Giant spiders, Legolas, and a dragon await in ‘The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug’ trailer

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Another Peter Jackson-conceived treatment of J.R.R. Tolkien’s Middle-earth comes to theaters on December 13, 2013, and the latest trailer for The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug celebrates this fact with serious stares and dragon fire. Freeze framers have a lot to dig through in this one. The giant spiders of Mirkwood are there; an orc army is present; Gandalf swings his big stick; even Legolas is in it, for some reason; and of course, fleeting glimpses of the great dragon Smaug himself, voiced by Star Trek Into Darknessgaping spoiler alert, Benedict Cumberbatch.

The Desolation of Smaug is the second of three movies adapted roughly from Tolkien’s book, The Hobbit, by director Peter Jackson and his co-writers Fran Walsh (also his wife), Philippa Boyens, and Guillermo del Toro. It was preceded in 2012 by The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey and will be followed in 2014 by The Hobbit: There And Back Again. Much like Jackson’s The Lord of the Rings trilogy, the latest three were shot concurrently with one another in Middle-earth’s real world doppleganger, New Zealand.

Tolkien’s book is only a partial source for Jackson’s take, with the rest informed by author’s notes and appendices relating to plot threads that are only briefly touched on. Ideas pulled from the reference materials are woven in alongside narrative extrapolations from The Lord of the Rings film trilogy. In truth, it’s probably best if you don’t spend a bunch of time trying to figure out all the connections. Jackson is tuned into his creation in a way that few other filmmakers could manage, and while his big screen efforts aren’t completely flawless, they are nothing if not faithful in spirit. The Desolation of Smaug certainly seems to hit the right beats based on what we’re seeing in this trailer. Check it out below.