Director Peter Jackson led a group of critics on a barefoot tour of his film editing studio in New Zealand last weekend, sharing with them an advance look at some footage from the second instalment in his Hobbit trilogy, The Desolation of Smaug. The film isn’t due out until December 2013 but the critics and reporters who took the tour have reported back with approximately eleventy-one things to tell us about Jackson’s new take on Tolkien.
The director, who co-hosted the tour with An Unexpected Journey‘s Nori (actor Jed Brophy), introduced his guests to a few of the film’s new characters like the elfin Tauriel (a character not found in J.R.R. Tolkien’s books, but played by Lost‘s Evangeline Lilly in the movie) and the grating, comb-over-sporting Master of Laketown (played by Stephen Fry who voiced the Cheshire Cat in Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland). There was also a glimpse of Welsh actor Luke Evans’ Bard the Bowman character, who Jackson calls “Robin Hood-ish”. Bowman, says the director, will keep the audience guessing as to whether “he’s a good or bad guy” (unless, of course, they’ve read Tolkien’s book, or the Wikipedia entry for it).
Jackson told his guests that the scene he’s most enthusiastic about is the one where Bilbo faces off with Benedict Cumberbatch’s Smaug: “It is probably the highlight of this movie. It’s such an iconic Tolkien scene,” said the director, who decided against giving the reporters even a tiny peek at the dragon but promised that he’d have a big role to play. Jackson did preview footage of the Tolkien-created worlds of Rivendell, Laketown, and Mirkwood, home to Orlando Bloom’s Legolas and his father, the Elvenking of the Wooded Realm of Northern Mirkwood. A reporter from The Guardian describes Mirkwood as” a less sparkly take on Lothlorien,” writing that “gnarly trees form passageways through the sky, the foliage dark and twisted to reflect the lesser status of the pointy-eared people who live there and the presence of the evil Necromancer in the nearby tower of Dol Guldur.”
Audiences will get their first look at a trailer for The Desolation of Smaug this summer, perhaps, hinted Jackson, at the screening of a certain upcoming superhero movie.