Smaug – voiced and played through motion capture means by Benedict Cumberbatch – is the dangerous fire-breathing cause of so much trouble in the next installment of Peter Jackson’s second Middle-earth trilogy, The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug. However, he’s not the only giant beast that halfling Bilbo Baggins (Martin Freeman), wizard Gandalf the Grey (Ian McKellen) and their dwarf companions will encounter, as their quest to reclaim the Lonely Mountain continues.

Warner Bros., in an example of marketing synergy with Denny’s, has unveiled a new featurette for The Desolation of Smaug, which is focused around the home of the character named Beorn (portrayed by Swedish actor Mikael Persbrandt). For those not familiar, J.R.R. Tolkien described Beorn as a man with long black hair, a thick beard and unusually impressive size/strength. In other words, he might’ve been an inspiration for J.K. Rowling when she created Hagrid in the Harry Potter series, so many decades after Tolkien’s original novel was published.

However, the different between Harry’s half-giant friend and Beorn – who lives between the Misty Mountains and Mirkwood – is that the latter has a habit of turning into a bear (and back again), every so often. The Desolation of Smaug trailers released so far have included glimpses at Beorn when he’s shape-shifted into bear form. However, the latest behind-the-scenes clip for the movie focuses specifically on the amount of work that went into making the enormous set piece that is his home (and what it’s like to walk around on the set).

Transformation and change appear to be key elements of The Desolation of Smaug, in terms of story and character development. Case in point, the latest TV spot calls attention to the dangerous events unfolding around Middle-earth, as forces of darkness begin to gather and, in the process, shatter the peace. Not to mention, we find out just who the mysterious Necromancer (also played via mo-cap by Cumberbatch) really is… in case you hadn’t already guessed or read Tolkien’s Middle-earth literature.

Meanwhile, Thorin Oakenshield (Richard Armitage) seems to have grown more unsettlingly obsessed with reclaiming his birthright, even if it comes at a terrible price to those around him. And, mind you, that’s before he and his companions even find their way into the Lonely Mountain, where a creature most foul awaits them…

Jackson’s first Hobbit movie, An Unexpected Journey, was more divisive than his previous Tolkien adaptations, yet we’re already starting to see how carefully it planted the seeds for what’s to come next in the story. Indeed, between that and the rising stakes/quotient of fantastical obstacles in our heroes’ way – be they sinister dragons, mistrusting elves, giants spiders or good ol’ orcs – The Desolation of Smaug may impress even those who weren’t so crazy about how Bilbo’s grand adventure began.

Be sure and let us know how The Desolation of Smaug is looking thus far to you, in the comments section of this article.

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