Sep 20 2012, 5:21pm
For the first half or so of the trailer, you are in the shire, with its trimmed hedges. The dwarves come along with a completely-different-from-hobbit rambunctiousness that really catches the mood of both the book and what I would like to see. The head-butt is a wonderful addition. Not mentioned in the book, but just the kind of thing that would make Bilbo wonder, "why would anyone headbutt another person?" and stand there in stunned silence at the subjective stupidity of the act. Because the hobbit has plenty of little touches like that where a sensible hobbit just would not condone certain activities, I think it is spot-on.
The dwarves are in a way more varied than humanity because they have the added benefit of inhuman, but still dwarvish (in my mind), characteristics. One is hard of hearing, one is hard of, well, thinking. You have the old fatherly sort, the young idealistic, ... I really like how the dwarves are not cookie cutter images. This is actually also a welcome deviation from the book. Using just the book, tell me the difference between Ori and Nori. Now I see it. I don't know if they will make Dori the strongest (he doesn't look strongest to me), but there are now so many visual cues, as well as manners of speaking, that distinguish these dwarves from one another. I would have liked some longer beards (at least I think I would have), but over all, I am quite pleased. I particularly like Balin. We also get nothing like the tone of his in the book (though he is from the narrator's perspective, which is Bilbo many years later I think, one of those who looks most kindly on hobbit).
I liked Rivendell just fine. The harps in the back give the feel of a tra-la-lilly without actually having to listen to it. The narrator mentioned that the elves actually seem foolish to some. I don't want to see the elves act in a manner that would seem foolish to some. I don't think it will translate well to the screen. I believe the tone of Elrond is such that there is no great concern for this. The way Elrond and Thorin speak to one another is spot-on what I pictured, with a bit of impatience and lack of trust throughout.
Then we get to goblin town, with the wonderful touches placing bones here and there and making it look like a cave, but as dirty a cave as you might expect. Having done a little spelunking in my day, I really liked the way they made the cave feels like it is underground, but had more character than the usual cavern. Not to say I don't think plain old caves are anything other than awe-inspiring, but it will not translate to the screen. You need to bones laying around and the old-looking platforms to really get it right.
The landscapes, well, we all know about those. Stunning.
The trolls are a little meh, but they had to look like the Cave Trolls of LOTR trilogy. I pictured them as more human-looking when reading the book; so I think it is just a matter of taste. They move quite well. The camp, the little I could see by still-framing the HD version of the trailer, looks nice and littered, like I would expect. On the plus side, the dwarves charging out to rescue Bilbo (together) feels more satisfying than them stumbling into the troll camp two at a time to be conveniently stuffed into sacks. There was a hint in the book about a couple of dwarves making an "impression" on the trolls in the form of painful, but not life-threatening wounds. However, over-all the dwarves seemed to act kind of stupid. I am glad to see hints of them going down with more purpose and a bit more of a fight.
The animals are amazing. On still-frame, I defy anyone to point out how the hedgehog or hare looks any different than a real hedgehog or hare. The only way to tell that there is CGI there is to realize that hedgehogs cannot be trained to do what that hedgehog does (and hares don't pull sleds). If that kind of CGI doesn't impress, you probably don't like things in real life that are unbelievable, like moon walks (hoax!) and such. Flawlessly rendered.
I adore the elves, Galadriel and Elrond. It is amazing to me the power they exude without any special effects. I think Sir Ian is showing his age a bit because he had the same power in the first film, but is somewhat diminished in this one. He is still awesome, though.
Nice touch having Bifur awake and playing with a toy when the goblins ambush the party. I thought it was kind of cute.
Were those stone giants a GDT design?