Desolation of Smaug

The Hobbit:  The Desolation of Smaug


Starring: Ian McKellen & Martin Freeman

Rating: PG-13

Time: 161 minutes

I am definitely a Lord of the Rings convert.  Growing up I never read the Lord of the Rings trilogy so I wasn’t that excited when the The Fellowship of the Rings was released in the theater.  After finally seeing it I was hooked.  I really enjoyed the first two installments, The Two Towers especially, and I enjoyed about the first two hours of The Return of the King (got a little long).  In between watching The Fellowship of the Rings and The Two Towers I read all the books and loved them.  I thought the world Tolkein created was amazing and felt that Peter Jackson did a wonderful job bringing them to screen.  That leads us to The Hobbit, a book I had read as a kid.  I don’t really remember reading it, I remember I didn’t like it, and that my brother loved it.  So I was a little shocked when I heard that Peter Jackson was going to make a trilogy off of a single 300 page book.  Seemed a bit excessive but if there is anyone who could make it work, it is Peter Jackson.

After the disappointment that was the first installment (An Unexpected Journey), I wasn’t expecting a lot from the second film.  I was pleasantly surprised by what I saw.  The Desolation of Smaug improved greatly on the faults of the last film, and was filled with a lot more fun and action.  Where An Unexpected Journey left me bored and counting the minutes, I found myself enjoying Smaug and looking forward to the third and final film.

Jackson improved the second film by focusing on some areas that really lacked in the first film.  First off there is way more action.  It seems like the movie doesn’t go ten minutes without an orc jumping out of somewhere, a dwarf chopping someone’s head off, or an elf shooting something with an arrow.  There is just a ton of action in this film, and it really shortens the run time of 161 minutes. Next the special effects and graphics are amazing.  While this is expected from a Peter Jackson film I really feel like this installment took it to a whole different level.  There is one scene where Bilbo emerges from a forest and looks out over the horizon that is absolutely stunning.  Lastly there is the growth of the characters. As this is the second film we get to know them more and enjoy their individual personalities.  There is also the edition of a new character Tauriel (played by Evangeline Lilly) who is not in the books.  It is good to see Evangeline Lilly acting again.  Since the final episode of Lost I have only seen her briefly in The Hurt Locker and Real Steel.  She is a good actress and obviously she is easy on the eyes.

There are still some weaknesses unfortunately that keep this film from being anything more than good.  The first is the romance between one of the Dwarves and Tauriel.  It is okay to bring in new characters, but to create a love story that never existed is a bit over reaching, even for Peter Jackson.  Also, the love story is distracting and doesn’t add to the movie in any real way.  The other major weakness is Smaug himself.  While the dragon looks phenomenal on the big screen he is a bit of a chatty Cathy.  I understand he has been sleeping for a hundred plus years, but he talks and talks and talks.  Just seemed like a bit of overkill.

I don’t want to spoil the ending but you will love it or hate it.  I heard people in the theater catcalling and booing, but I was grinning.  I thought it was a fantastic way to end the film and sets up the last one perfectly.  The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug is worth a shot, it is entertaining, fast paced and visually stunning.  It does not live up to the Lord of the Rings trilogy but it is still a good movie.

Grade: B- (Worth a shot)