This time around, there's less action and more drama; less staggeringly large set pieces and more face-to-face interaction. We're given a look at plenty of dwarven drama, a frisson of romantic tension between Legolas (Orlando Bloom) and Tauriel (Evangeline Lilly), and the majestic brows of Lee Pace's Thranduil.
Perhaps most tantalizingly, though, is hearing Smaug's voice for the first time.
We got a peek at Smaug before, but he's just another fancy dragon without the silky smooth voice of Benedict Cumberbatch shoring up the CGI. ("Sherlock" fans will have to make due with this virtual reunion between Cumberbatch and his beloved Watson until the series returns for its third season sometime in the next year.)
The first "Hobbit" didn't wow critics, although it's managed to gross over $1B since it opened in December 2012. Will "The Desolation of Smaug" win over critics and lure Tolkien lovers back to the theater? We'll have to wait until December 13, 2013, to find out.