Review - The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug
Peter Jackson has captured our minds and our hearts with his imagining of the Lord of the Rings trilogy and now this Hobbit trilogy of his. He has such an amazing vision of how these characters and how this world comes together that is truly breathtaking. What is more impressive is how on this turn with his imagination of The Hobbit he managed to add in new elements that were not in the book that Tolkien originally wrote. These films are spectacular in terms of scope, but also in the drama between the feuding races such as the dwarves and elves. The Hobbit is entirely different in terms of scope in comparison to the Lord of the Rings trilogy because the situation is not nearly as dire as fighting the Dark Lord and his endless armies. Granted, this time around it is a dragon, which presents it's own issues, the global ramifications are not nearly as dire as it were in the Lord of the Rings trilogy.
The plot of the film picks up right from where it left off in the first film as we see the group heading towards the Lonely Mountain only to come across their own fair share of issues. Gandalf (Ian McKellen) ventures off away from the group, promising to meet them at the Lonely Mountain, as deep down he knows that a great dark force is rising that he must do his best to fight. Bilbo (Martin Freeman) continues carrying with him the ring that he find inside the mines and uses it when he finds it necessary. Thankfully, the ring even gets them out of some trouble from time to time. Thorin (Richard Armitage) continues to lead them towards the mountain in hopes of reclaiming their home, Erebor, which would also allow him to retake his rightful claim as king of Dwarves. Eventually the group has a run in with the Eleven people who arrest them in hopes of being able to make a deal with Thorin. Thranduil (Lee Pace) bargains with him, offering their freedom from enslavement, and in return he would want Thorin to do him a favor. Thorin refuses as Thranduil turned his back on the Dwarves so long ago when Smaug first attacked Erebor. Thus, the Dwarves are enslaved for what Thranduil deems fit, but Bilbo, thanks to the ring is able to free them and escape through a river. As they continue to get away from the Elves they are also run down by the Orcs sent by Azog (Manu Bennett). Thorin and his people are defenseless, thus Legolas (Orlando Bloom) and Tauriel (Evangeline Lilly) take up their weapons and take down the Orcs. Thorin and his people are able to get away and escape to Laketown, which is right nearby the Lonely Mountain. Bilbo and their new-found friend, Bard (Luke Evans), worry that Thorin's arrogance will bring nothing but destruction upon them all.
Peter Jackson again creates a wildly engaging film in a universe that is absolutely fantastic. Everything from the characters, to the world and even the monsters just suck you right in. Some of the credit should of course go to J.R.R Tolkien, but Jackson's vision of the world is truly spectacular. His ability to create practical effects and terrific CGI is impressive. A lot of praise should go into the creation of the titular monster at the end of the book, Smaugh. Smaugh is voiced perfectly by Benedict Cumberbatch but dragons have always been a tough thing to convey on screen. That is however not the case in this film. The dragon is incredibly intimidating but also quite an interesting character. It is fairly obvious he knows quite a bit about the grand scheme of things, whether it be Thorin's plan or even the evil that will surely rise again. Two other newcomers to this trilogy were also equally impressive such as Bard the Bowman and Tauriel. Luke Evans displays Bard's dignity and heroism perfectly while immediately being a very likable character. Tauriel, on the other hand, is a new character made up by Peter Jackson solely for his trilogy. She obviously catches the eye of Legolas but she has eyes for another. it is a bit surprising to see them add in a romantic subplot but it does help humanize the Elves a bit. Evangeline Lilly does well in the role and instantly becomes the most relatable and likable of the Elves.
Richard Armitage, Martin Freeman and Ian McKellen continue to do a fabulous job in their roles and it is very nice to see Bilbo put up a fight in this film. One of the main complaints of the main hero in Lord of the Rings is how he was frequently screaming yelling for help instead of being heroic himself, that complaint will not be said about Bilbo. He takes matters into his own hands. As for Thorin, Armitage commands the role perfectly as he truly comes off as a leader but sadly his ego and arrogance seems to be his biggest downfall. Another terrific casting choice would be that of Lee Pace as the Elven King, Thranduil. Where as Thorin is very proud and forward about his thoughts, Thranduil is not. Thranduil is very much a snake in thick grass who will always look out for his own skin. Pace does a great job in the role playing all the right notes in the villainous role. However, the true star of the film will always be Peter Jackson for his amazing vision of how to create these fantastic films. All in all, this was a very entertaining film that moved much quicker then it's predecessor yet it still managed to drag it's feet a bit half way through the film.