The second film in The Hobbit franchise The Desolation of Smaug has a brand new trailer, which sees the Elves and the Dwarves reluctantly unite, Bilbo Baggins captured by The Ring's power and the terrifying Smaug breath fire. The action packed movie is set for for a Christmas time release but you can catch a glimpse of the fantasy epic right now. 

Ian McKellen Desolation of SmaugIan McKellen As Gandalf In The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug

In The Desolation of Smaug we re-join Bilbo Baggins (Martin Freeman) and his trials & tribulations alongside the Wizard Gandalf (Ian McKellen) and thirteen Dwarves, led by Thorin Oakenshield (Richard Armitage) on the marathon quest to reclaim the lost Dwarf Kingdom of Erebor.

In the trailer we see Bilbo lying to Gandalf about laying his hands on the ring. "I found something in The Goblin Tunnels," says the hobbit to the wizard. "What did you find," asks Gandolf. "My courage," replied Bilbo. We know by his reaction to the ring, though, that he'll need more than courage to escape what is to come. 

Benedict Cumberbatch exerts his oral powers once more as the evil Smaug. He's managed to give cadence to some of cinema's most evil beings of late - most notably as the villainous Khan (sort of) in Star Trek - but his vocal chords have not been employed in such a low register before, culminating in a genuinely harrowing boom as the dragon rumbles. 

Evangeline Lilly Orlando BloomEvangeline Lilly [L] as Tauriel and Orlando Bloom [R] as Legolas

We actually got to see a fair amount of Smaugh in the previous trailer compared to this one, but hearing that deep, thunderous voice is a far more powerful prospect. 

We should also see the relationship between Legolas (played once again by Orlando Bloom) and Tauriel (Evengeline Lilly) blossom. "Legolas has grown very fond of you, do not give him hope where there is none," says Thranduil. This suggests they'll either fall for each other in the third film, or cut things off in Desolation. Peter Jackson has suggested in the past that their would be no romantic connection between the two - has he changed his mind?

Martin FreemanMartin Freeman as Bilbo Baggins in 'The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug'

While The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey was certainly a financial success, bringing in over $1b world worldwide, it was received in a tepid manner by the critics, who had plenty to pick at when it came to writing their reviews. 

It settled on 65% on Rotten Tomatoes with many critics citing the lengthy run time, intertwining and oft-irrelevant plot strands and style reining over substance. Of course, there lay in dormant a drove of Lord of The Rings fans to drive this film to be fiscally economic. 

In fact, The Lord of The Rings films made just over $1b in America alone, achieving $3b on a collective, worldwide scale. The unadjusted figures, according to Box Office Mojo, show that the first Lord of The Rings film, The Fellowship of The Ring, was outgunned by An Unexpected Journey, with the Hobbit film gleaning $147m more than the original in its parent trilogy. 

orlando BloomOrlando Bloom as Legolas in The Desolation of Smaug

But The Desolation of Smaug isn't thought to be relying on a dedicated and pre-existing fan base to succeed. Having learned from some of his mistakes in the first film, director Peter Jackson has faced us with an altogether simpler affair this time - more focussed on visceral action thrills and, to put it simply, scary dragons. 

"It is only at the end of a shoot that you finally get the chance to sit down and have a look at the film you have made. Recently [co-writers Fran Walsh, Philippa Boyens] and I did just this when we watched for the first time an early cut of the first [Hobbit] movie - and a large chunk of the second," said Jackson in a statement after footage of the film was shown at Comic Con 2012. 

Watch the new trailer for The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug:

"We were really pleased with the way the story was coming together, in particular, the strength of the characters and the cast who have brought them to life. All of which gave rise to a simple question: do we take this chance to tell more of the tale? And the answer from our perspective as the filmmakers, and as fans, was an unreserved 'yes.'

"We know how much of the story of Bilbo Baggins, the Wizard Gandalf, the Dwarves of Erebor, the rise of the Necromancer, and the Battle of Dol Guldur will remain untold if we do not take this chance."

Martin Freeman Bilbo BagginsMartin Freeman Grits His Teeth as Bilbo Baggins in 'The Desolation of Smaug'

The Hobbit Desolation of Smaug
Scary Fella In The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug

Richard Armitage
Richard Armitage as Thrin Oakenshield

Luke Evans
Luke Evans as Bard The Bowman in The Hobbit The Desolation of Smaug

The Hobbit Desolation of Smaug poster
The Official Poster For The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug