Undoubtedly the biggest movie of the holiday season is The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, the middle chapter of the new Middle Earth adventure trilogy that stars Martin Freeman as Bilbo Baggins, an unassuming hobbit who leaves the comfort of his hobbit hole to face the large and very perilous world of monsters and men.

Since New Zealand is quite a long way away (unless you’re a New Zealander), director Peter Jackson has offered a passport behind the scenes of the Hobbit trilogy with a series of production diary videos. The penultimate diary of the year has now been released, showing the tail end of production and offering a preview of what happens when Bilbo and the dwarves reach their final destination of Erebor.

In between the table tennis and the tea-drinking there are some seriously interesting glimpses and tidbits, including another look at the film’s eponymous dragon. Much of the Lonely Mountain’s interior set was practically built, despite being encased in the warm glow of green screen, and a member of the Weta Digital reveals that 1.8 tons of gold (probably not real gold) were used on set. It looks like a very fun place to work, with crew members sliding down mountains of gold and throwing coins and goblets around.

Those who found The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey to be a little slow to get started should also be pleased to hear Jackson saying, “We want to kick into this movie with a lot of urgency, just like the race is on.” With a substantial amount of travel and a showdown with a dragon to get through, The Desolation of Smaug promises to be pretty action-packed and will cover the adventure at the very heart of the original novel.

There are also four new clips from The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug available, including extended versions of scenes that have been shown in the trailers and a new clip of Thranduil interrogating a prisoner (the nerdiest of readers will probably yell out “Jon Snow!” at a certain point during that one).

The Desolation of Smaug will not only feature the return of Orlando Bloom as Legolas, alongside original elf character Tauriel (Evangeline Lilly), but also is tasking with introducing all of the major human characters from the Lonely Mountain-adjacent Laketown, including master archer Bard (Luke Evans) and the Master of Laketown (Stephen Fry). Thorin must convince the people of Laketown that the dwarves’ and Bilbo’s quest to defeat Smaug will be beneficial to them, as opposed to ending in fire and death like Smaug’s initial arrival did, and attempts to do so with the promise of gold.

We won’t say more for fear of spoiling the movie for those who haven’t read the book (do read it, though; it’s only 300 pages long and worth every page), but suffice to say that the gold under the mountain is possibly even more troublesome than the dragon sleeping in it.

The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug opens in theaters December 13th, 2013.

Source: Warner Bros.