As well as busily staffing the TORn booths at Comic-con, a handful of our staff were mad devoted enough to queue all night in order to catch the Hobbit showreel that Peter Jackson screened in Hall H for Rings fans.

After, while our lucky, lucky staff were still slightly delirious as a result of sleep-deprivation, we subjected them to a barrage of questions to get their impressions of the footage.

So without further ado, here a spoilerific summary what our staff thought of the showreel!

What was your immediate impression of the showreel afterwards?

Arwen: This looks so beautiful, it goes so fast, why can’t they show the footage to us again like they did with Man of Steel or Godzilla?

Deej: That it went by too fast and I wanted to see it again!

Elessar: My goodness this movie is going to blow us all away.

Garfeimao: There were spoilers, especially bits that were clearly second film, so I felt rather privileged.

maegwen: I was reporting on the trailer for TORn, so I had been taking notes throughout the twelve minutes of action. So I was consumed with details while trying to think of a big-picture story.

My immediate response was: “This is going to be so much better than I ever imagined.” Which isn’t saying that I went into it with apprehensions, it’s that somewhere in my mind I still couldn’t assign any gravitas to the concept of ‘The Hobbit’.

So, despite many long hours of picking apart spoilers and dribs of information and our winter trailer — I still didn’t imagine an end product that carried any weight. If that makes sense. But what raced across the screen — it seemed to go very, very quickly — built a lot of drama out of small details plucked from the plot. It’s the kind of thing that sets people up at arms at first, but I think it’s going to make the film very cool. There’s a lot of promise.

What was that ONE scene that totally blew you away? Why?

Arwen: Like a lot of other folks, the Riddles in the Dark scene. Very well realized and coming straight out of the book the way I imagined it.

Deej: The very long shot of Bilbo, Gandalf, and the dwarves, discussing whether to go after the treasure. I was blown away because it was quite a long bit of the beginning of the film.

Elessar: Seeing part of Riddles in the Dark. That’s a great moment in the book and it just came to life in front of my eyes.

Garfeimao: The big Stone Giants tossing boulders. I was not sure if they would include them, so I was very happy to see them.

maegwen: Tough question. It’s about a week off now, though, and the part I still remember most clearly is the contract scene. Which is odd, because it was so early in the twelve minutes and there was so much that followed you would think it was blown away. But Martin Freeman stepped into Bilbo’s skin so neatly — he seemed more “Bilbo” than Ian Holm, to me — it was astonishing.

And, remember, if this part of the story didn’t connect, if this part of the story failed to convince us that this is Bilbo, that the Company is believable and not corny — then nothing that follows would work. And I think they accomplished that.

What was the glimpse of Bard the Bowman like? (answers about level of hotness acceptable)

Arwen: It was great, but to me, not better than seeing Radagast.

Deej: I loved seeing him jump from the burning rooftops after Smaug; he reminded me a little of Will Turner, hence the high hotness level. 😀

Elessar: Very cool! It’s seeing a character come to life and that’s awesome.

Garfeimao: Oh, you know us too well. It was great to finally see Luke in costume, and then up on the rooftop he went, in a harness, running and jumping from rooftop to rooftop, all while it was burning. Seems they had him doing the dragon-fighting sequence on his very first day of filming, talk about trial by fire.

What was the thing that made the best action sequence?

Arwen: The amazing giants.

Deej: Gandalf being chased by… something… in Dol Guldur.

Elessar: I liked seeing Legolas come out of the leaves at the dwarves.

Garfeimao: Gandalf in the passages of Dol Guldur, but not alone, something was running from passage to passage, and then pounces on him. Very cool sequence.

maegwen: The action sequences we glimpsed are classic Jackson-Lord of the Rings. Gandalf in Dol Guldur, the giants, the elven “warriors” — all very much visually in keeping with what we’ve seen before. I think though the flashes of the giants is what “scared” me the most. Another would be, of course, the sight of Tauriel coming face-to-face with the astonished group of Dwarves … but for other reasons, of course.

What piece of dialogue moved you the most? Why?

Arwen: Bilbo: I found something in the cave. Gandalf: What did you find? Bilbo (hesitating and wanting to say “I found a ring”) I found my courage! Gandalf: Good, you’re going to need it !

Deej: Bilbo talking to Gandalf after finding the ring and escaping the caves (“I’ve found something….i’ve found my courage.”). The look on Bilbo’s face as he reaches into his pocket, and then stops before showing Gandalf the ring — it was moving to see the pull the ring is already starting to have over Bilbo.

Elessar: Again, I’m gonna go Riddles in the Dark. It’s again having that come to life was way too cool.

Garfeimao: I really liked Thorin’s opening speech to the dwarves about the signs that Smaug might be dead or gone, and that these signs would be seen by others too, and that if they wanted to take back Erebor, they should get on with it already. This was before the key had been presented, so he was clearly trying to drum up enthusiasm for what seemed an impossible task at that moment. Once the key was presented, many of the dwarves… suddenly realized that retaking Erebor might actually be possible.

maegwen: Gandalf and Galadriel speaking was excellent, though very little was said. It was what was hinted at, and the depth of emotion behind their conversation — that was captivating. It’s second scene that’s stuck with me the most.

What was the bit that, as a Tolkien fan, made you really happy?

Arwen: Everything. I have a sweet spot for PJ’s portrayal of Radagast. I think Radagast is going to be my favorite character in the movie.

Deej: The Riddles in the Dark sequence.

Elessar: The whole thing. Really, I mean that. I love The Hobbit and seeing these clips was twelve minutes of goosebumps.

Garfeimao: I must say I immensely enjoyed the contract scene with Bilbo reading the contract, and Bofur especially egging him on with just how dangerous Smaug really is, until poor Bilbo faints. It’s classic and funny and very enjoyable.

maegwen: Laketown. I’m very visual and I’ve been imagining these places in my mind for decades. The settings in “the films” have never let me down. They perfectly match — surpass, even — how I’ve envisioned these places. It’s my favorite thing, seeing the story physically brought to life.

Tell us what you thought of/felt about seeing:

The Unexpected Party

Arwen: Beautifully shot and they showed us such a long moment of it! I almost thought for a minute they were going to show us the entire movie! 🙂 The scene feels straight out of the book and the acting is terrific.

Deej: Finally seeing this “in action” after seeing promotional shots for so many months brought tears to my eyes.

Elessar: It was great! Watching this event unfold and Bilbo’s reaction was priceless.

Garfeimao: It’s clear from the beginning of the sequence that Bilbo is fine letting the Dwarves and Gandalf sit in on the discussion and him being off on his own, but listening in. He gets rather drawn in when the key is produced and there is a map, and he can’t help but chip in. It was rather delightful to see all the dwarves participting in the conversation as well. It looks just like I imagined it would look, so I’m rather happy with that.

maegwen: It was brilliant, plain and simple. I believed it, it convinced me the story could hang on these dwarves and that they wouldn’t be caricatures or buffoons. On some level I think I was still afraid of that.

The Dol Guldur sequence

Arwen: Mysterious and scary. Who is this character stalking Gandalf? It’s not often that Gandalf looks scared.

Deej: Very exciting; it would take something very terrible to frighten Gandalf, and he looked pretty terrified.

Elessar: Creepy and cool. I felt afraid for Gandalf.

Garfeimao: It’s a creepy looking place, all dark, dank and gray looking. And like any good haunted house, there are mysterious noises and movements that Gandalf can’t quite track, until he gets pounced on. Should be good for a scare or two, indeed.

maegwen: The simple corner-of-the-eye chase aspect of it was effective. You knew Thrain was coming, but it still was shocking and it looked great.

Radagast the Brown

Arwen: As expressed before, I feel he’s going to be my favorite character in the film. I love PJ’s idea of Radagast and Sylvester McCoy’s portrayal. Poetic and with its own unique personality.

Deej: I loved seeing the little birds land in his hair, and then him putting on his hat over them. And the little hedgehog!

Elessar: It felt like I just saw what was in War in the North come to life. He was his own wizard and not a carbon copy of Gandalf.

Garfeimao: He appears to follow Gandalf to Dol Guldur, or at least, the outskirts of it, before getting a little leery of the place. Finally, Gandalf tells him not to follow any longer, and he runs off. We do, at some point, see the Bunnysled, and it moves quite quickly, so I’m not sure I’d be ready to think it funny, but then, I will just wait to see it. But from what I saw, Radagast seems to be less inclined to get involved in intrigue and danger.

maegwen: My fears may be realized here. Will he be my Jar Jar Binks? I don’t know. I’m reserving judgment. I did learn what a hedgehog looks like. I’d described it as a bunny, but was put to rights at WETA’s party — HEDGEHOG. People from New Jersey don’t know their hedgehogs from their bunnies.

Gandalf and Galadriel talking

Arwen: Very touching, simple scene between two powerful beings — shown there at their weakest maybe.

Deej: Very moving to see Galadrial take Gandalf’s hand and saying: “If you ever need aid, I will come”.

Elessar: I was glad to see this to know more about what was in the trailer. I loved that Galadriel was curious as to why he choose a hobbit and knowing that a Hobbit might be critical for Middle-earth later.

Garfeimao: We finally have some more context for this sequence, which starts with Galadriel questioning why Gandalf included a halfling in the quest for Erebor. He voices his beliefs in Hobbits and their virtues and steadfastness and how Hobbits make him feel better and feel more brave. It’s at this point that Galadriel realizes Gandalf is worried, whether it is about the quest for Erebor or other things, doesn’t matter, so she comforts him and let’s him know she will always be there for him should he ever need it. She then vanishes, so she is either able to apparate or this was a vision much like we see between Elrond and Galadriel or with Arwen and Aragorn. So Galdriel was not in Rivendell, as we thought before.

maegwen: Fascinating. I think on the surface people will find it “romantic,” but if you know their back story and long history, you know — or think you know — where the emotion is coming from. Now, it could be that the filmmakers decide that rather than explain thousands of years of history, they make the pair “lovers from a long way back” and then my head will explode.

One other key or cool scene/thing of your choice

Arwen: It was nice to see Legolas again, and I really liked the fight scenes involving him and Tauriel. Unlike some fans I have no issues with the addition of Tauriel to the movie and I love Evangeline Lilly.

Deej: Just getting to see Laketown — which we won’t see again until December 2013 — was pretty amazing.

Elessar: I did like seeing Tauriel real quick. That was pretty awesome!

Garfeimao: We saw the Master of Laketown run into his home and through back the floorboards, to reveal a huge treasure trove. It’s quite telling of his personality, even this far out from actually knowing anything else about him.

Finally, Was there anything that looked out of place? Anything that gave you pause?

Arwen: No. On the contrary, everything looked way better than I expected.

Deej: Seeing Legolas and Tauriel fighting side by side; it wasn’t necessarily out of place, I just wasn’t expecting to see it. Also, it took me a moment to realize the long, auburn-haired elf was Evangeline Lilly.

Garfeimao: Legolas is amongst the Elves that captures the Dwarves, and Thorin is among them. While I’m not really all that perturbed by Legolas being there, he is the son of the king after all, but Thorin being captured with the rest is a big depature. It takes away that whole separation thing that would be a normal advantage when questioning prisoners if they don’t know where their commrades are or if they are safe or not. Nevermind that later on Bilbo finds both parties and lets them all know, the Elves don’t know each has found the other. Bringing them all in together lessens this aspect of their imprisonment.

maegwen: I’m afraid Radagast will be the Gimli of the movie, simply because he’s a blank slate and there needs to be some light touches. Though, we didn’t see anything of Bombur in action, so he’s in the running for that role too.