Formerly known as The Hobbit: There and Back Again, The Battle of the Five Armies closes out this massive three-film adaptation of the original Middle Earth novel by J.R.R. Tolkien.
The climactic installment in the trilogy picks up right where The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug left off.
A royally enraged Smaug is is bearing down on Lake-Town, preparing to unleash fiery doom upon innocent lives. In the reclaimed dwarf kingdom of Erebor, meanwhile, Thorin Oakenshield is consumed by greed over the treasures Smaug so long hoarded. That treasure draws armies from all corners of Middle Earth, even Mordor, from whence Sauron has sent forth an Orc horde. As the five armies face off, Bilbo must make a desperate choice that will change the fate of his world.
Those lucky thousands in attendance today were treated to a sneak peek of the forthcoming The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies teaser trailer.
The teaser suggests this installment is darker than its more swashbuckling predecessors. The stakes are high and the scale is epic. There’s no shortage moments showing off splashy action, including Smaug lighting up Lake-Town, Thranduil unleashing elfin badassness on the battlefield, and even Galadriel sharing a quiet moment with a wounded Gandalf. Overall, the tone is reminiscent of Return of the King, a connection made even stronger through us of “The Steward of Gondor” from that film.
The Hall H panel kicked off with a behind the scenes video featuring avowed Tolkien fan Stephen Colbert on the Lake-Town set, where he shot a cameo. Colbert himself then took the stage in costume to moderate the panel, comedically riffing on the ridiculous length of The Hobbit Trilogy for several minutes.
The yucks continued as Colbert showed a fun video in which his character, a Lake-Town spy, interacts with directorPeter Jackson. That led directly into a gag reel for all Jackson’s Hobbit and Lord of the Rings movies. Many laughs were had, but Ian McKellen stood out, and not just because of a dance in his underwear and full Gandalf makeup. Again and again, McKellen’s goofiness and quick wit stole the show. A bit in which Hugo Weaving played a scene not as Elrond, but as his Matrix villain Agent Smith was also a knee-slapper.
Jackson was joined onstage by members of the huge cast, including Andy Serkis (Gollum), Elijah Wood (Frodo Baggins), Lee Pace (Thranduil), Evangeline Lilly (Tauriel), Luke Evans (Bard the Bowman), Cate Blanchett (Galadriel), and Benedict Cumberbatch (Smaug), along with co-writer Philippa Boyens.
Since this is likely to be his last Hobbit-related Comic-Con, Jackson himself was a bit lugubrious, waxing sentimental and looking back to 1995, when he was going to make The Hobbit as one film for Miramax. Focusing on the now, he revealed that he continues to shoot new footage and performance capture material, saying, “They haven’t stopped me from filming it yet.”
Wood kicked up some nerd dust when he said that he has actually never read any Middle Earth novels, prompting Colbert to ask if Wood does, in fact, know how to read. Lilly, meanwhile, said that she never finished Return of the King, stopping with twenty pages left because she never wanted the experience to end.
Boyens got big laughs joking about Jackson’s ideas for incorporating excised LotR character Tom Bombadil into The Hobbit, while Blanchett built up some anticipation for Battle of the Five Armies by claiming that we’ll see Galadriel “losing her shit” when the film hits theaters on December 17th.
The panel finished up with the teaser trailer described above, a teaser that ends dramatically as Thorin asks, “Will you follow me one last time?”