Watch the Action-Packed New Trailer for The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug

Slate's Culture Blog
June 11 2013 2:41 PM

Trailer Critic: The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug

Orlando_Bloom_Legolas_Hobbit_Desolation
Orland Bloom returns as Legolas in The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug

Still from YouTube

The first of Peter Jackson’s Hobbit films may have been a disappointment to many, but that didn’t stop it from grossing more than a billion dollars at the box office worldwide. Now this afternoon we have the trailer for the second chapter of the three-film adaptation of the novel, The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug.

While the first film had a fair amount of exposition to get out of the way—our hero Bilbo didn’t even leave the Shire until about an hour into the movie—the trailer seems to be selling this middle chapter as more action-packed. There will be fewer dwarf ballads, the trailer suggests, and more of the kind of elaborate action set-pieces at which Jackson excels. One, depicting the barrel escape of the book, looks a lot like an amusement park ride, or a challenging level in a Donkey Kong game.

Aside from the action, there are some new characters: Lee Pace’s leafy-haired Elvenking Thranduil, Luke Evans’ scruffy-faced Bard the Bowman, and Evangeline Lilly’s elf warrior Tauriel (who was created by Jackson to expand on the book). There are also new creatures, like the giant Beorn the Bear, and of course the titular dragon Smaug, voiced by Benedict Cumberbatch. Smaug is teased throughout the trailer, and appears briefly at the end, the effect of which is undercut by the fact that we already glimpsed him at the end of the last movie. Finally, there’s the return of some old favorites, most notably Orlando Bloom’s Legolas, who is looking more blue-eyed in this installment than ever.

It’s all this color correction that’s bothering me most, with the latest chapter looking like it was more heavily manipulated by digital effects than perhaps any before. Watch as they journey from lands where everything is blue, the trailer seems to say, to lands where everything is yellow. The frequently unconvincing effects of the last one were one of its biggest problems, exacerbated by its often being projected at 48 frames per second. If the new film looks a little too fake here, it may look even worse in 48 fps—so hopefully Jackson and co. will spiff it up a bit before it hits theaters on Dec. 13.

Previously from the Trailer Critic
Woody Allen’s Blue Jasmine
Alfonso Cuarón’s Gravity
Ender’s Game
Neill Blomkamp’s Elysium
Only God Forgives
Kick-Ass 2

Pedro Almodóvar’s I’m So Excited
The Coen Brothers’ Inside Llewyn Davis
Man of Steel
World War Z
The Lone Ranger

Forrest Wickman is a Slate staff writer.