It was on network TV Wednesday night. I think it was called “Return to Middle Earth”, I missed the first half hour. The part I saw had some Viggo Mortensen, Liv Tyler, Orlando Bloom, Merry and Pippin (real names escape me) and Andy Serkis, in his Gollum suit used to generate the CGI. My observations:
Merry and Pippin would be fun guys to hang out with IRL.
Viggo Mortensen is a very hard worker. Already an accomplished horseman, he used to practice his riding on his days off!
However much Serkis got paid, it wasn’t enough. They showed him scrabbling in a frozen New Zealand river, trying to catch a fish with his bare hands. They had to do at least four takes. The scene was supposed to take place in summer, so the crew had to melt all the ice and snow in the area with heaters and fans!
At the end of the show they had a five minute or so preview of the movie. It takes place on the plains of Rohan, when Theoden and Co. are trying to get to Helm’s Deep. They show Legolas looking out over the plains as Wolf Riders approach. He lets loose a couple of arrows with easy, fluid motions, nailing the bad guys from hundreds of yards out-beautiful! Theoden, his Riders, Aragorn, and Gimli ride up behind him (there is some comic relief with Gimli being unable to get up on his horse, then unable to get him to go the right way). The good guys ride past Legolas to engage the Wolf-Riders (who seem to be completely CGI, as far as I could tell). In the background, almost as a throwaway, Legolas performs an incredible stunt to get up on the horse’s back, just swinging himself up behind Gimli without the horse even seeming to break stride. This part of the scene was in slow motion, which Jackson used in some scenes in FOTR. It all looked great, all the scenes with the Riders in battle are going to be as good as everyone hopes, and Aragorn seems to be acting more “King-like”. I think at one point they called the people of Rohan “the Rohans” which might offend purists. I might have misheard, though. I wish I had taped it. Anyone else see it?