This week, Zack Snyder sucker punches moviegoers, Nicolas Cage gets medieval on our asses and a certain batch of Hobbits get a high-def makeover.
Well, this isn't good. It seems that the start of The Hobbit has been delayed for so long in its search for a director that it's starting to affect the talent's schedules. Luckily, all of the talent is debatably replaceable, with one glaring exception: Ian McKellen, who absolutely must play Gandalf the Grey. Or must he? McKellen has a potential scheduling conflict and may have to drop out, which sounds devastating, but while Gandalf does not age as men do, and should therefore look more or less the same as he does 60 years later (when The Fellowship of the Ring occurs), isn't a little creative license a good thing? Couldn't a new Gandalf help to differentiate these films from the original trilogy? Nobody wants to see McKellen replaced, but it's better than another delay or even the death of the film, so here are some suggestions for actors to play the original sorcerer supreme.
Now that director Guillermo Del Toro is no longer directing The Hobbit, a mad search is on to find the new director, both by the studio and by the press, who have thrown out the names of every geek-friendly genre director from Abrams to Raimi. But why does the director have to be known for the fantasy and sci-fi genre? After all, the last three directors of the Harry Potter franchise were virtual strangers to the fantasy film world before they signed on to their installments, and they've been incredibly successful, each with their own distinctive voice. While we aren't going to scour the film festivals to find the next Peter Jackson, there are plenty of established directors who aren't known for swords and sorcery, but might be willing to tackle such an important work of literature.
The rumors about the amount of Steven Spielberg's input on the upcoming Tintin movie have been greatly under-exaggerated. The original plan was to have Spielberg helm the first in the series, with Peter Jackson succeeding him for any sequels. Recently, Herge Studios (Tintin's owners) released word Peter Jackson would be the director of the first film, not Spielberg. Now we have word that Spielberg is still slated to direct the kickoff Tintin movie, which is scheduled to begin lensing this October, and Jackson will produce. It's a lot of confusion over a movie about the German Shepherd who saved Warner Bros. from bankruptcy. Oh wait, that's Rin-Tin-Tin. My bad.
The fellowship that led to Middle Earth success is officially coming back to Hobbiton. No, that other fellowship. As Variety reports, Peter Jackson, Fran Walsh and Philippa Boyens have signed on to collaborate on The Hobbit and its sequel with director and my favorite matador, Guillermo del Toro. The wonder-writers of the immensely successful (and totally awesome) The Lord of the Rings trilogy will finish telling the rest of J.R.R. Tolkien's story before del Toro takes the reigns on directing the two films back-to-back. (Filming starts next year.)
Fanboys rejoice! Sir Ian McKellan (that's Magneto to you) is reprising his role as Gandalf in Guillermo Del Toro's Hobbit Part One and Hobbit Part Deux. Reuters quotes McKellan as saying " I spoke to Guillermo in the very room that Peter Jackson offered me the part and he confirmed that I would be reprising the role. Obviously, it's not a part that you turn down, I loved playing Gandalf." If memory serves me correctly, McKellan's Gandalf, Ian Holm's Bilbo Baggins and Andy Serkis' CGI Gollum characters are the only ones that overlap with the Lord of the Rings. This means those of you waiting for that super hot liquor-filled love scene between Samwise and Frodo will have to instead scour the Internet for that fanboy fiction that turns Mount Doom into Brokeback Mountain. Those Hobbits, they know how to par-tay!
Hopefully, del Toro will do a better job than Rankin and Bass with the material. Their animated Hobbit, which far too many of my schoolmates watched in lieu of reading the assigned book, isn't exactly terrible. It's what you'd expect from the guys who gave us a Baby New Year whose big ears rival Will Smith's and Barack Obama's. But if del Toro is so dedicated that he's moving to New Zealand for four years to work on the films with producer Peter Jackson, one can hope that level of dedication equals quality filmmaking. We'll know in 2010 when the first film comes out.
Speaking of which, why are there two movies in the first place? The Hobbit isn't that big a book, and its story doesn't seem equipped to be spread over two films. Is this greed on the part of the filmmakers? Perhaps New Line can do a cross-pollination of Warner Bros. franchises, and reveal in the two part film version of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows that Gandalf and Dumbledore knew each other in the Biblical sense. I'm being facetious and silly, but I really do mean the next line you're about to read. If they don't include Leonard Nimoy's horrific "The Ballad of Bilbo Baggins" on the Hobbit soundtrack, I ain't going to see it.