The Lord of the Rings series is one of the most successful franchises in movie history, and if the first teaser trailer for The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey is any indication, the two-part return to Middle Earth is going to be both a commercial success and a fantasy geek's dream.
Watch the trailer for yourself below and check out Jackson's first video blog from the set. We at IBTimes have taken the time and energy to pore through every aspect of this trailer, teasing out whatever details we can without spoiling any of the surprises.
From the return of such classic characters as Gandalf (Ian McKellan) and Galadriel (Cate Blanchett) to the triumphant appearance of Tolkien's songs (an element lacking in the first three Lord of the Rings films), here's everything we know from the teaser trailer, and other details we've picked up about the Hobbit movie so far.
7. Tolkien's Music Will No Longer Play Second Fiddle
The Lord of the Rings trilogy worked in a bit of the author's songs from Middle Earth, but the trailer for The Hobbit has one of his classic songs at the very beginning. The song the dwarves sing in the trailer is Misty Mountains, referencing the golden treasure they seek to claim and the dragon they must fight in order to get it.
For those who are familiar with Biblo Baggins' tale, the sound of Peter Jackson's actors singing We must away ere break of day... is sure to send chills down their spines, but this song also seems to indicate that LOTR fans will get a lot more of Tolkien's songs in the upcoming movies.
6.Familiar Faces... Including Some Non-Hobbit Ones
Ian McKellan as Gandalf, Hugo Weaving as Elrond... ... and Elijah Wood as Frodo? Yes, the star of The Lord of the Rings will also make an appearance in the two Hobbit movies, and word has it we'll see Legolas (Orlando Bloom) along Saruman (Christopher Lee) in the films as well.
The trailer also gives us several glimpses of Galadriel, who doesn't appear at all in the book version of The Hobbit. Which leads us to our next point...
5. New Material Won't Just Be in Second Hobbit Movie
If you've gotten a chance to see video blogs from the Hobbit films (see the first clip below), you know that the Peter Jackson adaptations will include a lot of new material not included in the original book, involving Gandalf, Galadriel and some of the other elves and wizards battling a dark power on the rise in Mirkwood (likely involving the Necromancer, seen in person for the first time).
Before this teaser trailer, however, some Tolkien fans assumed the new material would be confined to the second movie, perhaps as a bridge between the Hobbit story and the mythos of Lord of the Rings. The teaser trailer, however, indicates that the Galadriel storyline will begin right off the bat.
Of course, there's always a chance that Peter Jackson is showing clips from both movies in this first trailer, so keep an eye out for Galadriel in the months to come.
4. Gollum's Cave Will Be Lit
Fans of the Lord of the Rings movies who've seen the first Hobbit trailer were thrilled to see Gollum (Andy Serkis) make an appearance (albeit in silhouette) along with his precious ring.
Those who've read the books are less surprised to see Gollum make a return appearance (he is, after all, a main character in Tolkien's book), but Tolkien-Jackson geeks can set their minds at ease on another score: despite the book describing Gollum's cave as ink-black, the audience can see everything that's going on in Smeagol's lair.
For purists, this may actually be a point of contention, since Bilbo's blindness is what makes the scene in the book so creepy, but we'd rather imagine Mr. Baggins is in darkness and be able to see the cave in more detail.
3. We Are Very Much Back in Middle Earth
For anyone worried that putting The Hobbit in 3D might mean changes to the Middle Earth landscape, please rest assured: Middle Earth is still very much Middle Earth. Watching Bilbo Baggins in Hobbiton and getting lost in Gandalf's bushy beard, it's easy to feel as though LOTR never ended, and it's very apparent that for Jackson and Co., it never did.
Ian Holm even makes an appearance in the trailer as an older Bilbo, to help ease us into the transition of Martin Freeman as the young hobbit.Not that we need it, because...
4. Martin Freeman is Amazing
Freeman was great even in photos from the set, and viewers got some glimpses of the actor in costume from Jackson's video blogs, but seeing him in action is something else entirely.
Freeman, 39, joined the team with Jackson's full approval (Martin... is our Bilbo, the director told The LA Times), and from the bits we see of him in the trailer, it's easy to see why. This young hobbit is a revelation, combining the comic timing he picked up on The Office with the affable naivete and unexpected bravery that has come to define Bilbo's character.
Most importantly, he doesn't come off as just another Frodo, embodying the Baggins spirit many decades before his nephew arrives on the scene.
3. Where's Smaug?
This is more about what we don't see in the trailer: namely, the dragon guarding the gold within the Misty Mountains. Smaug is the central villain of The Hobbit, though that distinction may be undercut by the new material Jackson has added, but this first trailer doesn't show him at all.
Then again, we also don't see any orcs, wargs or giant spiders in this trailer, and both fans of the LOTR movies and those who've read the books know that their appearance is only a question of time.
To tide Hobbit fans over, some months ago Jackson announced that Smaug's computer-animated self would be voiced by Benedict Cumberbatch. For those of you who don't know the actor, he's Sherlock Holmes to Martin Freeman's Watson in BBC's TV series Sherlock. Which means fans of both shows can spend the Hobbit movie imagining Bilbo the hobbit and Smaug the dragon trekking across Middle earth as crime fighters. You're welcome.
2. The Dwarves Are a Lot More 'Dwarfish' On Screen
Sure, there's some of the inevitable comic relief, like poor Bombur breaking a table, but after Gimli getting something of a short shrift in the Lord of the Rings trilogy, it's nice to see the dwarves has some serious moments, especially during the Misty Mountains song and in the brief glimpses of them in battle action.
And while some of the dwarves had rather unusual hair and costumes in the posters, it seems to work on screen, with the actors looking both slightly menacing and slightly comic by turns. Thorin Oakenshield (Richard Armitage) is especially convincing. He has the arrogant majesty of a deposed king and the underlying steeliness of the dwarves Tolkien fans know.
1. The Dark Times Are Back
I cannot guarantee your safety, Thorin murmurs to Gandalf, before adding, nor will I be responsible for his [Bilbo's] fate. That pretty much sets the tone for this trailer, which despite some (in our opinion slightly uneven) moments of dwarfish humor has a very dark, spooky and deliciously Middle Earth tone.
Below, watch the first trailer for Peter Jackson's The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, and watch the first of the director's video blogs from the Hobbit set.
The Hobbit Trailer in HD:
The Hobbit: Peter's Jackson's First Video Blog from the Set.