Credit: via IMDB

If you're like us, you've been counting down the days to The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug's premiere for months. You have the entire cast memorized, you have The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey on DVD (or Blu-Ray), and you don't need an article like this at all.

However, for those of you who are scratching your head trying to tell your Bilbos from your Gandalfs, we've got the rundown on everything you need to know before you head into the movie — and some major talking points in case you want to save on the ticket but keep up with the pop culture convo!

Main Plot Points to Remember from An Unexpected Journey

So, you want to go see the Desolation of Smaug, but the only thing you remember about An Unexpected Journey is Gollum and something about a ring? Don't worry, we've got your back. Here are the three biggest plot point to know headed into the second installment of the trilogy:

1. Dwarves on a quest. The central quest at the heart of these films is that of a group of dwarves, led by Thorin (played by the hunky Richard Armitage), who are seeking to reclaim their home under the Lonely Mountain from the fearsome dragon Smaug. First, they have to get to the mountain (which they're currently working on), and then they have to find a way to defeat Smaug,  which will be a challenge… to put it lightly.

2. Bilbo and the Ring. The hero of the story is Bilbo Baggins, a loveable Hobbit who is enlisted as a “burglar” to accompany the dwarves and help them get into the mountain. In the first film, Bilbo’s side adventure led to him obtaining a magical ring from a creature called Gollum (yes, if you've seen or read Lord of the Rings, you know where this is going in the long run...). So far, all Bilbo knows is that the ring can turn him invisible.

3. Dark powers are rising. While Bilbo and the dwarves are on their quest, we've been getting hints that dark forces are amassing and dark powers (including a mysterious figure called "the Necromancer") rising. The wizard Gandalf the Grey is involved with this plot, as well as the wizard Radagast the Brown and various other Elves and Wizards.

Major Cast and Characters to Know

Here are the key cast members/characters to know about:

Bilbo. Bilbo is played by British genre staple Martin Freeman.

Gandalf the Grey. You might remember this wizard from Lord of the Rings. He's played by Sir Ian McKellen.

Smaug/Necromancer. The dragon at the heart of this all is voiced by Benedict Cumberbatch, who will also play the mysterious Necromancer.

Thorin Oakenshield. As we said, he's played by Richard Armitage. He's super hot.

Kili. The hottest dwarf, played by Aidan Turner. You know, just in case you want to go Google pics of him like we do on a weekly basis.

Legolas. Orlando Bloom is back as this Lord of the Rings favorite, a super-dreamy white-haired elf.

Tauriel. Lost leading lady Evangeline Lilly will play this female elf.

Major Talking Points

So, what should you chat about when someone brings The Hobbit up at a party? Here are some talking points you can weigh in on without having to understand the finer points of Middle Earth mythology:

1. Orlando Bloom returns! Is it totally awesome that Orlando Blood is back as Legolas, or completely lame that the writers shoehorned him in to appeal to Lord of the Rings fans? Heck, if you bring this up, you don't even need to pick a side — just ask the question and watch the feathers fly.

2. Benedict Cumberbatch sure is great, huh? If you don't really want to talk about the movie, you can always focus on the way this British star is taking over the world. From starring on hit show Sherlock to playing the villain in the most recent Star Trek movie to a spot in likely Oscar nominee 12 Years a Slave to two roles here, is there anything he hasn't done? Answer: no.

For bonus points, mention that time he read the lyrics to R. Kelly's "Genius" and made fangirls the world over swoon.

3. Is three movies too many? Lord of the Rings was three long novels turned into three epic movies. The Hobbit series is... one long novel turned into three epic movies. Too much? Probably, and people are going to want to talk about it.

Catch The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug in theaters starting Friday, December 13, 2013.

Rebecca Martin is an Associate Editor at Wetpaint Entertainment and our resident Game of Thrones, Breaking Bad, and genre TV expert. Follow her on Twitter and Google+!


Credit: Celebified Photo: Ralph Fiennes Juggles Directing And Starring In Charles Dickens Period Drama The Invisible Woman