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Hurray... Here Comes The Hobbit

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'Meet Bilbo!' this month's edition of Empire film magazine suggests, deciding the world needs an update on Peter Jackson's work in progress out in the wilds of New Zealand.

Given The Hobbit is still 18 months away from a release date, this seems an unnecessary sop to 'Tolkies' (fans of J.R. Tolkien) and indeed to Warner Brothers, the film's backers.

But, in case you had forgotten, we are talking about a "long-awaited $500 million, two-film prequel to The Lord of the Rings, as filmed in real 3D"....and the really good news is that Martin Freeman is on board this time, joining Ian McKellen, Bernard Hill,Elijah Wood, Cate Blanchett and all the other lustrous thespians who have sold their souls to the tedious Tolkie super franchise.

Oh God, Stephen Fry is in there too, playing the "greedy Master of Lake Town". Is David Mitchell also lurking somewhere in the Tower of Echtelion?

I have no worries about the feeble talents of Wood and Freeman being used in this overblown Dungeons and Dragons drivel. Poor Martin has never topped Tim in The Office. Genuinely endearing in that, his charms have worn very thin elsewhere.

Elijah Wood's turn as a 'Green Street' West Ham football thug, cute and so courageous, was laughably bad, as was the actor's professed love of Upton Park. No fear of Millwall when you have battled Middle Earth nasties and held on to the ring.

But Sir Ian? Please....He stares out balefully from the Empire cover ('Your Return to Middle-Earth Starts Here!') long pipe in hand, looking like the Russian emigre brefriended by the Railyway Children.

I hold the man dear, having seen his Romeo opposite the luscious Francesca Annis as Juliet at Stratford many moons ago. His Macbeth was peerless, his Richard III fearless. But will he now be remembered best as a hoary old wisecracking wizard, the captive of Tolkies?