Air New Zealand Gets More Epic Than Ever With Its Newest Middle-Earth Safety Video

Star-studded clip precedes final Hobbit film

The wizards at Air New Zealand have conjured up their third J.R.R. Tolkien-themed video in as many years, ahead of the final installment of Peter Jackson's second Middle-Earth trilogy, The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies.

Directed by Taika Waititi, the new clip is modesty titled "The Most Epic Safety Video Ever Made," and it features appearances by Elijah Wood, Dean O'Gorman and Sylvester McCoy, all stars of the upcoming movie. No Ian McKellen, though. I guess he took the bus. Jackson also appears quite a bit, and his production company, WETA Workshop, helped develop the spot, along with Kiwi ad agency True.

"This latest offering combines members of our cast and our locations with Air New Zealand's unique personality." says Jackson. "I had a lot of fun on the set with Taika and the team and look forward to seeing the video on board."

Elaborate effects—including one big-ass bird—and pointy-eared pageantry propel demonstrations of life vests, oxygen masks, aircraft exit procedures and the like. There's plenty to savor, but one of the coolest elements is among the simplest: wood-carved tablet-type devices that perfectly capture the "magic mirror" ambiance of modern technology. MGM should market them as movie tie-ins. I want one!

"May your path always be guided by the light of the stars," Wood says near the end, once that ginormous eagle has, presumably, landed. It's a fitting way to round out the sublime spell woven by the four-minute-plus presentation.

Air NZ's first Hobbit-inspired flight-safety foray, "An Unexpected Briefing," took off in 2012. A second spot, "Just Another Day in Middle Earth"—a fanciful long-form commercial sans safety message—taxied down the runway a year ago.

Apart from its elvish travels, the carrier's taken off on other flights of fancy through the years. Far from the Shire, Air NZ visited a different land of enchantment in this Sports Illustrated safety collaboration, made its cabin attendants' clothing disappear for no good reason, and let Richard Simmons exercise his own strange magic.