Welcome to “Trailer Tuesday” where I talk about trailers for upcoming movies.
I’ve always felt like the second full trailer is always the hardest one for a film to pull off. Teaser trailers are pretty easy, offering just a glimpse to get people talking, while the first full trailer is generally full of entirely new footage that will excite audiences. But the second trailer often reuses much of the footage from the first trailer, hitting the same story beats as its predecessor with little new to add. Often a second trailer will feature a few, specific revelations, trying to keep interest in the film high and promote continued discussion. We saw the first trailer for The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug a while back, and now we’re presented with the second. Take a look below and read on for my thoughts:
We open where the previous trailer left off, with Bilbo’s first encounter with the great dragon Smaug. Bilbo is playing up the flattery card despite his fear, trying to engage with “Smaug, the stupendous.” Among the ensuing short clips and narration, we get an extra emphasis on Legolas and Tauriel, the elves who were added to the story by Peter Jackson. Tauriel seems to be playing the part of Legolas’ conscience, telling him that the events unfolding are larger than he imagines. There’s also a romantic angle, with perhaps a forbidden romance between the two. Thranduil, Legolas’ father, certainly sounds like he wants to keep them apart.
It remains to be seen how much of a role these two elves will play in the film. It’s possible the trailer is playing up their role because Legolas is a familiar face to those who saw the Lord of the Rings films (in other words, everyone), but it could be that they will have a substantial part to play in this middle film. Much like The Two Towers, this middle movie will take a few big events from the book and greatly expand upon them using supplemental material in order to flesh out a full film. I don’t have a problem with this, as The Two Towers is my favorite of the Lord of the Rings movies, but at this point I would say I’m more curious than excited to see how Jackson pulls it off.
One of the highlights of the trailer is that Luke Evans’ Bard getting more screentime. He seems to be giving an impassioned speech to the citizens of Lake-town, standing in opposition to our hero Thorin. We also get a cool bit where Bilbo seems on the verge of revealing the ring to Gandalf, but then thinks better of it. I really hope they find a way to use the line from the 1977 Rankin/Bass animated version, where Gandalf tells Bilbo, “That has the ring of truth to it.” We get a brief bit of Gandalf preparing for his battle with the Necromancer, but that’s clearly not the focus of this trailer. Lastly, we get a cool moment when Balin steps up to defend Bilbo to Thorin, chiding him for continuing to call Bilbo “The Burglar”.
But the part that has everyone talking is the first couple of lines we hear from Benedict Cumberbatch as Smaug. “Well, thief, where are you? Come now, don’t be shy. Step into the light.” It’s the audio equivalent of the last second reveal of Smaug’s head in the previous trailer. But while the first glimpse of Smaug got me excited, I just can’t get as riled up by this brief clip of dialogue. I’m not much of a Cumberbatch fan, so that probably doesn’t help, but to me the look is far more important than the voice. I’m sure Cumberbatch will do well, as he’s been generally good in everything I’ve seen him in (except, perhaps, Star Trek Into Darkness, though I don’t blame him for that), so I’m not concerned. In fact, I would have been more excited to get a taste of his performance as the Necromancer than to get this tease of Smaug.
In the end, I have to say I felt a bit underwhelmed by this second trailer. As I said, it’s one of the most difficult aspects of film promotion to pull off. And I’m still extremely excited for the film. I just feel like this trailer rehashed so much of the previous one, filling it with either the same or slightly different glimpses of the same action beats we saw before: barrels, spiders and Beorn. I would have rather seen more of Gandalf and his quest, which promises to be one of the more interesting sides to the film, instead of seeing more of the same. It’s not a bad trailer, and had I not seen its predecessor, I would have nothing to complain about. But I’ve watched that trailer enough that very little this time out surprised me. If they’re going to do more than one trailer, I want to see a different focus, if not in plot at least in tone. I still can’t wait for The Desolation of Smaug, but this trailer did little to increase my enthusiasm.
What do you think? How did this trailer compare to the first one for you? Were you excited to hear Cumberbatch’s voice as Smaug? Do you like how much Legolas and Tauriel are being featured? Am I crazy for being underwhelmed? Let me know in the comments!