Credit: James Fisher

For a brief, glorious stretch of years in the not too distant past, the holiday moviegoing season was synonymous with the harrowing tales of J.R.R. Tolkien’s hobbits, elves, dwarves, wizards, and men. And now, for the first time in eight years, we finally get to go back to Middle Earth — sure, it’s only for two-and-a-half minutes in the new trailer for The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, but we’ll gladly take it. The first of two films, which chronicles the life of Bilbo Baggins (Martin Freeman…and Ian Holm) before the war-ravaged events of The Lord of the Rings, hits theaters Dec. 14, 2012. Check out the trailer below:

First impressions: My goodness, that is a lot of dwarves! And they sure do enjoy their solemn songs about the Misty Mountains. I’m a little surprised there wasn’t more than a blink-and-you-missed-it wink at the whole point of this unexpected journey, namely to claim a treasure guarded by a dragon named Smaug (who’ll be played by War Horse‘s Benedict Cumberbatch, performance capture-style) — although I suppose since the film is still a year away, those visual effects may just not be ready. (Or, just as likely, director Peter Jackson doesn’t want to show off everything quite yet.) But I love the tips of the pointed hat to the Rings films — Bilbo looking at the shards of Narsil, the sword that sliced the One Ring from Sauron’s hand; the quick glimpse of Frodo (Elijah Wood); the shot of the One Ring itself; the moment when…hold the phone….is that Galadriel (Cate Blanchett) getting all romantic with Gandalf (Ian McKellan)?! Well, now I’m really intrigued.

What are your first impressions? Oh, and for those who want to see this glimpse at Jackson’s first film in 3-D in all its multidimensional glory, you can check out the trailer in front of 3-D showings of The Adventures of Tintin — which, coincidentally, Jackson produced.

Read more:

‘The Hobbit’: Peter Jackson offers the first look at Thorin Oakenshield

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey
  • Movie
  • 170 minutes