Thursday, 9 January 2014

'The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug' Film Review

A year after The Hobbit debuted on our screens, Bilbo and the dwarves resume their quest where we last left off. With the Orcs on their tale, the group are desperate to reach the Lonely Mountain before the last light of Durin's day. 

With Gandalf leaving them to their own devices as they travel through Mirkwood, Bilbo and the dwarves encounter deadly spiders and get imprisoned by wood elves. Will they be able to escape and what other obstacles lie in their wake? 

The movie picks up pretty quickly in terms of action and excitement, with an increased pace and adrenaline from the previous movie. It definitely feels a lot more like a 'Lord of the Rings' movie, but in a way this is also the problem- it seems like it is trying too hard to be a part of that trilogy.

Plot-wise, the only things that actually happen are Beorn's House to Mirkwood to Lake Town to Lonely Mountain. These events run pretty quickly in the book, yet felt dragged out with this sandwich movie. Side-plots and additional scenes at times over dominate and overshadow the simple and straightforward story of 'The Hobbit'. Having read the book twice, the events that I recall being in the book are strung together in a prolonged manner which lacks flow. 

Understandably, the decision to break the book into three movies will require packing it out with additional material and I applaud these for being taken from the Tolkien universe and are well thought out, but it lacks purity and feels almost too grandiose. It tries too hard to make this trilogy a 'prequel' to the LOTR franchise when it would've worked on its own with a few references. 

One of the most divisive additions was bringing Legolas back into the movie. Whilst his stylish combat technique was definitely a welcome to the action sequences, his character is ultimately, not needed, and seemed to be done for pulling power. I did adore the exchange Legolas has with Gloin about Gimli. 

Though the movie mainly stays true to the book in terms of major plot events, the portrayed details are questionable. That said, the movie as a whole was much stronger than the previous, with a range of tense, exciting, funny and shocking scenes, most notably the well choreographed action sequences. A few times, it even made me jump (mind the flying heads!). The addition of some romance also alleviated the otherwise heavy themes.

However, The obvious fillering did give the movie several moments of lull, which could be excused as 'calm before the storm', but I found myself surprisingly yawning (and it wasn't even a late showing)! The drawn out aspect of the movie is unfortunate, though fans will probably love the added perspectives.

As the movie reached its climax, the bigger picture begins to manifest itself in the movie with the eventual reveal of Sauron as the 'enemy', which will no doubt set the scene for the conclusion of 'The Hobbit' and lead into 'The Fellowship of the Ring'. The ending was slightly too abrupt and lacked any sort of catharsis.
~~~2D or 3D~~~
We saw the first one in 3D and thought it was almost too real, making the set seem quite plastic looking, hence deciding to see it in 2D this time. It was nonetheless visually stunning and we could easily identify parts that would've looked great in 3D (flying heads and all!). I would recommend seeing this in 3D as the way it was filmed clearly was thought alongside the technology for effect, not just visuals.

Ian McKellen- Gandalf
Martin Freeman- Bilbo
Richard Armitage- Thorin 
Orlando Bloom- Legolas
Lee Pace- Thranduil
Evangeline Lilly- Tauriel
Benedict Cumberbatch- Smaug

Also stars James Nesbitt, Stephen Fry and Luke Evans.

Clearly the movie could've been cut shorter for a faster paced, more exciting and pure film, but given the decision to extend the films into a trilogy, the team did a good job adding aspects that added value as a movie. The risks that were taken look to deliver a stunning and deep trilogy that will act as prequel to one of the most popular franchises of all time.

With increased action and adrenaline, 'The Desolation of Smaug' is a stronger movie overall, despite being a sandwich between the first and last. Though prolonged and well padded out, it is filled with well choreographed sequences and finishes with anticipation to a grand finale.

'There and Back again' will definitely be one to watch out for at the end of this year!


  1. Too much romance and veering off the book for me. Far too much action that never happened and too little Beorn. Nevertheless, I still enjoyed it

  2. Personally, I can understand Jackson's decision to include Legolas as yet another anchor point to the LOTR trilogy, and, given we know nothing of Legolas' age, it's not beyond the realm of possibility that he'd be alive and in Mirkwood at the time. For me, the problem is the inclusion of a completely original character who serves no purpose other than an unnecessary romantic subplot that actually ends up diluting how pivotal the friendship between Legolas and Gimli is later on.

    I still enjoyed it, overall, but the expansion into three films didn't really do any of the story development any favors.


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