Hi, Bryan Here….
And we’ve arrived in the 2nd year of Peter Jackson’s Hobbit trilogy with ‘The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug‘, and let me tell you, it’s a big improvement on the last film, which was released the same time last year. First off, we don’t have to spend a half hour inside Bilbo’s home with thirteen dwarves eating, drinking, and singing songs about washing dishes and Bilbo’s unhappy attitude. In this sequel things start off fast and to the point, which is sure to excite all audiences. Still, adapting J.R.R Tolkien’s less than 300 page novel into three separate films might be a bit much, but damn if it isn’t fun and highly entertaining this time around with a giant fire breathing dragon, some epic battles, a familiar elf, and an escape from orcs that I could watch 100 times in a row and never tire of. Just like the previous films set in Middle Earth, I expect another billion dollars for Jackson and co.
You might happy to know that this sequel is less than three hours, but barely, which is surprising given the shortness of the novel it’s based on, but Jackson is adding a bunch of the appendices from Tolkien’s universe. And while the last film dragged on quite a bit, Jackson this time around paces the film very nicely with great development with new characters and some intense action sequences.
‘The Desolation of Smaug‘ focuses on Bilbo and the thirteen dwarves making their way to the Lonely Mountain in the underground kingdom of Erebor to have Thorin Oakenshield reclaim the throne from the frightening dragon named Smaug, which we saw at the beginning of the last film where the kingdom was destroyed and torched. Once again, Gandalf, Bilbo, and the dwarves encounter many obstacles along their way, which hinder their advancement to the lonely mountain quickly.
Originally, Guillermo Del Toro was supposed to direct these films, but dropped out, however still has a credit in the film. But Jackson and his co-writers and producers Fran Walsh and Philippa Boyens decided to add a couple of new characters to the film, which were not in the Tolkien books at all. Perhaps to give a small romantic angle for our traveling companions. You’ll be happy to know that Legolas (Orlando Bloom) and fellow elf Tauriel (Evangeline Lilly), a sexy female elf who is as skilled with a sword and bow as Legolas is, both have big story arcs here and whose romantic feelings are mixed with one of the dwarves, specifically Kili.
Gandalf senses something wrong and leaves Bilbo and the dwarves to travel the road alone for the time being, as Gandalf sets out to ultimately discover the one true evil that sets the ‘Lord of the Rings‘ films in motion. Meanwhile the dwarves and Bilbo head into the Mirkwood forest, where if you stray off path, you’ll begin to have an acid-like trip and become lost forever. Add to that some giant spiders who enjoy dwarves for breakfast, and you got yourself a little suspenseful scene. But the elves show up, but end up taking the dwarves prisoner, but thanks to Bilbo the burglar and a big orc battle, the little band of men escape in one of the best escape scenes I’ve ever seen. I’m serious, this need to be some sort of ride at a theme park. It’s that fun.
Th dwarves and Bilbo end up at a once great town on the sea named Lake Town, where a jerk dictator (an excellent Stephen Fry) has taken control over the town and turned into a poor and poverty stricken city. Luckily a man named Bard (Luke Evans) smuggles the dwarves in the town to help them on their quest, where Bard soon realizes he’ll have to play a much bigger role in this trilogy. But that’s not this time.
Here, we end up in the gold and rich kingdom of the dwarves and we meet Smaug. This dragon is just incredible. He’s voiced by Benedict Cumberbatch and might be the scariest scaled character to ever grace the screen. His movements, motifs, and voice are purely terrifying. While Cumberbatch’s voice is a little too modified digitally for me, it still is great.
Martin Freeman plays Bilbo very well again, and has a little more wiggle room here to see his decent into madness and obsessions with the ring and other riches, but ultimately shows how courageous he really is. Lilly does an impressive job here to as the elf while Bloom as Legolas is there to only shoot his arrow into orcs. And that he does very well.
While there are some suspenseful moments, we all know how this turns out, and being three movies long, we know the dwarves and Bilbo won’t be killed off, no matter how dire the situation is. This doesn’t really take anything away from the movie, but it’s always in the back of your mind. This 2nd installment ends on a big cliff hanger and will leave you in the theater yelling, ‘Nooo”, as the prefect and vicious Smaug sets out to unleash his fiery evil and the orc population is growing rapidly.
The 3D is is okay at best, but is not necessary, and actually darkens the screen quite a bit, which I didn’t care for, but there is more filmic look to this one, which was nice compared to the high frame rate of the first film. ‘The Desolation of Smaug‘ is a great second installment and loads better than the first film. It’s also the darkest yet, as nobody has a good outcome as of yet. Despite the abundance of too much CG, I cannot wait to see this again.