December 23, 2013 The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug (Movie review)
Upon hearing of J.R.R. Tolkien’s fantasy novel The Hobbit finally making it to the big screen after years of complications, fans were certainly overjoyed. The first chapter, The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey (2012), didn’t disappoint and resulted in the 16th highest grossing film of all time. As the first movie to ever be shot and projected in HFR (High Frame Rate, 48 frames per second, as opposed to the standard 24 for 3D effect), the popular book sprung to life, capturing scenes that were practically word for word from the book. It even included the dwarves’ song of Bilbo ( “that’s what Bilbo Baggins hates!”). All of that aside, a common question popped into the minds of viewers – how is director Peter Jackson going to manage turning a 285 page novel into a trilogy of films over 6 hours long?
That answer brings us to chapter two of the series entitled The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug. For those not familiar with the story, the dwarves, along with the help of Bilbo Baggins and Gandalf the Grey, continue their quest to reclaim their homeland from Smaug. In the midst of their journey Bilbo becomes increasingly possessive of his new findings. With that said, fans of the novel might find this film somewhat of a disappointment. There are added scenes which displayed characters who were only mentioned in the original story ( King Thranduil and Radagast, to name a few ), as well as a brand new character specifically for the movie, a female elvish warrior named Tauriel ( Evangeline Lilly ). Legolas (played by Orlando Bloom) is even thrown into the mix, and their presence sparks a love triangle between them and Kili, leaving a sub plot open to continue in the next film, which was a last-minute decision once the movie already wrapped. We also get to follow Gandalf for a bit in the film, after he leaves the group at the edge of Mirkwood.
With some interesting new adaptations, Jackson however does pay attention to detail in other ways. For example, Beorn, the skin-changer, makes a brief appearance in a very big way. There is the great escape via wine barrels from the Elven King, followed by an epic battle and chase scene. And finally, there is the much-anticipated encounter with Smaug, voiced by Benedict Cumberbatch.
All in all, it is safe to say to take the bad with the good. In most cases with trilogies, the middle film is usually the hardest, having to end in a fashion to set up the final feature, while still trying to stand out on its own. Jackson certainly had a challenge with this, being the novel is so short. He has proved in the past to go above and beyond with his work, splitting his imagination with the legendary J.R.R. Tolkien, as well as many other projects. Some may deem the added scenes unnecessary, but they should remember that the encounter with Shelob in Lord Of The Rings: Return of the King (2003), was originally written only a page long. CrypticRock give this movie 4 out of 5 stars.
Top photo Bilbo Baggins (played by Martin Freeman) The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug
Written by Shannon Montalbano