The Hobbit trilogy bids a sentimental farewell to San Diego Comic-Con

The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies

Peter Jackson has brought a Middle-earth movie to San Diego for the last time.

Jackson, screenwriter Philipa Boyens and cast members Benedict Cumberbatch, Evangeline Lilly, Cate Blanchett, Orlando Bloom, Lee Pace, Luke Evans, Andy Serkis, Elijah Wood and Graham McTavish all assembled in Hall H on Saturday morning (July 26) at Comic-Con for one final victory lap to promote this December's release of The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies.

They were joined by Stephen Colbert as moderator, who took the stage dressed as the Master of Laketown. Colbert is an unabashed fan of the Tolkien books and Jackson's movies, even down to reciting a poem from Tolkien by heart onstage (unlike many Hall H moderators, he knew what he was talking about). The presentation began with a video clip montage that looked back at the entire saga until now, including all three Lord of the Rings films and the two preceding Hobbit movies.

I won't lie: The Hobbit films have been a tremendous disappointment to me (and I loved all Tolkien's books and the Rings movies). But there's no questioning the fact that a lot of people still enjoy them very much, and the enthusiasm was clear in Hall H this morning.

The high point of the morning was a drop-dead hilarious blooper reel cobbled together from all of the movies that featured priceless items like Gandalf doing a strip-tease, Jackson and McKellen trading barbs on the set after McKellen flubs his lines, Hugo Weaving turning to confront Viggo Mortensen with his Agent Smith glasses on, and lots more hilarity that we can only hope appears on the mega-box set at some point in the future.

The real gem, however, was the first screening of the trailer for The Battle of the Five Armies, which had a darker, more somber tone than any previous Hobbit trailer and was even set to Billy Boyd's emotional "The Steward of Gondor (Mist and Shadow)" from The Return of the King. The effort to make parallels to that movie -- a final, massive battle and the presence of death looming over everyone -- was obvious, perhaps too much so, and the footage of armies massing and various characters in states of distress or conflict hammered home the analogy that much more. "Will you have peace or war?" Bard asks Thorin at one point. "I will have war," the dwarf leader replies.

As for the panel, Jackson revealed that he is still editing the film and they are still doing visual effects for it. When Colbert mentioned that he owed three more films (I'm not sure what exactly he was referring to, unless he meant an adaptation of The Silmarillion), Jackson quipped, “I’m sure if Warners could find a way to do that, they would certainly do it.”

Jackson also admitted that there were still a few excised scenes from The Lord of the Rings that had yet to be seen by the public, including one of a young Arwen and Aragorn, but that all the original footage was stored in a mountain somewhere (Peter Jackson, by the way, just seems permanently exhausted these days).

Of course I will go see The Battle of the Five Armies this December when it comes out -- the trailer definitely was impressive -- and there was a certain poignancy to seeing this entire saga celebrated one more time at Comic-Con. Are you looking forward to the last Hobbit film?

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