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WATCH: The action-packed trailer for The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug
The second film in the Hobbit trilogy sees Bilbo Baggins draw perilously close to his confrontation with a fearsome dragon
 

Are audiences ready for yet another trip to Middle-Earth? That's the key question for The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, the upcoming sequel to The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, which hit theaters less than a year ago. Though the first Hobbit film grossed over a billion dollars worldwide, it faced a relatively tepid reception from critics, earning just 65 percent positive reviews on Rotten Tomatoes — a far cry from the three films in the Lord of the Rings trilogy, which all scored in the mid-90s.

The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug picks up where An Unexpected Journey left off, as Bilbo Baggins, Gandalf the Grey, and a host of dwarves march toward the hideaway of the fire-breathing dragon Smaug, who has stolen the dwarves' gold. In addition to the returning faces from the first Hobbit film, The Desolation of Smaug introduces several new characters — including Lost's Evangeline Lilly as an Elven warrior named Tauriel.

Will the addition of new characters — and a storyline that promises some actual forward momentum — help The Desolation of Smaug earn back some of the critical goodwill that was lost with An Unexpected Journey? We'll find out when The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug hits theaters in December.

 
Scott Meslow is the entertainment editor for TheWeek.com. He has written about film and television at publications including The AtlanticPOLITICO Magazine, and Vulture.

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