Review: The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug
Written by: Steven Panzarella (@ProCreateSteve)
The Short Version-The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug tops the first in the series with nonstop action and incredible special effects. Led by a top notch cast, quality script, and as usual epic direction from Peter Jackson The Desolation of Smaug is both fun and worth its 2 hour and 40 minute runtime.
The Long Version: The Lord of The Rings franchise was hugely successful and whether the critics loved it or not The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey raked in a billion dollars at the box office. A series that was originally supposed to span 2 films but was made a trilogy after Peter Jackson and company realized just how much story they had left to tell. As far as Jackson’s 2 hour and 40 min epics go The Hobbit: The Desolation Of Smaug does not disappoint. Beginning where Unexpected Journey left off, we find the company of dwarves on the long dangerous trek to the lonely mountain to face off with the dragon that took their home away from them.
The Hobbit: The Desolation Of Smaug is better than Unexpected Journey for all of the reasons you might think, it doesn't take so long to get started, and you don't have to watch characters go into the inevitable transition's that drag story along. Bilbo (Martin Freeman) now has the one ring and is using it for the good of the journey and Gandalf (Ian McKellen) is still struggling with his allegiance to the quest to reclaim the dwarven homeland of Erebor and the greater challenge of the return of darkness in the north. The Desolation of Smaug may not get all the way up to Lord of The Rings final 2 in the series standards, yet it brings a punch of quality action sequences and unbelievable special effects. The script written by the team of Peter Jackson, Phillipa Boyens, Guillermo Del Toro, and Fran Walsh does a bang up job of giving its actors room to grow while introducing a number of new characters and setting them up inside this massive universe.
Martin Freeman continues to be a fantastic Bilbo. His bravery now knows no bounds yet he still struggles with his job as the group’s burglar. Freeman also manages to do a great job of showing the weight of the quest and the effect the ring is already taking on him. Along with the excellent work by the films lead, Desolation is also filled with quality supporting roles as usual from the likes of Sir Ian McKellen as Gandalf, Richard Armitage as Throin Oakenshield and the entire Dwarf Company who steal plenty of scenes. New additions to the cast include Lee Pace as elf king Thranduil, eleven guard Tauriel played by Evangeline Lilly and everyone’s crush Benedict Cumberbatch who voiced and did the motion capture for the devious dragon Smaug and the Necromancer. Also joining the cast are Luke Evans as bard the bowman and Stephen Fry as the grumpy master of Laketown. They even brought back the fan favorite Legolas who is reprised by Orlando Bloom. The relationship and scenes shared by Tauriel and Legolas are some of the best action scenes in the film but do not compare to those between the dwarves, Bilbo and Smaug.
When talking about special effects, you would be hard pressed to find a better sequence in film this year then Desolation of Smaug’s finale. Once Bilbo and the Dwarves reach Erebor it’s Bilbo’s time to shine. His job is simple: get around the massive dragon and reclaim the dwarven homeland by recovering the treasured arkenstone. Once we are introduced to Smaug we are in awe of not only the incredible voice work by Benedict Cumberbatch but the enormity of the dragon and the incredible CGI work. Peter Jackson and company manages to surpass the amazing battle sequence in The Lord of The Rings and The Two Towers. Each scene featuring Smaug is meticulously done and extremely fun to watch as Bilbo attempts to reason with the power hungry dragon and Smaug outwits him at every turn. The scene is even better for fans of BBC’s Sherlock, who are used to seeing Martin Freeman and Benedict Cumberbatch match wits as Watson and Holmes. Like the scene between Bilbo and Gollum in Unexpected Journey, the scene with Bilbo and Smaug is the film’s most memorable.
The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug does do a bit of set up for the final film which hits theaters next year, but it still manages to be everything the second film in a trilogy is supposed to be. It excites audiences and creates an enjoyable theater experience not to be missed (and should be worth a second viewing!)
Final Grade= A- SEE IT!