The first trailer for Peter Jackson's second installment of his Hobbit trilogy, The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, was released earlier this week. While reader responses were overall positive, quite a few people commented on the CGI, either saying that there was far too much or that it just didn't look all that great.
While the fantasy adventure may be pretty reliant on having a team of effects people working hard on it in post-production, one thing that can be said for Peter Jackson's directing is that he's gone to great lengths to find the sweeping, beautiful landscapes that provide the backdrop for exterior shots of Middle-earth.
With that in mind, the latest featurette for The Hobbit: Desolation of Smaug is all about location: naming and exploring each of the real-life places used to bring Middle-earth to life. Featuring interviews with the cast and crew, clips from the movie, and comparisons of the New Zealand landscapes both before and after computer-generated additions, the featurette is definitely worth a watch for fans who want to get a look at the logistics of filming such a grand adventure, especially if you also happen to be a keen traveler.
Martin Freeman jokes at the end that the featurette is a great advertisement for New Zealand (in fact, since it ends with the url of New Zealand's tourism site, that's probably exactly what it is), and it's fair to say that Peter Jackson's insistence upon shooting on location across the country has been a great boon to New Zealand's tourism.
In 2004, shortly after the release of The Return of the King, the International Visitor Survey found that six percent of tourists listed the Lord of the Rings films as one of their main reasons for visiting and one percent (the equivalent of $32.8m in spend) listed it as their sole reason. With Hobbiton now built of sustainable materials and designed to last, the Tolkien films have left a permanent legacy behind in New Zealand.
Does the featurette make you want to take a trip out to Middle-earth, or is it too far to go for a hobbit-hole?
The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug opens in theaters on December 13th, 2013.