Comic-Con 2012: 'The Hobbit' Brings Us Back to Middle Earth

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Kevin Winter, Getty Images

Trolls! Dwarves! Maniacs in beards! But enough about the audience here at San Diego Comic-Con, let's talk about Warner Bros.'s closer to its massive two-and-a-half-hour panel: 'The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey."

To enormous applause the lights dimmed and the dwarf song heard in the teaser trailer rumbled through Hall H's massive speakers. We were then treated to an enormous behind the scenes package, showing some of the frivolity and workmanship of Peter Jackson's 229 day shoot.

The King of the Shire himself, Peter Jackson, then emerged with a video camera, recording for another of his video blog diaries. He directed us in saying "Hello from Comic-Con" so now I can add that I've worked with him on my resume.

The main event, however, were the ten and a half minutes of footage. It showed:

The twelve dwarves and Gandalf readying for adventure. Gandalf suggests that Bilbo Baggins is a good thief and should join them. Smaug the Dragon is used to the smell of dwarves, but not that of Hobbits. After some Bob Hope-esque comedy, Bilbo Baggins joins the team.

Next, a collection of wonderful Middle Earth images, like labyrinths, dungeons, Rivendell, Bilbo holding Sting and, yes!, Christopher Lee!

On a dark footbridge a dwarf warns Gandalf that they are heading into a trap. The wise, Grey wizard remarks, "of course it is a trap."

Next, a lengthy scene where Bilbo and Gollum meet. If you thought Gollum looked cool in the original LOTR he looks even more striking now. The wrinkles around his eyes (no offense to Andy Serkis) are almost photoreal.

There's a moment between Galadriel, looking angelic, and Gandalf, looking a bit like a shabby hippie.

Then, more quick images: Orcs, trolls and a giant rock monster that looks amazing.

As the lights came on, Jackson introduced his co-writer Philippa Boyens, Martin Freeman in a cool, light blue hat that was pwned by Ian McKellan in a pink linen jacket. Andy Serkis and Richard Armitage were on stage, too, as was Elijah Wood - a last minute invitee from Peter Jackson.

The audience Q & A was a flood of audience appreciation.

Some stand out moments include:

Richard Armitage trying to describe "the heat and sweat of sweaty dwarf."

Peter Jackson, explaining how he doesn't earmark certain scenes as specific to the Extended Editions of his DVDs, but, "we aren't very good at making short movies."

Most delightful, though, was when Andy Serkis was cajoled by host Chris Hardwick to do the Smeagol voice.

"For fu*k's sake, you said you wouldn't do it!" he said "to himself" in character.

I can't deny that I feel all warm and fuzzy thinking about a return to Middle Earth. I've never read Tolkein's 'Hobbit' books, and I worry that with this many bearded characters with funny names, it might be a bit of a prerequisite to actually "get" the movie. But that's okay. Jackson's given me enough enjoyment over the years that I'm happy to do a little work.

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