The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug
Brief History of Dragons
The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug
Director: Peter Jackson
Writers: Fran Walsh, Peter Jackson, Guillermo del Toro, Philippa Boyens, J.R.R. Tolkein
Cast: Ian McKellan, Martin Freeman, Richard Armitage, Ken Stott, Graham McTavish, William Kircher, James Nesbitt, Stephen Hunter, Orlando Bloom, Dean O'Gorman, Aidan Turner, John Callen, Peter Hambleton, Jed Brophy, Mark Hadlow, Adam Brown, Evangeline Lilly, Lee Pace, Benedict Cumberbatch, Mikael Persbrandt, Sylvester McCoy, Stephen Fry, Luke Evans, John Bell, Ryan Gage, Peggy Nesbitt, Mary Nesbitt, Manu Bennett, Lawrence Makoare
Synopsis: The dwarves, along with Bilbo Baggins and Gandalf the Grey, continue their quest to reclaim Erebor, their homeland, from Smaug. Bilbo Baggins is in possession of a mysterious and magical ring.
MPAA Rating: Rated PG-13 for extended sequences of intense fantasy action violence, and frightening images
The Wrath of Smaug
I see fire music video
The king of all dragons has arrived...
Not since the hype about seeing Gollum for the first time, have we ever seen this much buildup to the reveal of a CGI animated character, in a live action movie. Was it worth the wait? Are we going to end up with another great CGI animated character in ilk of Gollum from the "Lord of the Rings" Trilogy? Or even Caesar from "Rise of the Planet of the Apes?" Or will this be a huge letdown of epic proportions? Let's find out.
The film essentially picks up where the last movie left off. Bilbo Baggins (Martin Freeman) and his merry band of Dwarves continue heading towards Erebor, to reclaim the Dwarves' homeland from Smaug the dragon. Along the way, they encounter various threats like giant talking spiders, orcs, and even the elves themselves try to stop them in their pursuit of their destination. Meanwhile, Gandalf (Ian McKellan) discovers that there might be something else on the horizon. Something far deadlier than even the king of the dragons himself. But who could be deadlier than the mighty Smaug? After all, he has no equal, yet what sort of threat that could be on the horizon that might put the entire middle Earth in grave danger? I can't say without giving anything away, but it's definitely a nice set up for the original trilogy.
Through a series of events, the Dwarves and Bilbo eventually face the mighty Smaug, the king of all dragons. Although little is revealed about his true origins, we do know that he's a fierce creature that is not to be messed with. Voiced by up and coming actor, Benedict Cumberbatch, who's voice adds a lot of weight and dramatic flair to the character. Smaug's appearance was definitely worth waiting for. Although I hesitate t say he's the best dragon that I've ever seen on the big screen, as that honor still goes to Falcore in the original "Neverending Story"; due mainly to the unique character design that sets Falcore apart from most dragons. However, the CGI animation was fairly impressive to say the least, and "The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug" features arguably the most realistic rendered dragon that you'll probably ever see on the big screen.
Not to mention the CGI spiders are very realistic as well. Of course, this means that anyone who suffers from arachnophobia might want to avoid this movie at any cost. Sadly, the Orcs are still a bit fake looking though, as they're still a far cry from how they appeared in the original "Lord of the Rings" trilogy. However, these are just minor nitpicks though, as I'm sure most viewers won't be analyzing this movie too much.
As I mentioned before in my review of the last movie, "The Hobbit" isn't going to feature the same level of groundbreaking story telling that you'll find in the original "Lord of the Rings" trilogy, but it's still fairly entertaining to watch.
The special effects are fairly impressive along with the action scenes. Although, some of the fight scenes are a bit cartoonish at times; like when one of the dwarves decides to fight while having their arms poke out of a barrel on each side, as they're sailing towards a waterfall. In hindsight, this scene alone makes the movie sound fairly cheesy, but we have to keep in mind that the original "Hobbit" novel was meant to be more of a children's story. Therefore, it's not an easy task to make a trilogy out of a children's book that'll inevitably connect to one of the greatest movie trilogies of all time. Yet, Peter Jackson seems to pull it off nicely.
Not only adding the same level of grounded fantasy that the original "Lord of the Rings" trilogy featured, but he still manages to incorporate a degree of light hearted adventure to make the "Hobbit" trilogy feel like it's own series.
As far as the soundtrack goes, I have to admit it's arguably one of the better soundtracks that I've ever heard for a movie, and the musical orchestration matches the film's tone perfectly. The sound editing and mixing were well done, and the 3-D cinematography wasn't half bad either. Definitely worth seeing in 3-D if you can afford it.
As for the rest of the actors, I thought they all played their parts rather well. Martin Freeman continues to delight audiences with his performance as the iconic literary character, Bilbo Baggins. Showing just the right amount of humor and sophistication to play off the seriousness of the other characters.
Richard Armitage continues to kill it with his role as Thorin, as his internal conflicted soul trying to come to terms with his destiny is almost reminiscent of what we saw with Aragorn in "Lord of the Rings." It's almost sad that the story couldn't have been written better, as Richard Armitage almost steals the show from Freeman in this one.
As for Sir Ian McKellan, I don't think there's anything I could say that would do his role any justice. We all know he's arguably one of the best actors in Hollywood, so it doesn't come as any surprise that he's still able to put on a great commanding performance as Gandalf in this feature. Sadly, that's not to say this film is by any means perfect.
One major gripe is that the movie tends to take forever to get into the story. Granted, it's been no secret that the "Lord of the Rings" trilogy, and even the last "Hobbit" film, have been known for their elaborate drawn out styles of story telling. However, in the case of "The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug", it seems like the pacing during this movie tends to drag it's feet half the time; almost making the movie feel longer than it actually is.
Overall though, I'd have to say that "The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug" was a fairly enjoyable movie to watch nonetheless. Sure, it has it's fair share of problems, but it's never enough to ruin the film. Definitely worth seeing in theaters at a rating of three out of four.
© 2014 Steven Escareno
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