A recap of news about the live-action film of The Hobbit, intended as a prequel to Peter Jackson's The Lord of the Rings film trilogy, which featured Ian Holms (above) as Bilbo Baggins:
The Bad News: Litigation and bad blood between Jackson and New Line tied up the project for two years and cast doubt that Jackson would return to direct it.
The Good News: In December of 2007, New Line and Jackson resolved their differences. The Hobbit was on, with Jackson's involvement, and a target release date of the summer of 2011!
The Bad News: Wait, Jackson's not actually directing it â he's co-writing and producing it. So what was all the fuss about? And who will direct The Hobbit?
The Good News: It's official as of last week: Guillermo del Toro will direct the Hobbit, and will even move to New Zealand for four years to work on it and a nebulous-sounding second film that will apparently bridge the events of The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings. I don't get it, either, but del Toro, director of Pan's Labyrinth and Hellboy, is one of cinema's greatest fantasists of our time.
The Bad News: Hang on, del Toro might not actually be the best filmmaker for the job. Salon.com's Andrew O'Hehir posts a provocative piece that suggests that del Toro's sensibility may not be simpatico with Tolkein's vision, and includes this money quote from del Toro from 2006:
"I was never into heroic fantasy. At all. I don't like little guys and dragons, hairy feet, hobbits â I've never been into that at all. I don't like sword and sorcery, I hate all that stuff."
Um, what? Bilbo Baggins? Smaug the dragon? Now I don't know what to think.
O'Hehir's piece damningly compares New Line's The Hobbit to a George Lucas-type project, which seems a little off-base. Nobody wants tone-deaf prequels to a beloved trilogy, but Jackson and del Toro are both ingenious filmmakers in their prime, while Lucas's decision to personally direct the three Star Wars prequels after 20 years away from the director's chair seems highly misguided in retrospect. So I'm going to assume the Jackson/del Toro team-up is good news until proven otherwise.
(Image courtesy of New Line Cinema)