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The first proper look at The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug is here, and there's a whole lot of new stuff to see, from the return of familiar faces (hey there, Legolas!) to new characters like Bard the Bowman to fireballs straight from a dragon's mouth. But for my money the best thing in there is what you hear, near the end when Benedict Cumberbatch's Smaug starts threatening Bilbo, and the deep bass of that dragon voice… we all figured Cumberbatch's voice was perfect for a dragon, but this might be even more perfect than I imagined.
Yes, sure, The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey was a bit of a snooze, more about dwarf songs and Bilbo's reluctance to go on an adventure than the actual adventure itself, and only picking up when Gollum made that cameo appearance in the cave (if only Peter Jackson were a little less attached to the books and could work Gollum into the rest of the films too). But The Desolation Of Smaug has a lot more action going for it, picking up as Bilbo and the band of dwarves get close to and then arrive at Smaug's lair, and getting into the longstanding rivalry between the dwarves and the elves, as hinted at in the very beginning of An Unexpected Journey, in a lengthy prologue that came before the lengthy dinner scene, so you've probably forgotten it by now.
The sight of Lee Pace as the smirking, fey elf leader Thranduil, and of Luke Evans as the rugged and angry Bard the Bowman, promises some fresh blood being brought into the story, and at least Evangeline Lilly will break up the sausage fest as the brand new elf character Tauriel (though her budding romance with Legolas seems like one hell of a digression). No, we may not get The Two Towers with this second of three Hobbit films, but if you're not at least a little curious to see Benedict Cumberbatch breathe fire, you're out of your mind.
The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug comes to theaters on December 13. Check out the film's first trailer below: