Release Date: December 13
Director: Peter Jackson
Rating: Not Yet Rated
Our adventurers continue towards The Lonely Mountain, taking them on a path through giant-spider-filled forests, the sylvan kingdom of the Wood Elves, to a human-inhabited city on the border of their destination besieged by a gold-hoarding giant fire-spewing dragon.
What We Know:
After being safely delivered away from an Orc ambush, Bilbo Baggins (Martin Freeman), Gandalf the Grey (Ian McKellen), and the company of 13 Dwarves led by Thorin Oakenshield (Richard Armitage) can now see their destination of The Lonely Mountain in their sights, but the adventure has only just begun. Thankfully, they come across a powerful new ally in a giant axe-wielding warrior named Beorn (Mikael Persbrandt). Hailing from an ancient race of shape-shifters, he uses that ability to transform into a vicious black bear. He's friendly, though, and provides them a much needed break, which they'll need for the next deadly leg of their journey.
However, as they continue on, Gandalf throws everyone a bit of a curveball when he abruptly ditches the group to tend to that whole "Necromancer" business down in the dark stronghold of Dol Guldur; a pressing matter after evidence has lead him to believe that a powerful force of evil has returned to Middle Earth. After dealing out some advice, he sends the group on their way.
Now without Gandalf's wisdom and guidance, Bilbo, Thorin, and the group must rely on their own instincts through the dark forests of Mirkwood, as they are chased by hordes of gorging giant spiders, only to be captured by the company of the Wood Elves under the rule of King Thranduil (Lee Pace), the elven sovereign father of Legolas (Orlando Bloom, reprising his role). The hospitality there, despite their almost angelic aesthetic, is equivalent to a shotgun-toting redneck who found whippersnappers on his property.
The journey will also lead the group to a human settlement near The Lonely Mountain called Laketown. Seeing as it's a vast city made primarily of wooden structures, you can imagine how apparent constant attacks from a huge flying fire-breathing dragon has proven to be problematic as their homes are burned and treasure plundered. There, however, better hospitality is found and the adventurers meet a sympathetic ear in Bard (Luke Evans), a prominent Laketown citizen who, despite his rightful royal lineage, chooses not to rule. (Gee, where have we heard that story before?) He's also a warrior and is known to be handy with a bow.
Eventually sent on their way and arriving at the secret door into The Lonely Mountain, the moment of truth arrives as the group send their contracted "burglar," Bilbo in to do his job, where, amongst a vast hoard of stolen treasures, he comes face to face with the bellicose beast himself, Smaug the Dragon (voiced by Benedict Cumberbatch, who will also voice The Necromancer). Bilbo may have a "magic ring," but helping Thorin and company reclaim this mountain is going to require a bit of ingenuity and a lot of luck.
Also on board the film, besides the returning cast of Dwarves, are the other confirmed additions of Stephen Fry as the "Master of Laketown" and Evangeline Lilly as radiantly-deadly Wood Elf, "Tauriel."
(Luke Evans as "Bard the Bowman" conferring with the returning Orlando Bloom as "Legolas.")
What We Expect:
The events of J.R.R. Tolkien's The Hobbit are well known to people who experienced the light read back in grade school, or even those who are familiar with Peter Jackson's The Lord of the Rings trilogy. However, despite the fact that most people are going into this film "knowing" to a certain degree what will happen, the style and pacing of these Hobbit films are still somewhat of a guess with the films now split into a proper trilogy, rather than their originally-designated two-film format.
However, this second entry may prove to be THE true test for the three-film formula. In essence, it's the point in the story where, freed from the constraints of exposition, the underlying narrative must take center stage and prove its worth. There will be no more distractions from bells and whistles like cockney-accented trolls, sack-chinned giant goblins, or even too many strolls down memory lane with Rings trilogy characters returning for tie-in scenes. It's make or break time for The Hobbit.
Much like we saw in the transition from The Fellowship of the Ring to The Two Towers, this film should also see a focus shift on some new players. Just as the introduction of King Theoden, Eowyn, and Faramir as point-of-view characters made the Rings sequels feel dramatically different from their first entry, we could see a similar strategy here. Newcomers like Beorn, Bard, and Tauriel could take center-stage and give the audience completely new perspectives.
Be sure to check out more of G4's 2013 movie previews throughout the month of January.