(Trailer Impressions) The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug
WARNING: Since The Hobbit was a book that a lot of us grew up with, I don’t consider it taboo to be talking about spoilers. We will discuss what’s shown in the trailer, what it might mean, and the adventures that our heroes will embark on. SPOILERS AHEAD.
Now, I am a huge fan of The Lord of the Rings and it’s hard not to have huge expectations for this follow-up trilogy. I was a little underwhelmed by The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey (review here) so I’m hoping that The Desolation of Smaug makes me a believer again.
Below, I’m posting the first trailer for The Desolation of Smaug, and then my thoughts.
Originally, this trilogy was meant to be a part one and a part two, but Peter Jackson decided to go the route of three films. This meant that they would get to explore some content from the appendices of the texts, filling in gaps that weren’t in The Hobbit, as originally written. This is a cool opportunity and in this trailer, we can see some of those moments as Gandalf and Radagast explore the ruins of Dol Guldur.
In terms of actual source material, this movie looks to cover most of the bulk of the book. We begin as our adventure, the first milestone to come across is the introduction of Beorn, a skinchanger who can become a bear at will. We see an instance of this character in the trailer (I assume), as a bear tries to break into a house (at the 0:40 mark). Now, I don’t remember Beorn breaking into any houses. Maybe it’s an added action scene to give the opening of the film something to work with.
Our troupe of warriors (plus Bilbo) then adventure into the Mirkwood forest, where they encounter giant spiders. So those of you that were squirmish with Shelob in Return of the King, get ready for a whole army of them. Our heroes are saved at the last possible minute by King Thranduil (Lee Pace) and his elven warriors, including his elven son Legolas (Orlando Bloom).
Now, this trailer almost forces me to bring up a huge addition or possible discrepancy to the original text. A huge portion of this trailer shows the elves fighting (in general). In the book, this doesn’t happen until the epic finale. Here, it looks like they’re attacking the barrels on the river (didn’t happen) and they’re fighting orcs, including the horribly CGIed Azog.
I’m not quite sure when this would happen. Presumably after the dwarves escape the wood elves. This would give an epic battle to showcase while Bilbo has his toe-to-toe conversation with Smaug. From a filmmaker’s perspective, I can see it. The climax of this film would be relatively slow, even though it includes a dragon.
Still… you know Azog and Thorin are going to have it out during the Battle of Five Armies, so that doesn’t bode well for the wood elves in this film. We’ll see how they handle it.
And like I just mentioned, the main event for this film is the verbal sparring of Smaug and Bilbo. For those of you who didn’t read the books (AND WHO I TOLD TO NOT READ THIS ARTICLE)… Smaug talks and is voiced by the rising star of the British media right now, Benedict Cumberbatch (Sherlock, Star Trek Into Darkness). It’ll be nice for Sherlock costars to share the big screen together (kind of).
I thought An Unexpected Journey relied too heavily on CGI, losing some of the physical realism of the Lord of the Rings films. The trailer for Desolation of Smaug looks identical. The combat, the sweeping cameras, the completely-CGI villains… It looks overly produced. It’ll be consistent with An Unexpected Journey but consider me a purist. I know it’ll be entertaining and I expect for it to be mindblowingly awesome, but visual effects is my number one concern. It looks to me like a cutscene from a video game.
So when December rolls around, we’ll see if the final product can deliver. I hope it does.
What’d you think of the trailer? Did it get you pumped?