The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug Trailer Explained

[UPDATED]

The trailer for The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, the second of Peter Jackson’s planned trilogy of Hobbit movies, is out. The movie itself comes Dec. 13. But here’s what secrets the trailer seems to reveal:

1) Yep, the movie is still part of a trilogy. None of the fan outrage has stopped Jackson from sticking with his Plan A: adapting the book as not one, not two, but three films. Three LONG films. Which will annoy many Tolkien fans who wanted this film experience to be shorter.

legolas
Orlando Bloom returns as Legolas (Image: MGM/New Line/Warner Bros.)

2) Legolas is back. Legolas (Orlando Bloom) definitely makes an appearance, as had been rumored. Woot! Or, what?

3) It’s a quest. Like the first film, An Unexpected Journey, this one is just as quest-y. The plot, the scope, the tone of the trailer all suggest how Jackson has taken the simple tale of a hobbit’s journey and turned it into a save-the-world-scaled adventure. “The quest to reclaim a homeland and slay a dragon,” Thranduil the Elvenking intones. In case we did not get the importance of the dwarves’ mission. But what about Bilbo’s journey?

Evangeline Lilly as Tauriel (Image: MGM/New Line/Warner Bros.)
Tauriel who? Evangeline Lilly as elvish warrior Tauriel, a character NOT in the book (Image: MGM/New Line/Warner Bros.)

4) Tauriel who? There’s a clip of a conversation between Legolas and the elf warrior Tauriel, played by Evangeline Lilly (an invented character not in the book, which might be the most egregious affront fans), about growing “evil” and whether the elves should get involved. “‘Tis not our fight,” Legolas doth protest. “It ’tis our fight,” counters Tauriel. Again, making the stakes bigger to better match the events of The Lord of the Rings?

5) Gandalf said what? As Gandalf, Ian McKellen still has gravitas. But the dude still mutters his lines! Can someone please tell him to get those lembas out of his mouth and speak up and enunciate?

6) Action! Cut! More action! Based on the trailer, I’m getting the sense this is as much an action movie as the first. There’s a roller coaster-like barrel ride through rapids, elves and goblins and orcs leaping left and right and out from trees above, as well as a dozen different fight scenes, and thudding drum-beats to up the tension. Purists won’t be pleased.

The ruined city of Dale, at the foot of Erebor(Image: MGM/New Line/Warner Bros.)
The ruined city of Dale, at the foot of Erebor (Image: MGM/New Line/Warner Bros.)

7) Grand scale. Jackson has also upped the scale and grandeur of Middle-earth. We see sweeping camera moves through a cavernous Elvenking hideout (at least that’s what it seems to be), the ruins of the city of Dale at the foot of the Lonely Mountain, aerial shots of Lake-town, and a chill-inducing shot of the Fellowship (whoops! I mean the Company) marching across the axe-clenched fist of a giant stone dwarf carved into the side of the Lonely Mountain. The visuals alone are astounding.

8) It’s a trap! Radagast shouts “What if it’s a trap?!” and Gandalf mutters … well I’m not sure what. “[unintelligible] … definitely [?] … a trap.” Can anyone hear what he says? [According to those with better hearing than mine — hey I’m old and deaf — the line is: “It is undoubtedly a trap.” Thank you, loyal readers.]

9) Monsters. We see glimpses of a Mirkwood spider. A bear busting through a door (probably Beorn?). And a somewhat obscured shot of Smaug, right at the end of the trailer — but it’s murky. Just glowing orange eyes, his head and snake-like neck.

10) Bilbo, where did you sneak off to? Not one line dialogue in the trailer from Bilbo (Martin Freeman). Strange. As if this second movie is not about a hobbit at all.

You thoughts and differences of opinion welcome below.

A glimpse of Smaug
A glimpse of Smaug (Image: MGM/New Line/Warner Bros.)

Ethan Gilsdorf is a journalist, memoirist, critic, poet, teacher and 17th level geek. He wrote the award-winning travel memoir investigation Fantasy Freaks and Gaming Geeks: An Epic Quest for Reality Among Role Players, Online Gamers, and Other Dwellers of Imaginary Realms. Based in Somerville, Massachusetts, Gilsdorf writes regularly for the New York Times, Boston Globe, Salon.com, BoingBoing.net, PsychologyToday.com, Washington Post and wired.com. He has published hundreds of articles, essays, op-eds and reviews on the arts, pop culture, gaming, geek culture and travel in dozens of other magazines, newspapers, websites and guidebooks worldwide. He has also published dozens of poems in literary magazines and anthologies. He is a core contributor to the blogs "GeekDad, "Geek Pride" on PsychologyToday.com, and Boston NPR affiliate WBUR's Cognoscenti blog. He is also a book and film critic for the Boston Globe, and is the film columnist for Art New England. He and author Noble Smith geek out and wax nostalgic about D&D and other nerdy pop culture relics at Dungeons & Dorkwards. He is a lover of ELO and a hater of littering. Sometimes he wears a tunic and chainmail, or these grampy pants. More info fantasyfreaksbook.com or follow on Facebook fantasyfreaksbook