Preview Review: ‘The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug’ Trailer

There’s not much Hobbit in the teaser for “The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug.” Instead, this first appetite-whetter for Part Two of Peter Jackson’s epic J.R.R. Tolkien adaptation overflows with dwarfs, elves, assorted beasties and one very surly looking dragon (the Smaug of the film’s title).

Strategically timed six months before “The Desolation of Smaug’s” Dec. 13 release, the teaser debuted online on June 11, three days before auds can see it on the bigscreen attached to Warner Bros.’ “Man of Steel.” Watching the elegant, goosebump-inducing montage, you immediately realize how different the task of this two-minute teaser is from your average first-look trailer. Technically speaking, worldwide audiences have already witnessed a three-hour teaser for “The Desolation of Smaug” in the form of last year’s “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey.”

Therefore, this trailer’s job is less about offering a taste of what’s to come than assuring fans that the follow-up will feature more of what they liked about the billion-dollar-grossing ($303 million domestic) epic. With that in mind, it’s not such a surprise that Martin Freeman’s heroic little Hobbit gets elbowed aside for sweeping CG vistas (from mountain cities to underground caverns), earnest pronouncements from the hunkier characters (there’s Orlando Bloom’s Legolas debating whether to get involved) and action-oriented shots of the group beset by assorted spider, bear and Orc attacks.

The trailer dispenses with narration in favor of soundbites from the Elvenking (Lee Pace) and Gandalf (Ian McKellen), while subliminally trying to amp the excitement with three snippets of corny ad copy: “Beyond Darkness … Beyond Desolation … Lies the Greatest Danger of All” — a claim that would have better suited the last of the “Lord of the Rings” movies, as Smaug surely poses less threat than Sauron did. But then, that’s the paradox of this entire nine-hour project, as Warners once again tries to suggest that this companion trilogy (adapted from a single shorter book) rivals the earlier epic.

Still, this two-minute teaser goes a long way to repair the disappointment of “An Unexpected Journey,” ever-dwindling in our memories, as it intermingles familiar glimpses of the unique world Jackson created with fresh sights, stoking a collective sense of wonderment with Bilbo (Freeman) surrounded by a cloud of Blue Morpho-looking butterflies and anticipation with the newly awakened Smaug.

The trailer climaxes three-quarters in with a flurry of drawstring-pulling, ax-swinging, sword-wielding action — 10 seconds of clip-matching genius — then dips to black as a deep thunder rolls in the darkened theater. “Was that an earthquake?” one terrified dwarf asks. “That, my lad…” begins Balin (Ken Stott), lingering long enough for the camera to circle around for a trailer-perfect closeup, “…was a dragon.” It would have been a perfect place for this first teaser to end. Instead, the clip runs 20 more seconds, wrapping with two shots of boring old Bilbo trying to hide from Smaug … who looks like far less of an attraction than the preceding stretch of CG-enhanced fantasy footage.

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  1. Lizzie says:

    Smaug is less of an attraction than the CG scenery??? Well, now I know where I’ve been going wrong. Instead of enjoying the intricate plot and character developments of the first film, I should be admiring the enhanced look of New Zealand, aka. Middle-Earth. I’ll bear that in mind for when ‘Desolation of Smaug’ is finally in cinemas. I don’t believe a word of what this, err, ‘Senior Film Critic’ says. It’s the public’s opinion which really matters. If you just want to stare at mountain vistas etc. all day: go on holiday to New Zealand.
    The first Hobbit film was a delight, and the trailer for the second has only increased my anticipation and excitement for the next. Thoroughly cannot wait!

    The reason why: I’m going on an adventure!

  2. Billy says:

    Do you know the name of the song in the trailer ? And who’s the compositor, please ?

  3. Sigh. Again, this is not the expansion of a small book into three films. It is the adaptation of a small book *and* appendices covering decades of material in highly abbreviated form.
    “We got shipwrecked” is only three words. Is that too short for a movie?

  4. Clayton says:

    Ok i respect that everybody is titled to an opinion. The first one a disappointment?! How on what level? If you have ever read the books its mostly spot on. The first movie was a joy to watch, and next one will be too. Obviously the hobbit wasn’t that big of a disappointment referring to the sales it appears a great many people watched it and people dont watch poor movies.

  5. Wesley says:

    agreeing with the other comments. speak for yourself Peter. you and a few critics (who matter little when it comes to the public opinion of movies) may have been bored with the first movie. but i thought it certainly lived up and beyond what i wanted it to be. and i dont understand why people and writers of articles CONTINUE make remarks about Peter Jackson turning a little book into a three movie epic as if thats a bad thing. arent we all up to speed at this point in the game that it also contains an enormous amount of writings from the LOTR appendices which Tolkien wrote in order to connect the Hobbit to the LOTR? soooooo shouldnt that be an argument that is void at this point in time? this is the Hobbit that Tolkien wanted to go back and rewrite after he started on the LOTR trilogy. the sad fact is that we live in a country where people just like to find something to moan and groan about or their not happy. this next movie is going to be amazing. so looking forward to seeing the behind the scenes of what Tolkien had going on while Bilbo was on his adventure. and i hate to pop another of your bubbles. but at this point in Middle Earth history…Smaug WAS “the Greatest Danger of All” at that point considering that Sauron hadnt revealed himself. i know im sounding nerdy and over the top. but good lord…if your writing something for the public…how about doing some research.

  6. nalindra says:

    I absolutely loved the first hobbit it was fun,entertaining adventure film,something very different from LOTR but truly entertaining,can’t wait for the sequel because it seems to get bigger & better,I always loved the fantasy world of Tolkien and peter jackson is just amazing with it. loved the lonely mountain theme & song as well.

  7. John Fisher says:

    I found the first Hobbit film to be a complete bore which is surprising because the Lord of the Rings series are some of my all time favorite films. CGI to the max and pointless wandering for three hours was almost pure torture to watch. This trailer makes the second film like look more of the same but I hope that I am proved wrong I just think that The Hobbit could have been made into a fantastic single film instead of three. The Hobbit book is shorter than any of The Lord of the Rings books so I still feel like it’s just greed.

  8. Virginia says:

    The Hobbit isn’t dwindling in MY memory, and evidently not in the minds of thousands given the plethora of websites, artwork, online bickering and celebration of the film and characters – and the feverish excitement for the next installment. For many reasons I like it better, and will re-watch more often, than LOTR. As for this DOS trailer, think certain CGI shots need some work and it’s too heavily loaded with elves in the trailer, but it’s early yet. The release of DOS can’t happen fast enough for us Hobbit and Dwarve-deprived fans. BTW, the response of “official” critics to The Hobbit (and most likely to DOS) mystifies me as much as the positive response by official critics did to “Kingdom of the Crystal Skull” which to me seemed to land with a leaden thud – yet “official” critics seemed to love it and view it with rose-colored glasses. That is something I will never understand and when I pretty much threw in the towel on “official” critics.
    I.Just.Don’t.Get.It.

    Peter Jackson has pulled off the impossible with LOTR and now the Hobbit, and it’s beyond anything I could have imagined. Can’t wait for the extended version of the Hobbit, either.

  9. Contrary to popular , critic, belief, most people were not disappointed by The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey. People who didn’t go in convinced that the book & additional sources couldn’t sustain 3 fillms, and hence spent more time looking for evidence of this, that just enjoying the film, found it just as entertaining, if lighter, as the Rings films.

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