There have now been four films set in the Lord of the Rings universe, and viewers have developed certain expectations which must be fulfilled. Large, breath-taking views of the landscape and statues? Check. Memorable lines of significance, delivered in hauntingly calm voices? Check. CGI creatures which will either disgust us or fill us with awe? Check. Just from the trailer alone, it seems that the latest instalment of The Hobbit is definitely ticking all the boxes.
In fact, the producers of this trailer seem to be so excited about all the new bits they’ve got to show off, that they’ve forgotten to give a decent amount of screen-time to the dwarves, who I thought were meant to be the main characters. Orlando Bloom is in this trailer more than they are, reprising his role as Legolas, and he’s not even meant to officially be in this trilogy!
In The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, the dwarves continue on their quest to reach the Lonely Mountain. Those familiar with the storyline will know this leads them through Mirkwood, and those who are not will probably be able to guess anyway, judging from the large amount of elves who dominate this trailer. Among these elves, we see some familiar faces, such as Lee Pace as Thranduil, and some new ones, like Evangeline Lilly, who will be playing the Chief of the Guards, Tauriel. What’s this? A female character who fights? This film truly will be full of surprises! Tauriel’s presence in the film will bring the total number of main female characters to two. We’re slowly getting there!
Besides the elves, the trailer is full of action sequences. They look as fast and fun as the fights we saw in the first film, although it looks like this speed is coming at the cost of the CGI effects. In one scene, we see the dwarves floating down a river in barrels, while elves run on the branches above and shoot arrows at them. These elves look clumsy and fake, almost comical in their haste to be running, spinning and shooting at the same time. Come on Peter Jackson! You’ve had plenty of time to perfect special effects by now!
But of course, the most important thing about this trailer is that it answers what we’ve all been worrying about since learning The Hobbit was going to be split into three parts: do we have to wait till the last film for them to get to the Lonely Mountain? Thankfully, it seems that no, we don’t have to wait. In several scenes of the trailer, Bilbo Baggins (Martin Freeman) is shown amongst the treasure in Smaug’s layer. And most notably, at the end of the trailer, he comes face to face with the dragon himself. This provides us with our first real look at Smaug, who will be voiced by Freeman’s fellow Sherlock star, Benedict Cumberbatch.
However, it appears that the dragon has had a makeover since the first film. From the brief glimpses we see of Smaug when he terrorises Dale, and the uncomfortable close up of his opening eye at the end, I was under the impression that he was a golden colour with very detailed eyes. The Smaug of this trailer, on the other hand, looks red and has a small glowing eye, which looks nowhere near as impressive as the previously seen one. Unless there is a dream sequence in the film in which Bilbo imagines the dragon, which I very much doubt, Smaug has gone from being a graceful, majestic monster to a Godzilla look-alike hand-puppet. I find this very disappointing, and hope that the Smaug we see in the trailer is not the end result.
Despite all of this, the trailer is exciting, and should leave those who watch it hoping for more. Personally, I am looking forward to seeing some more explosive acting from Richard Armitage as Thorin Oakenshield. I shall also be interested in witnessing how Jackson creates a film we want to watch without creating something that cannot be outdone by its sequel. After all, if he puts all the exciting bits into the second instalment, what will be left for the third?
The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug is released in cinemas on 13th December 2013 by Warner Bros. Pictures.