A red letter day for rabid fans of Peter Jackson productions and/or purveyors of specialist fantasy erotica, for three more vaguely silly-looking promotional stills of grown men dressed as mythical dwarves have hit the interwebs. Even though there’s well over a year until “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey” is released in theaters, these bland-as-hell photos are rapidly becoming the new “Harry Potter” posters: an endless drip-feed of drawn-out and bland ephemera from Jackson’s promotional dialysis machine as he attempts to keep the specifics of his production puckered up tighter than a snare drum, and yet still keep his thousands of fans on his side. It’s an admirable plan as any rationally-minded film fan should be looking forward to the first installment of “The Hobbit” as one of the highlights of 2012 but, though we’ve met seven of the clan thus far (Dori, Nori, Ori, Óin, Glóin, Kili & Fili) it’s hard not to feel, well, dwarfed in both senses of the word by these diminutive and non-spectacular announcements.
The folks at IGN have been treated to the newest additions to the team: Bombur (Stephen Hunter), Bofur (James Nesbitt) and Bifur (William Kircher) who look like Gerard Depardieu on his first day at an involuntary intervention at a weight loss camp, a white Fu Manchu impersonator on a climbing expedition and Alice Cooper with shag carpeting stuck to his chin, respectively. If Jennifer Saunders and Dawn French ever want to churn out another Tolkein parody, they've got a bounty of new material awaiting them. Those awaiting the rest of this rapidly-expanding fellowship – Balin, Thorin Oakenshield, Doc, Bashful, Sneezy, Pugh, Barney McGrew, Cuthbert, Dibble, Grub, Tweedledum, Tweedledee, Fartface, Top Cat, Papa Smurf, Tyrion and Gummo -- will presumably have to wait a few more days until we can see what they look like in front of a grey background and showered in trinkets from an over-zealous costume designer’s basket of wonders.
All joking aside and the colossal horror of “The Lovely Bones” notwithstanding – and an annoying tendency to portray the whole shoot in the online production diaries as a Mills & Boon sappy romance with Andy Serkis as the male lead -- Peter Jackson, his wife and producing partner Fran Walsh, and screenwriter Phillipa Boyens are all consummate professionals at the top of their game, so it’s perhaps best to brush aside these temporary blips on the PR machine and look at the wider picture. As long as Susan Sarandon isn’t revealed at the last minute to be playing Lobelia Sackville-Baggins reinterpreted as a whacked-out chain-smoking hippie aunt stuck in the 1960s, all will be well in Middle Earth.
For those unacquainted with the source novel: the uncouth dwarves Bombur and Bofur are brothers from the West who, along with their cousin Bifur, accompany Bilbo and eight others on the Quest of Erebor to the Lonely Mountain. “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey” arrives in theaters on December 14, 2012.