Prepare for war in 1st teaser for The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies

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Jul 28, 2014, 8:04 PM EDT (Updated)

The final Hobbit film is just months away, and we've got the haunting teaser trailer right here.

Peter Jackson's been living in Middle-earth for a long time. He began developing what would become his Oscar-winning Lord of the Rings trilogy all the way back in 1997, and though he took a break for things like King Kong and The Lovely Bones, he couldn't stay away long. Not so long ago, The Hobbit was supposed to be two films helmed by the great Guillermo del Toro, but here we are in 2014 with two Jackson-directed Hobbit films already on the shelf, and the third -- which is likely to be Jackson's final Middle-earth adventure -- on the way this December. It all seems a bit unlikely, but then again, so did everything that happened to Bilbo Baggins after he stepped out of Bag End and went on an adventure. 

Jackson brought several members of his Middle-earth cast with him to San Diego Comic-Con last weekend to premiere the first trailer for The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies (recently retitled from The Hobbit: There and Back Again), and reminisce about his time among the hobbits, elves, dwarves, orcs and wizards. And now the trailer has hit the web for the rest of the world to see. For the most part, this trailer is all about the emotional buildup to the titular battle as Bilbo, Thranduil, Bard, Gandalf and many others prepare to meet what could be their end (though, of course, we know that many of them survive) and Thorin Oakenshield readies his company for one final fight to reclaim their lost kingdom.

To heighten the haunting tone, the trailer is set to Billy Boyd's "The Steward of Gondor: Mist and Shadow," a song from one of the darkest moments of The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King. While you might consider it cheating to steal such a moving moment from the first trilogy to play up the second one, it's hard to argue its effectiveness.

Check out the trailer:

It's rather gutsy to refer to this film as "the defining chapter" of all of Jackson's Middle-earth films, particularly when one of the films that came before tied an Academy Awards record. Because Jackson's been weaving in bits of other Lord of the Rings lore in these films to show us both the battle for Erebor and the rise of Sauron in the East, though, we'll certainly see some things that set us on the path to The Lord of the Rings. So maybe that's not such a jarring statement after all. 

Many of us (myself included) have been pretty cynical about the Hobbit films, particularly the decision to stretch the story into three massive movies. But if I'm being honest, I have to say something about this trailer really got to me. This might be the last of these films we get to see, and for some of us, heading to Middle-earth on the big screen has been a defining part of our lives as nerds and as movie lovers. In that way, we won't just be seeing a movie this time. We'll also be saying a kind of goodbye. Whether Jackson can deliver the same kind of emotional punch that he did with The Return of the King, though, is something that remains to be seen.

The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies arrives in theaters on Dec. 17.

(Via The Playlist)