The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug
I had great expectations for this, the second installment of Peter Jackson’s The Hobbit, and the film met and even exceeded those expectations. But then, I’m not a hard-core purist. If you are, beware. Although Sir Peter keeps to the spirit of Tolkien’s text, he deviates quite often from it. Um, make that most of the time. All these deviations, however, aid in character development and tightening the story itself. I always found that the book had gaping holes and left a lot of questions in my mind.
The first film, An Unexpected Journey, was exactly that, a journey. Its purpose was to introduce the main characters and setup the reason for that journey. Introducing fourteen protagonists takes quite a bit of time. With that now out of the way, The Desolation of Smaug can get on with the fun, and fun it is. This film is action-packed from beginning to end; even the prologue is filled with tension. I was so into the action that I didn’t even notice the 2:41 running time.
The story begins where the first film left off. Bilbo, Gandalf and the Dwarves are climbing down the Caroc with Azog and his Orcs in hot pursuit. The entire scene is observed by a giant bear—Beorn. After spending the night in the skin-changer`s home, Bilbo and Company head north to the elven gate and the path through the forest. This is where Gandalf bids them farewell and heads off on his own adventure; the boys promptly get lost.
Mirkwood was everything I imagined it to be. A dark and menacing forest with a suffocating atmosphere that left the company disoriented, and then came the spiders… Watching the fight with the giant spiders was like being on a rollercoaster ride, leaving me breathless. It is in this sequence that Bilbo begins to realize the power of the ring.
We first see Tauriel (brilliantly performed by Evangeline Lily) and Legolas (Orlando Bloom reprising his role as the elven prince) rescuing and promptly capturing the dwarves. Tauriel is not what one would call a girly elf. She is tough, and can take care of herself in battle. She is also more open to the differences of cultures than Legolas. She becomes fascinated by the dwarves, especially Kili. There has been uproar about the addition of Tauriel since this character is not in the text, but I like her.
Thranduil is perfectly portrayed by Lee Pace. The elven king is regal and as cold as the stones of his palace, but during an interview with Thorin we find out why Thranduil didn`t help the dwarves when first Smaug attacked.
After a hilarious escape from the halls of the sylvan elves and then chased by Orcs and Elves, Bilbo and friends meet Bard (Luke Evans) who smuggles them into Laketown. The Laketown set is amazing in its detail. You can almost smell the rotting wood, tar and fish. Throughout Bilbo and the dwarves` adventures the story cuts seamlessly to Gandalf in Dol Guldur and back. It is here that we learn the true identity of the Necromancer and the Orc army sets off for Erebor.
Now we come to the character everyone is looking forward to seeing, Smaug the Magnificent, and he truly is. Benedict Cumberbatch is deliciously evil as the dragon. He is mesmerizing as he tries to trap Bilbo, and it`s another rollercoaster ride as he chases the dwarves and Bilbo through the halls of Erebor. Hungering for revenge, Smaug finally leaves the dwarven kingdom and flies toward Laketown. And we all know what happens then, but that will have to wait until December 2014.
For me, The Desolation of Smaug, rates 5 out of 5 stars. It was an enjoyable, breathtaking ride. I can`t wait to see it again, and again, and again… I`ll just have to remember to keep breathing.
Gerda Marz is the Submissions and Acquisitions Director at Oloris Publishing