Who's ready to venture back to Middle-Earth?
Nine years after "The Return of the King" closed out the epic "The Lord of the Rings" trilogy -- and won 11 Oscars -- director Peter Jackson is bringing J.R.R. Tolkien's earlier book, "The Hobbit," to the big screen. And in the just-released trailer for the first installment of this new trilogy, entitled "An Unexpected Journey," we see a host of new characters along with some familiar faces. And, most notably, it shows the return of Gollum.
Watch the latest trailer for 'The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey':
Once again played by Andy Serkis via performance capture technology, Gollum is seen in the trailer making a wager with the young Bilbo Baggins (played by "Sherlock" star Martin Freeman, taking on the role originated by Ian Holm in the first trilogy). In the story, Bilbo gets lost in the caves where Gollum resides. Gollum agrees to help him find his way out, but only if Bilbo can beat him in a game of riddles. "If Baggins loses," Gollum says in the trailer, "we eats it whole."
In the book, Bilbo finally stumps Gollum with the riddle, "What have I got in my pocket?" Gollum guesses wrong, and shows Bilbo the way out of his cave. Gollum never guesses that the answer to the question is a golden ring Bilbo found in the cave -- yes, that ring. The One Ring which Bilbo later passes on to his nephew Frodo so that he can destroy it in the fires of Mount Doom.
Gollum's not the only returning cast member from the first "Lord of the Rings" trilogy. Ian McKellen returns as Gandalf the Grey, the friendly wizard who recruits Bilbo to join a band of thirteen dwarves on their quest. This new trailer also gives us good looks at Cate Blanchett and Hugo Weaving reprising their roles as the elves Galadriel and Elrond. But there's still no sight of Orlando Bloom, who will be back as the blond archer Legolas.
If you want to see a bit more of Gollum, the movie's official site has four alternate endings for the trailer. The one featuring Gollum shows more of his introduction to Bilbo, with the Hobbit getting his first look at the creature's split personality. Gollum tells Bilbo, "We knows safe paths for Hobbitses. Safe paths in the dark." Then he blurts out "Shut up!" A surprised Bilbo says, "I didn't say anything," and Gollum snarls back, "We wasn't talking to you."
"The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey," the first of the three new movies, will open on December 14.