombadil in the trilogy.
  • The first wish list of casting that Boyens and Jackson prepared had Cate Blanchett as the top choice to play Galadriel.
  • Cumberbatch plays both Sauron and Smaug in the film, saying the difference between the two characters is that one is actually killable.
  • Cumberbatch said that it’s much harder for the other actors to act opposite tennis balls than it is for him to play the motion-capture characters, saying he was just “throwing myself around a carpeted floor like a lunatic.”
  • Blanchett said she played Bard in a high school production of The Hobbit, but revealed that we’ll get to see Galadriel “losing it” in Five Armies.  Blanchett added, “I lose my shit.”
  • the-hobbit-the-battle-of-the-five-armies-luke-evans-orlando-bloomColbert asked Boyens if she has recovered from him crushing her in their Tolkein trivia contest.  Once the contest was over, Colbert’s wife came up to Boyens and said, “I think this is the greatest night of his life.”
  • Evans revealed that he and Aidan Turner jumped out of a helicopter at one point on a break from production and spent some time on a glacier.  He said he could reveal this now because he’s out of contract.
  • Bloom said that he, Wood, and Dominic Monaghan were talking the other day about applying for residency in New Zealand.
  • Wood said that he read The Hobbit as a child and called it a “big, big book” for him, but he’s yet to revisit the Lord of the Rings novels.
  • Lilly said she loved reading Lord of the Rings so much that when she got to the point where 20 pages were left in Return of the King, she shut her book because she didn’t want it to end. She said she still hasn’t read them.
  • Serkis said that when he met Peter and Fran in London in the 90s, they didn’t really know exactly how Gollum would be portrayed visually but they wanted an actor on set to interact with everyone else.  “It changed my life,” he added.
  • On Serkis’ birthday he was on the set of pick-up shooting for Return of the King, and when Jackson asked him to lead King Kong he realized he’d never be going back to the life he had before.  “It’s anti-typecasting in a way—I can play anything!”
  • Colbert pointed out that every battle scene nowadays has an echo of Jackson’s work in the initial trilogy, and Jackson replied that he was grateful for the fact that he likely influenced numerous future filmmakers.
  • Blachett said it was a great joy to work extensively with McKellen in The Hobbit, since she barely got to share scenes with the actor in Lord of the Rings.
  • Jackson said they didn’t really use any of the original costumes in The Hobbit because they treasure them now and hope to display them in a museum.  However, Blanchett and Bloom’s wigs were the same.
  • Jackson has a warehouse full of old miniatures in a “secret location”, which Colbert described enthusiastically.  Jackson added they’ll probably use some of them for the museum as well.

Audience Q&A Highlights

  • the-lord-of-the-rings-the-fellowship-of-the-ringMight we see an even longer cut of the Lord of the Rings trilogy down the road?  Jackson said there are still a few scenes that were shot that haven’t been seen, but not many.  He cited a scene between younger versions of Arwen and Aragon, when they met.  Jackson said they “might” try and put them back in, but the problem is all of the scenes are somewhere on seven million feet of film in a WB storage unit.  He added, “If there’s enough interest from people, maybe they will [let us dig into them].”
  • On the frustration of working with CG characters, Serkis said, “Although there’s technology involved in making characters like Gollum, really it’s exactly the same.  All you need is the eyes of another actor to connect to.”  Pace added that if everyone’s imagination on set is alive, “it really gets cool.”
  • Blanchett said out of any director she’s ever worked with, Peter and Fran were the most descriptive when it came to explaining what would fill the green screen that surrounded the sets.
  • On the prequel-esque nature of The Battle of Five Armies, Boyens reiterated that they pulled from Toklein’s appendices to make the transition more effective.
  • Jackson also announced a Hobbit fan-felowship contest in which 75 people plus a partner will be flown to New Zealand to screen a cut of Five Armies and tour some of Jackson’s production facilities.  Information is available on the official Facebook page.

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  • bigfrog

    I can’t wait until we can put all this Prequel nonsense behind us and the series can be “rebooted” by a more mature director.

    • Ted

      more mature? LOTR was made perfectly, and even these Hobbit films, although kinda stretched-out are good (if not great). The Hobbit book is a childrens book so you dont even need a mature take on it.

      • fishnets

        Hobbit movies are awful and children’s book excuse makes no sense when your “children’s” movie has decapitations galore.

  • Steven

    Show us the trailer already.

  • Agent777

    A lot of people will change their tunes about this trilogy when the third one comes out.

    • fishnets

      Sure, cause 1 movie shot at the same time with 2 turkey sandwiches, where nothing ever happened plotwise, will suddenly be a masterpiece that redeems 2 previous duds. :rollseyes: This trilogy won’t be remembered by March 2015. Total cash grab with no value.

      Unless you meant even most jaded fanboys, who are currently in denial phase, will have to admit this is The Prequels all over again but without cultural relevance that The Prequels had. with that I agree 100%.

  • Agent777

    A lot of people will change their tunes about this trilogy when the third one comes out.

  • Diego Fernando Salazar Proaño

    I really think I’m the only one who loved the first two films (even though the first one was a bit too long, the second flew by) and found the CG characters (like Azog, who I really thought was a guy in make-up) very well done and not distracting at all. Also, Tauriel was a great addition to the cast and the fleshing out of some of the dwarves was cool, even if I got a bit disappointed for the fact that Bombur has no speaking lines. Can’t wait for the next and last movie.

    • Steven

      I love them too. Its such a bummer to always hear people crapping on them.

      • fishnets

        Cause everyone has the right to express their opinion. And maybe if PJ made good movies less people would crap on them.

      • Middle-Earth

        Don’t forget many fans do like the hobbit movies, so you can’t please everyone

      • Middle-Earth

        Don’t forget many fans do like the hobbit movies, so you can’t please everyone

      • fishnets

        They do but fandom dropped CONSIDERABLY from LOTR and even 3D and inflation can’t hide it. On top of bad fanficion of a script, unnecessary stretching (DOS was really about nothing) and annoying video game-like action (that’s about as thrilling as watching someone play video game), cast has ZERO chemistry and is really flaccid. They have no spark on and off the screen. One of LOTR attractions was the cast chemistry and that’s certainly big part of Avengers appeal.

      • Diego Fernando Salazar Proaño

        Maybe because people were expecting a new LOTR but forgot that the tone between that and Hobbit is quite light compared to Frodo’s journey. I also disagree in that there are no chemistry between the characters and that the action, while still looking a bit over the top, they are fun to watch and that’s the point after all.

      • fishnets

        Sorry but no. Hobbit book has different tone yet Jackson did everything to remind us that THIS IS LOTR PREQUEL! yes, capital letter screaming at the audience with bad callbacks (The healing was abominable re-creation of Arwen and Frodo in FOTR, then we got Prancing Pony throw-back, etc), made-up stuff that apes LOTR plot points (Tauriel and Kili are supposed to be this movie’s Arwen and Aragorn, lol,), return of Legolas who’s basically just shadowing Tauriel, and adding Sauron-related matter. In short, instead of being its own thing, Hobbit is so busy setting up LOTR it won’t feel finished because its set-ups pay off in that other trilogy. So no wonder movies feel like nothing happens plot-wise although tons of noise, and relentless action that doesn’t drive the plot forward are constantly assaulting the screen. So since PJ wanted Hobbit to be LOTR-fied to the max, no wonder comparisons are unfavorable to Hobbit. That short, to the point, light-hearted book was not meant to be stretched into 3 movies each with epic running time. Not enough material to support it and what PJ&Boyens made up to pad the running time is really bad fanfiction. So don’t blame the audience for not falling in love with this crap.

        Also, going from most acclaimed trilogy of all times to “well, it’s fun to watch and that’s the point” only emphasizes the nose-dive in quality. The latter is an excuse about every “check the brain at the door” franchise and movie such as Transformers. Yeah, anyway you slice it, this is a disappointment.

      • Diego Fernando Salazar Proaño

        First: my “it’s fun to watch and that’s the point” was refered only to the battle scenes.
        Second: you are reading too much into things you shouldn’t and not reading at all where you should. If you think Tauriel and Kili being the Arwen and Aragorn of The Hobbit, it makes me think you haven’t read the book, at least recently. Point enforced by the fact that Gandalf and Thorin indeed met before the events of the book/movie (can’t recall if it was in the Prancing Pony though). Legolas is the son of the King of the Black Forest (who does appear on the book) so it makes sense he appears here instead of some new liutenant or something like that. Tauriel’s purpose, beyond amping up the female presence on the story serves to flesh out the elves who are basically one-dimensional in the book. Also, it doesn’t take to be a genius to figure, after reading the five books (3 LOTR, Hobbit and The Silmarillion), that the Necromancer Gandalf and the White Council are after is no other than Sauron himself.
        Finally, if you think that nothing happened plotwise in DOS then you definitely haven’t read the book… nor other “children” fantasy book actually. The plot is always very basic being the journey’s especific moments that make the bulk of the novel.

      • fishnets

        Nothing happened plotwise in DOS because that crap shouldn’t have been second movie in a trilogy. Hobbit shouldn’t have been a trilogy, period. Even with additions it didn’t have enough material. It’s a cash grab, no way around it.

        Also, Legolas make sense to be there but what they wrote for the character is completely disposable. Part of a lame love triangle. Shadows Tauriel who pretty much does what he’s supposed to do – be compassionate to non-Elves and seeking to help them. His presence is redundant because he doesn’t move the story forward but bloats the screen time. It shouldn’t have been that way but that’s what lame script has for him so…

        As for Kili and Tauriel,. they are mixed race couple like Aragorn and Arwen except that they have more in common with Twilight since such union’s unthinkable in Tolkienverse. Dwarves and Elves don’t have common progenitor (Men and Elves do) so such union would be like a human and a goat. Abomination. Tolkien never thought of that possibility but Boyens obviously read too much into Gimli’s admiration for Galadriel’s beauty and decided to create a bad fanfiction with actual romance.

        Anyway you slice it, this trilogy is a huge nose-dive from LOTR, The Prequels redux but without cultural relevance that The prequels still have.

      • Diego Fernando Salazar Proaño

        You can’t say Legolas is disposable if you have no idea how his character will grow at the end! And that “lame” love triangle may actually end up establishing why he despises dwarves so much when he appeared in FOTR. Kili and Tauriel more in common with Twilight? Are you crazy? Also, Elves and Men do not have a common ancestor. They were both created separately by Eru Iluvatar, the highest being on the Tolkienverse and Dwarves were created by one of his “minions”. They, in fact, have nothing in common with each other and a half elf/half human (like Earendil was) is as much an abomination as could be a elf/dwarf offspring. Also, are you sure it was Boyens who put that in? I think I missed that.

        I wont say that The Hobbit is better or worse than LOTR because they are much different stories, it just happened to be one before the other. Peter Jackson is actually doing a great job bridging the tone between both stories.

        It seems, though, that you’ll hate this no matter what I say, and that is cool. You are entitled to your opinion and, as such, you should not go to see the movie in order to not be disappointed. Cheers.

      • fishnets

        You are pulling the “one movie will redeem 2 bad movies” excuse known as ROTS excuse. Legolas should’ve been well developed from the get go and if losing a love interest to a dwarf is his reason for despising dwarves than they shouldn’t have bothered. You like these movies, fine. I like many movies that are awfully written but I admit they are awfully written. Hobbit is awfully written. It’s a bad fanfic. You can find that enjoyable and that’s all OK. Just stop trying to pretend that the writing is good when it clearly isn’t.

        Also, Elf and Men pairings were allowed in Tolkienverse in special cases. Yes, fathers of the bride protested a bit but it was all settled later. Dwarves and Elves, Dwarves and Men absolutely “bleep” not. Unthinkable.

      • milo

        While the Hobbit so far hasn’t been nearly as good as the original LOTR movies, it’s quite a stretch to compare it to Phantom Menace or Clones. The Hobbit movies are still worth watching and decent enough that a great third one could salvage the trilogy. The SW prequels were just flat out bad.

      • milo

        While the Hobbit so far hasn’t been nearly as good as the original LOTR movies, it’s quite a stretch to compare it to Phantom Menace or Clones. The Hobbit movies are still worth watching and decent enough that a great third one could salvage the trilogy. The SW prequels were just flat out bad.

      • Diego Fernando Salazar Proaño

        Hard to not say that given that in fact, is one long movie split in three. But, whatever you say man.

      • fishnets

        It’s actually one short story stretched in 3 overlong movies. :)

      • fishnets

        You are pulling the “one movie will redeem 2 bad movies” excuse known as ROTS excuse. Legolas should’ve been well developed from the get go and if losing a love interest to a dwarf is his reason for despising dwarves than they shouldn’t have bothered. You like these movies, fine. I like many movies that are awfully written but I admit they are awfully written. Hobbit is awfully written. It’s a bad fanfic. You can find that enjoyable and that’s all OK. Just stop trying to pretend that the writing is good when it clearly isn’t.

        Also, Elf and Men pairings were allowed in Tolkienverse in special cases. Yes, fathers of the bride protested a bit but it was all settled later. Dwarves and Elves, Dwarves and Men absolutely “bleep” not. Unthinkable.

      • Diego Fernando Salazar Proaño

        You can’t say Legolas is disposable if you have no idea how his character will grow at the end! And that “lame” love triangle may actually end up establishing why he despises dwarves so much when he appeared in FOTR. Kili and Tauriel more in common with Twilight? Are you crazy? Also, Elves and Men do not have a common ancestor. They were both created separately by Eru Iluvatar, the highest being on the Tolkienverse and Dwarves were created by one of his “minions”. They, in fact, have nothing in common with each other and a half elf/half human (like Earendil was) is as much an abomination as could be a elf/dwarf offspring. Also, are you sure it was Boyens who put that in? I think I missed that.

        I wont say that The Hobbit is better or worse than LOTR because they are much different stories, it just happened to be one before the other. Peter Jackson is actually doing a great job bridging the tone between both stories.

        It seems, though, that you’ll hate this no matter what I say, and that is cool. You are entitled to your opinion and, as such, you should not go to see the movie in order to not be disappointed. Cheers.

      • fishnets

        They do but fandom dropped CONSIDERABLY from LOTR and even 3D and inflation can’t hide it. On top of bad fanficion of a script, unnecessary stretching (DOS was really about nothing) and annoying video game-like action (that’s about as thrilling as watching someone play video game), cast has ZERO chemistry and is really flaccid. They have no spark on and off the screen. One of LOTR attractions was the cast chemistry and that’s certainly big part of Avengers appeal.

    • Steven

      I love them too. Its such a bummer to always hear people crapping on them.

  • Diego Fernando Salazar Proaño

    I really think I’m the only one who loved the first two films (even though the first one was a bit too long, the second flew by) and found the CG characters (like Azog, who I really thought was a guy in make-up) very well done and not distracting at all. Also, Tauriel was a great addition to the cast and the fleshing out of some of the dwarves was cool, even if I got a bit disappointed for the fact that Bombur has no speaking lines. Can’t wait for the next and last movie.

  • Marissa Evans

    Aw, I was kind of hoping to see a link to a trailer when I clicked on this. Ah well.
    Out of curiosity, why is the dragon still alive? I would think they would have ended the second movie with Bard killing it off. It’s a pretty epic scene in the book. Is it just going to be at the beginning of this third film?

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