Preview: Desolation of Smaug

While I didn’t have quite the same reaction as Fili and Kili from Happy Hobbit, I did have to pick my jaw up from the floor. Let’s not kid ourselves. New Zealand scenery is breathtaking. Any excuse to see more of it is a good excuse. The Hobbit cinematographers deserve every cent they get, especially from what we see in this trailer. Dwarves climbing the dwarf statues outside Erebor? All the scenes above and within Mirkwood?

Speaking of Mirkwood, it’s clear that the primary focus of Desolation of Smaug will be on the elves of Mirkwood. It’s also obvious that Desolation of Smaug will pick up where An Unexpected Journey left off. I am most excited to see Beorn, who helps the dwarves prepare to enter Mirkwood forest. Gandalf doesn’t go with them into Mirkwood. In the book, it isn’t clear why, but in the movie, we see that he is investigating Dol Guldur, the old fortress in Mirkwood, with Radagast. The reason we are able to see these additional scenes in the movie—the scenes that are not found in The Hobbit novel—is because they are referenced in the appendices. I am totally supportive of using Tolkien’s source material, even if it’s from the appendices and not the novel.

But fabricating entirely new characters?

The elf Tauriel, featured heavily in this trailer, is not a character written by Tolkien. She is also the only main female character in this upcoming movie. In An Unexpected Journey, we have a brief appearance from Galadriel. However, if it weren’t for the addition of the White Council scene from the appendices to that film, we wouldn’t have seen her at all. In Fellowship of the Ring, we see Arwen and Galadriel. In Two Towers, we see Eowyn, and briefly we see Galadriel and Arwen. In Return of the King, we see all three during the course of the film.

My point? Female characters are few and far between in Tolkienverse. If Peter Jackson (director, and one of the screenwriters and producers) had sought only to make a true-to-novel adaptation with no additional source material from the appendices or new (completely fabricated) characters, the movie would have had a male-only cast. (Also, it would have been only one movie!) Some have even gone so far as to say that J. R. R. Tolkien was a sexist. However, some have turned that around and said that the strength and courage within the character Eowyn, who destroyed the Witch-King of Angmar because she was not a man, totally makes up for the lack of female characters otherwise.

In short, I am very excited to see what Tauriel, played by Evangeline Lilly, will bring to The Hobbit. I am also excited to see Legolas again, reprised by Orlando Bloom, and his father Thranduil, played by Lee Pace. I wonder how much screen time Gloin and Legolas will have together, seeing as Legolas later becomes close friends with Gloin’s son Gimli in the Lord of the Rings series. However, it is very clear from this trailer that the relations between the elves and the dwarves are very tense, especially where Legolas is concerned, given his line “Do not think I won’t kill you, dwarf.”

I find this particularly interesting, especially since a) Legolas doesn’t seem to harbor as intense hatred towards the dwarves in the Lord of the Rings trilogy, and b) it was Thranduil who started this whole feud between the races in the first place by not coming to the dwarves’ aid when Smaug laid claim to Erebor. I can completely understand the dwarves’, especially Thorin’s, disdain toward the elves, but what have the dwarves done to the elves to deserve such hatred in return? I’d like to see those reasons expanded a bit more thoroughly in the next film.

Apart from these thoughts, I am also very excited to see Desolation of Smaug because of all the jumping and pulling back arrows that the elves appear to be so adept at doing. Also the barrel scene. Also Bard the bowman, played by Luke Evans. Also Lake-town (Esgaroth). And the Master of Lake-Town, played by Stephen Fry. ALSO, BILBO AND SMAUG. Alright, fine. I’m excited to see ALL THE THINGS.

What are you most excited to see? Do you agree with Jackson’s addition of Tauriel? Sound off in the comments.

Desolation of Smaug will be in theaters on December 13th.