Preview: First trailer for 'The Desolation of Smaug'

Last December, Peter Jackson took audiences barrelling back into Middle Earth just under a decade after the conclusion of his widely adored The Lord of the Rings trilogy. With J.R.R. Tolkien's original novel as its source text, the Kiwi's new prequel trilogy tracks the adventures of Bilbo Baggins and kicked off with The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey (2012). Overlong and a little indulgent it may well have been, but it could easily be forgiven thanks to a return to The Shire and familiar faces steering the ship. It was also general accepted that things would doubtless ramp up in the next instalment, The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug (2013) which this week unleashed a first poster and teaser trailer.

The hopes of many fans are placed upon the scaly shoulders of a most specially greedy, strong and wicked wyrm; the eponymous Smaug the Magnificent. Voiced by geek idol Benedict Cumberbatch, the great dragon is the book's central antagonist, and the hoarder of gold whose lair Bilbo (Martin Freeman) and the dwarves are looking to raid. After a minuscule tease at the end of the first film, this one will probably live or die by how well he has been realised and this initial trailer provides a slightly more revealing glimpse.

Elsewhere, there is action in the form of elves trying to shoot dwarves in barrels. Those that have knowledge of the book will be familiar with this aspect of the tale, though it seems that the elvish inhabitants of Mirkwood may play a larger role in the cinematic version of this part of the story. TLotR veteran Legolas (Orlando Bloom) returns to the fray and is perhaps inspired to his later actions (in the previous trilogy) by Tauriel (Evangeline Lilly). First glimpses are also afforded to Bard the Bowman (Luke Evans), and Thranduil the Elvenking (Lee Pace) as well as the return of characters from the previous outing. Once again joining the company of dwarves and Gandalf (Ian McKellen) are Radagast the Brown (Sylvester McCoy) and antagonist Azog (Mannu Bennett).

Fans will have to remain patient for introduction to Stephen Fry as the Master of Lake-Town, Beorn the skinchanger and Smaug's dulcet tones. There will, naturally, be further trailers and online featurettes throughout the ensuing months, but the teaser - which can be found below - provides an enticing glance at what Jackson and partner Fran Walsh have in store for Bilbo & co on this leg of their journey. Undoubtedly, The Desolation of Smaug will have fans salivating for that December release date: "That, my lad, was a dragon…"

The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug is released in UK cinemas on13 December, 2013.

Ben Nicholson

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