The news is all over the 'net today--I got the word from E! Online
The acclaimed British thespian, [Sir Ian McKellen,] who, as the wizard Gandalf the Grey, helped shepherd Frodo Baggins through a perilous journey in Peter Jackson's The Lord of the Rings trilogy, has announced he will reprise his Academy Award-nominated role for the hugely anticipated Hobbit prequels.I can breathe a sigh of relief now. NO-ONE could play Gandalf other than Sir Ian.
Word is, Andy Serkis has also signed up to reprise his role as Gollum.
Now...they just have to make sure and get Sir Ian Holm to once again don his waistcoat and come back as Bilbo Baggins. Like Sir Ian M. and Gandalf, I'm not convinced that any one else could pull off Bilbo.
While I'm glad that Peter Jackson and Fran Walsh will once again be involved, I certainly wish they were directing, rather than simply Executive Producers. I have heard rumors that they have negotiated EXTENSIVE control over script, etc., but until I see it, I won't believe it. It would take a special director to relinquish that kind of control to a producer, I think. Without that control--in fact, without Jackson at the helm--I'm not at all convinced that the Lord of the Rings magic can be repeated.
Now, Guillermo del Toro has agreed to direct. I haven't seen enough of his work to know whether or not I approve. I enjoyed Hellboy, but that's the only thing I've seen. I don't like subtitles, so I haven't seen Pan's Labyrinth and I do not think I've seen any of the other projects listed on his IMDB page. I WILL say that it couldn't be worse than the previously-rumored "Sam Raimi as director" potential.
Gaaak. Wouldn't that have been horrible?
I'll hold my breath and hope that del Toro and the Jackson/Walsh team can work some literary/cinematic magic. It would help to get the same visual effects and supporting crew from the Lord of the Rings movies. That's doubtful, however, because of the sour taste they're sure to have from prior dealings with New Line Cinema.
Which brings me to the riddle:
This thing all things devours:
Birds, beasts, trees, flowers:
Gnaws iron, bites steel:
Grinds hard stones to meal:
Slays king, ruins town,
And beats high mountains down!
[The answer: New Line Cinema's accounting department!]
Thank you, thank you...I'll be here all week. Try the veal and remember to tip the waitress.
There are all sorts of other jokes and one-liners sure to crop up now... "The marketing roads go ever ever on...."
We're also sure to see (another) re-issuing of the Rankin-Bass cartoons from the 1970s.
I didn't really enjoy those movies, but I KNOW for a fact that I'm not the only one humming the "Goblin Town" tune right now....
It could be worse.
You're welcome. THAT ear-worm will be with you for a while.
Bilbo... Bilbo Baggins... Bravest little Hobbit of them all...."
But if I could make two suggestions to the Producers and Director.
First, in re: casting:
There is one man out there that could fill Thorin Oakenshield's sky-blue hood with its long silver tassel:
Yes, he of Blackadder fame. Yes, the same Brian Blessed that was in Branagh's Much Ado About Nothing.
He was also the voice of Boss Nass from Star Wars: Episode 1--The Phantom Menace.
And yes, also Prince Vultan from Flash Gordon.
We'll just ignore that last one, shall we?
Why Brian Blessed, you ask? Well... Mr. Blessed has a nice, booming voice, a morbidly-wicked sense of humor (at least, on screen), and I believe just the right temperament for the King Under the Mountain. I have long been a fan of Mr. Blessed's. His filmography (courtesy of IMDB.com) is quite impressive and varied: Dr. Who; Blake 7; The Avengers; I, Claudius; Henry V; MacGyver; Macbeth; King Lear; Waiting for Godot.
So why not add Tolkien to that list?
His IMDB.com bio says: "Boisterous Brit Brian Blessed is known for his hearty, king-sized portrayals on film and TV. A giant of a man accompanied by an eloquent wit and booming, operatic voice[.]" There you have it: Hearty; king-sized; eloquent wit; booming operatic voice. (We'll ignore the "giant" part, as that can be addressed through visual effects.)
One last argument in favor: he's 4 inches shorter than John Rhys-Davies (a.k.a. Gimli).
My second recommendation: you simply MUST begin the movie with an introductory narrative as Jackson did in The Fellowship of the Ring. The Hobbit just would not be The Hobbit without
In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit.
Not a nasty, dirty, wet hole, filled with the ends of worms and an oozy smell, nor yet a dry, bare sandy hole with nothing in it to sit down on or to eat: it was a hobbit-hole, and that means comfort.
It had a perfectly round door like a porthole, painted green, with a shiny yellow brass knob in the exact middle. The door opened on to a tube-shaped hall like a tunnel: a very comfortable tunnel without smoke, with panelled walls, and floors tiled and carpeted, provided with polished chairs.
This narrative could easily be matched with a visual tour of the hobbit-hole, as well as Hobbiton and various hobbits, much like Fellowship.
O.K. I'm getting too excited.
I'm going to stop here and go back to work.
Just as soon as I finish this next chapter of The Hobbit. Let's see...where was I?
Bilbo had sniffed more than once at what he called 'all this dwarvish racket,' as they went along, though I don't suppose you or I would have noticed anything at all on a windy night, not if the whole cavalcade had passed two feet off.