While Bilbo Baggins may have undertaken An Unexpected Journey, he has yet to face anything quite like The Desolation of Smaug.
In the second film of The Hobbit trilogy, Writer-Director Peter Jackson weaves J. R. R. Tolkein’s work into a nonstop action movie throughout the lands of Middle Earth.
Attempting to reclaim the Heart of the Mountain, Bilbo travels with a party of 13 dwarves intent on returning to their homeland. Led by Thorin Oakenshield, this group gets into trouble quite often. When they’re not quarreling among themselves, they’re battling giant spiders, elves, orcs and men during their epic road trip. But the biggest obstacle of them all is Smaug the Magnificent.
Gandalf the Grey weaves his way into and out of the storyline at times, further depicting the overall storyline (as well as setting up the events of The Lord of the Rings trilogy). Interesting new characters are introduced, such as the skin-changer Beorn, whose shape-shifting abilities turn him into an extra-large bear, one which even the Orcs fear.
Jackson created a bit of controversy by introducing a new character, Tauriel (played by Evangeline Lilly), a possible love interest for Legolas (Orlando Bloom was also inserted into the storyline, while not appearing in the original source material). These are but only a couple of references where Jackson padded the storyline with previously introduced or totally new characters.
Speaking of characters, there’s not enough of the main antagonist, Smaug, whom the movie is named after. Benedict Cumberbatch’s digitized voice was very creepy and was brilliant voicing Smaug, but Cumberbatch seems to appear in every sci-fi or fantasy franchise these days. He’s incredibly close to oversaturating the market. Reel it in a little bit, buddy. Also, I grew up pronouncing the dragon’s name like “smog.” Even if I was incorrect in my interpretation, I prefer my way to the on-screen spoken one.
Throughout the movie, Bilbo and his pals continuously hop out of the frying pan and into the fire. There’s a never-ending number of Orcs attacking the group, setting up many great action scenes. The New Zealand scenery is awe-inspiring. It is so bold and prominent, it almost acts like a strong supporting character.
There is so much to take in: the scenery, the storyline, the newly created characters for the movies and attempting to discern one dwarf from another, all of this simultaneously happening within a three-hour movie is almost too stimulation for only one screening. Just like in the Tolkein source books, I always confused the characters’ names (in this one, the dwarves). Why couldn’t Tolkein have given each character different sounding names?
The movie ends by unleashing Smaug onto Lake Town, setting up the Battle of the Five Armies. I look forward to this, as well as seeing the effects of Bilbo getting tempted by the One Ring.
Strength: Great scenery, action and dynamic characters.
Weakness: A little confusing at times, requires background information (or wikis).
WTF Moment: Radagast the Brown has already gotten more screen time in two movies of The Hobbit trilogy than appearances in Tolkein’s book (he was briefly mentioned once).
– “Take back your mountain!”
– “This forest feels sick.”
– “That, my lad, was a dragon.”
– “The flames of war are upon you.”
– “They’re commoners. They’ve always been ugly.”