The Hobbit releases a pair of new images

The Hobbit has released a pair of new images online, with Middle-earth's favourite hoarder, Gollum, making his long-awaited return to the big screen.

The first image features Andy Serkis in his mo-cap gear sharing a scene with Martin Freeman, while the second shows Serkis in all his CGI glory, as the cave-dwelling miscreant, Gollum. He looks just as down in the mouth as ever, doesn't he?

The story sees Bilbo become lost in the Goblin tunnels, where he discovers a mysterious ring before encountering Gollum. He is then posed with a series of riddles and challenges, the successful completion of which will result in Gollum showing him the way out. Failure, however, will cost him his life.

"Gollum is never really gone too far away from me because he's indelibly kind of printed into my DNA now," says Serkis of his return to the role. "I'll tell you what was weird is going back and playing a character that has been so sort of absorbed into public consciousness that you almost don't feel like you own it any more."

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey
opens in the UK on 14 December 2012. In the meantime, you can check out another image of Gollum below. We've missed him!