Although three minutes of the new footage is already online, those attending today’s fan event for Peter Jackson’s The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug were treated to a theater-only extended preview that ran nearly 20 minutes. ComingSoon.net was in attendance at the Los Angeles event and, while Jackson asked (via video introduction) that we not delve too much into details, here are a few impressions we had about what we saw.
There’s mention made in Jackson’s latest video diary that he himself is an arachnophobe and that definitely informs the way he’s depicting Bilbo and the Dwarves’ encounter with the spiders of Mirkwood. These guys look and move so realistically that it was very easy to tell from their squirming which audience members share Jackson’s phobia. What’s more, Tolkien fans should be delighted to hear that Jackson has found a very clever trick (which we won’t spoil) to let the spiders retain their personalities from the book.
Similarly moody was a look at Lake Town later on in the footage as Bilbo and company are carried through misty waters on a boat helmed by Luke Evans’ Bard. The newly appearing character, it seems, will have his introduction to the story a bit earlier than in the novel and, for whatever reasons, there seems to be no love lost between him and the Dwarves. There’s no word yet on whether we’ll actually see one become a character as in the book, but the scene features a second appearance (following the final shot of the first film) of Bard’s would-be winged friend, the Thrush.
One of the scenes showcased was between Lee Pace’s Elf King Thranduil, Orlando Bloom’s returning Legolas and an all-new character, Evangeline Lily’s Tauriel. Not only does Lily seem intent on winning the hearts and minds of Tolkien fandom (check her out during the fan event or read our on set interview), but Jackson’s sense of character is strong and no one shouldn’t be surprised if Tauriel emerges a very, very popular character in fandom.
The biggest tease remains the film’s titular dragon. Although we did get an extended look at Bilbo exploring Smaug’s very, very large hoard (he’s got Scrooge McDuck beat by a mile), we only got a few flashes of the character himself and barely a look at what subtleties Benedict Cumberbatch will be bringing to the performance. It’s a good bet that, as happened with Gollum back when The Two Towers opened, Jackson has a visual effects ace up his sleeve. We’ve got just over a month before we know for sure.
The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug hits theaters December 13.