New Zealand director Peter Jackson said they adapted the appendices of Return of the King and had enough material and stayed true to the story.
"So once you start to develop the scenes and plus you wanted to do a little bit more character development, plus the fact that we could also adapt the appendices of Return of the King, which is 100-odd pages of material that sort of takes place around the time of The Hobbit, so we wanted to expand the story of The Hobbit a little bit more, as did Tolkien himself."
It’s Middle-earth 60 years before Frodo, where the story of Bilbo Baggins, played by Martin Freeman of BBC’s The Office fame. Freeman, 41, is joined by veteran British actor by Sir Ian McKellen reprising his role as Wizard Gandalf in this realistic, humorous and breathless cutting-edge format of 48 frames per second.
But some critics claimed Jackson’s aim for making another three-part film was to squeeze money from Toiken fans.
Not a chance McKellen told the press in New York.
“Anyone who thinks Peter Jackson would fall for market forces around him rather than artistic integrity doesn’t know the guy or the body of his work. If we just made one movie, The Hobbit, the fact is that all the fans, the eight-, nine- and 10-year-old boys; they would watch it 1000 times. Now, they’ve got three films they can watch 1000 times.”
Bilbo joins dashing warrior, Thorin Oakenshield (Richard Armitage) and his 13 dwarves to take back the Dwarf Kingdom of Erebor from Smaug, the dragon, sleeping in mounds of gold on Lonely Mountain. Cate Blanchett also returns in the prequel as Galadriel and Gollum (Andy Serkis, also the second-unit director), who changes Bilbo’s life forever.
Bilbo isn’t the only one whose life changed. Elijah Wood, who returns as Frodo, said despite the years that passed, his character contiues to be with him.
“Playing Frodo over the course of four years, ending that chapter—a funny thing happens; the films came out and all the characters get absorbed as Andy was saying [Serkis] into popular culture,” said Wood played Frodo Baggins when he was 18.
“People on the street daily reference me as Froddo, and it’s been that way ever since. It’s like a little shadow,” he laughed.
How does the cast relate or not relate to J.R.R. Toiken’s story?
For Armitage, he got a sense of Toiken’s Catholicism, his drive to forgive enemies and express goodness.
“His [Toiken] nobility [is] expressed by kindness and mercy…it’s almost in all of his characters and I find that inspiring,” Armitage voice softened.
On the other side of the spectrum was McKellen, 73, who found Toiken’s view of the world skewed because of the lack of women and sex in his book. Yet, when it came to understanding the elderly, youth and how a small guy can change the world, J.R.R. was on target McKellen said.
“For somebody who has been through two World Wars…it’s the foot soldiers who measure up to the moment. We all can understand that. That’s the level; we’re all at, really. It’s the little guy that we need and who may be expendable. Who may not come back.”
After Bilbo inks a contract to slay Smaug, he asks Gandalf “Am I going to come back? Can you promise that?”
Gandalf The Grey said, “No”.
“It’s a chilling but heartwarming moment between Gandalf and Bilbo. How many commanders would say that to their soldiers,?" McKellen questioned in his serious tone.
McKellen couldn’t imagine this scenario, but a story like “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey” is something everyone could relate to, regardless of criticisms on filming techniques, motives or cast member views. This is the beginning of another epic tale.
“The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey” opens Dec. 4.