Movie Review: The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug (2013)

Posted: September 15, 2014 in Drama
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desolation of smaug

Bilbo Baggins (Martin Freeman) is continuing his trek to Lonely Mountain, accompanying Bilbo are the 13 elves,  Gandalf (Ian McKellen) the wizard, and Thorin (Richard Armitage) the King of the dwarves. Once they find the mountain, they have to use the Key of Thorin to open a door carved into the Lonely Mountain. He must also find the Arkenstone, the royal gem of Erebor, and take on Smaug, the dragon. And he must do all this before sunset on Durin’s Day. Before he gets to Lonely Mountain, there are many obstacles in Bilbo’s way.  He seeks refuge with Beorn (Mikael Persbrandt) and then has to fight giant spiders in Mirkwood Forest.  They escape the spiders only to be arrested by the Elvin King, Thanduil. (Lee Price)  Bilbo and company escapes the Elvin prison in barrels only to run into a band of Orcs.  The attack is repelled by Legolas (Orlando Bloom) and Tauriel (Evangeline Lilly)

Meanwhile, Gandalf has split from the group with Radagast (Sylvester McCoy) to find the Necromacer, also known as Sauron. Before getting to Lonely Mountain, Bilbo and the dwarves must go through the burgh of Laketown with the help of Bard, (Luke Evans) to get weapons.  Thorin also tries to negotiate the return of Laketown to the dwarves, Thorin promises to share the gold from Lonely Mountain with the people of Laketown.  They accept Thorin’s proposal. By the  time Bilbo and the dwarves gets to Lonely Mountain, the sun is setting, and they cannot find the keyhole.  Bilbo has the ring which gives him invisibility, but will he get a chance to use it against Smaug?  Does Gandalf find Sauron?

The last 40 minutes if the Desolation of Smaug is well worth watching.  The chemistry between Freeman and Cumberbatch crackles with tension.  Getting to that last 40 minutes, however is a long, hard slog.  Peter Jackson has again taken a simple story, and made it a bloated, unrecognizable mess.  He could have scaled back on Legolas and Tauriel, he could have scaled back on Laketown and skipped the love triangle between Legolas, Tauriel and Kili altogether, but all the minutia was there.  I haven’t read the Hobbit or any other Tolkien, but all the minutia made for dull watching.  The problem is, every sci-fi movie since Star Wars has to be an epic trilogy, the Lord of the Rings was an epic trilogy, so the movie makers, for purely pecuniary reasons, made the Hobbit a trilogy, and it’s the audience who suffers.  The Hobbit movies also suffer by comparison to the Lord of the Rings trilogy which was a rich tapestry of story and characters, which built to an incredible climax, the Hobbit will never match the magic of the Lord of the Rings movies.

The acting is fine, especially by Cumberbatch, Freeman, and Ian McKellen.  The movie is best when the three are on screen.  When the movie shifts away from the three characters they play, the movie suffers.  Evangeline Lilly and Orlando Bloom do their best, but their storyline just didn’t interest me.   Richard Armitage is pretty forgettable as Thorin.

The pacing is very slow at points, and I noticed that the landscapes, which were pretty spectacular in the first Hobbit movie, were somewhat ordinary, the CGI budget seemed mostly to be poured into the talking spiders, and Smaug, and I must say, Smaug is a special effects marvel, but still not spectacular enough to maintain a 2 hour and 20 minute movie.

The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug.  Still draggin’ along


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