It’s that time of year again where we get the next installment of The Hobbit. I think we all remember how last year went down, click here if you don’t. It was quite interesting to see people’s reactions to my review, needless to say that I was not appreciated for not liking a movie. It was cool in the fact that I was eliciting a response, yet humbling because I was being called out for not liking a movie, a movie people hadn’t even seen yet. This isn’t to say that you can’t have your opinion about the movie, or even my review, but it was the first time I had ever been called to the mat like that. I made it clear from the start that I went into the movie with an open mind, as I do every movie, even with my low expectations, and I did the same thing with The Desolation of Smaug.
The Desolation of Smaug doesn’t pick up exactly where An Unexpected Journey left us, but instead takes us back to before the story began when Thorin is trying to put his team together. To me this felt like a pointless scene because we then immediately jump to the caravan continuing its journey to The Lonely Mountain. And guess what, they do more walking. Crazy, I know. This time around, however, their journey is somewhat sped up by the shenanigans they get themselves into on the road. And I would just like to say that I am growing very suspicious of Gandalf. He always seems to disappear right before the group gets into serious trouble, and he always seems to be able to travel great distances at incredible speeds.
My issues with the first movie continue with this one. There is nothing wrong with taking a short story and expanding it, but it has to mean something. Most of this movie is just filler. There is a great deal of emphasis placed, this time around, on the resurgence of Sauron. That aspect of the story was in the book, but it’s only ever alluded to and not outright acknowledged. Even though his return is just a rehash of what happens in The Fellowship of the Ring I found it refreshing. I just love the aspect of this otherworldly evil regaining its strength and building its army into something that will eventually culminate in The Lord of the Rings. I personally have no problem with the addition of Legolas or Tauriel. Some fans might cry foul, but in a world as dense as the one created by Tolkein in the first place, who’s to say that she didn’t “exist” in the first place?
I’d like to take this opportunity to talk about dragons. Dragons are the best part of movies, period. Best Harry Potter movie, Goblet of Fire. Why? Dragons. Best dragon movie, Reign of Fire. Why? Christian Bale, wait, dragons. You know what would’ve made Only God Forgives a watchable movie? Not getting made. Did you think I was going to say dragons? I’m not going to sully dragons by putting them in that mess. Dragons are like way cooler dinosaurs, so it comes as no surprise that the best part of The Desolation of Smaug was, you guessed it, Smaug. You know what makes a dragon even cooler? Having it voiced by Benedict Cumberbatch. Can we forget about Morgan Freeman for a while? I want Cumberbatch to narrate everything. I’ve only ever seen him in Star Trek and The Desolation of Smaug, but based on those two things I would watch him in anything. The entire Smaug sequence, which takes up a good third of the movie was not only my favorite scene because of the dragon, but because of the banter between Bilbo and Smaug. As a writer I love writing scenes like that between two characters. A verbal cat and mouse game as each tries to figure out the motives of the other. It reminded me of the scene between Bilbo and Gollum in An Unexpected Journey, which happened to be my favorite scene in that movie.
In closing I have to reiterate some points from my original review. There really is no point in having three movies that are this long and that have so little going on. There is no connection with the two main characters. One is a giant jerk who is on a selfish quest to reclaim his homeland. Don’t get me wrong, there is nothing wrong with that, just do it with some grace and dignity and some appreciation for those helping you along your path. And the other is also on a selfish quest to fulfill some weird need to be ridiculed by a dwarf the entire time.
The Desolation of Smaug is light years better than An Unexpected Journey, but it is still nowhere near where it needs to be. I am still genuinely looking forward to the next installment because based on where this movie left off, it promises to be non-stop action. The only thing saving this one from utter ruin is the addition of Smaug and the fat redheaded dwarf who fights off a horde of orcs wearing a barrel for armor.
6 out of 11
Synopsis: THE HOBBIT: THE DESOLATION OF SMAUG continues the adventure of the title character Bilbo Baggins as he journeys with the Wizard Gandalf and thirteen Dwarves, led by Thorin Oakenshield, on an epic quest to reclaim the Lonely Mountain and the lost Dwarf Kingdom of Erebor. Having survived the beginning of their unexpected journey, the Company continues East, encountering along the way the skin-changer Beom and a swarm of giant Spiders in the treacherous forest of Mirkwood. After escaping capture by the dangerous Wood-elves, the Dwarves journey to Lake-town, and finally to the Lonely Mountain itself, where they must face the greatest danger of all- a creature more terrifying than any other; one which will test not only the depth of their courage but the limits of their friendship and the wisdom of the journey itself – the Dragon Smaug.
Starring: Martin Freeman, Ian McKellan, RIchard Armitage, Benedict Cumberbatch
Director: Peter Jackson
Run time: 161 min