×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

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.

Popular on Variety

More Film

  • Ad Astra Box Office

    Box Office Battle: 'Ad Astra' Takes on 'Rambo: Last Blood' and 'Downton Abbey'

    “Hustlers” and “Good Boys” proved that even in the age of Marvel dominance and remake mania, movies that don’t exist within an established franchise can still be box office draws. Can “Ad Astra” continue that trend? The space drama — starring Brad Pitt and directed by James Gray — arrives on the big screen this [...]

  • Harvey Weinstein Accuser Lucia Evans Breaks

    Harvey Weinstein Accuser Lucia Evans Breaks Silence After D.A. Dropped Charge

    Lucia Evans gave a wrenching account on Tuesday of her efforts to hold Harvey Weinstein responsible for sexual assault, saying she felt betrayed after the Manhattan D.A.’s office dropped her allegations last year. Evans spoke to Variety after giving a speech at a conference on influencer fraud in Manhattan, making her first public comments on [...]

  • Ad Astra

    How 'Ad Astra' Production Crew Created Authentic Look for Brad Pitt Space Drama

    In “Ad Astra,” Brad Pitt’s astronaut Roy McBride crosses the solar system to find and confront his long-lost father, requiring the movie crew to create an authentic-looking future that conveys the theme of traveling long distances to learn the lesson that it’s where you started from that has the most value. “Visually, the aim was [...]

  • Nahnatchka Khan'Always Be My Maybe' film

    'Fresh Off the Boat' Creator Nahnatchka Khan Signs First-Look Deal With Netflix

    Netflix has signed “Fresh Off the Boat” creator and executive producer Nahnatchka Khan to an exclusive multi-year first look deal for feature films. Khan made her feature film directorial debut with “Always Be My Maybe” starring Ali Wong and Randall Park. The romantic comedy premiered on Netflix in May and was seen by 32 million [...]

  • The Mover

    Latvia, Kyrgyzstan, Montenegro, Costa Rica Announce Oscar Contenders

    Latvia, Kyrgyzstan, Montenegro and Costa Rica are the latest countries to announce their entries for the newly rebranded International Feature Film award at the 92nd Academy Awards. All four countries are seeking their first Oscar nomination in what was formerly known as the foreign-language film category. Latvia has selected Holocaust drama “The Mover” (pictured) as [...]

  • The Sky Is Pink

    Toronto Film Review: 'The Sky is Pink'

    Shonali Bose’s much-laureled 2014 “Margarita with a Straw” was a film whose presentation of a cerebral palsy-afflicted heroine sidestepped all the usual hand-wringing inspirational clichés of disability portrayal, making her story all the more enlightening and affecting. It is particularly disappointing, then, that the director’s followup should approach another tale of genetic infirmity with all [...]

  • Jodie Turner-SmithVariety Studio Comic-Con, Day 1,

    'Queen and Slim' Star Jodie Turner-Smith Joins Michael B. Jordan in 'Without Remorse' (EXCLUSIVE)

    After she plays the Bonnie to Daniel Kaluuya’s Clyde in Universal’s romantic thriller “Queen and Slim,” actress Jodie Turner-Smith will join Michael B. Jordan in Paramount’s adaptation of Tom Clancy’s “Without Remorse.” Turner-Smith will play Karen Greer in the movie. As recently announced, Jamie Bell will also co-star as Robert Ritter, the deputy director of [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content