The Hobbit: The Desolation Of Smaug

20140109-140208.jpg

Director: Peter Jackson.
Screenplay: Peter Jackson, Guillermo del Toro, Fran Walsh, Philippa Boyens.
Starring: Martin Freeman, Richard Armitage, Benedict Cumberbatch, Ian McKellan, Evangeline Lilly, Orlando Bloom, Luke Evans, Lee Pace, Ken Stott, Graham McTavish, Aidan Turner, James Nesbitt, William Kircher, Stephen Hunter, Dean O’Gorman, John Callen, Peter Hambleton, Jed Brophy, Mark Hadlow, Adam Brown, Sylvester McCoy, Mikael Persbrandt, Stephen Fry, Ryan Gage, Cate Blanchett.

Truly songs and tales fall utterly short of your enormity, O Smaug the Stupendous…

Now a year down the line, the residing question of whether Peter Jackson’s decision to adapt “The Hobbit” into a trilogy was a wise choice or not, has become a little easier to answer. I’d have to say, that he can probably feel somewhat vindicated as his vision seems to be working. That being said, there’s still an abundance of padding and repetition going on in this second instalment – just as there was in the first – but Jackson has definitely improved here by ironing out the creases a little more.

20140109-141200.jpg

Now fully on their journey to Erabor and the Kingdom under the mountain, Bilbo (Martin Freeman) and the dwarves must find their way through a dark, arachnid filled forest before escaping the clutches of Elfin King Thranduil (Lee Pace) and a horde of rampaging Orcs. All this before they’ve even faced their biggest adversary yet… “the serpent of the north”.

20140109-141243.jpg

With all the character building already established in “The Unexpected Journey” and the omission of the drawn out and, frankly, tedious songs, Jackson finds his feet on more solid ground here. These aforementioned hang-up’s are what hindered the pace of the first instalment but with them now put to the side, we are allowed to enter the fray from the outset which benefits the film immeasurably. Once again, Jackson shows his highly creative abilities in staging an action set-piece and that’s where most of the enjoyment comes from. He introduces some new (and old) characters that really kick things up a gear, especially the inclusion (or invention) of Evangeline Lilly’s elfin warrior Tauriel, who adds a much needed strong female character to the proceedings and Orlando Bloom’s Legolas makes a welcome return. It’s both of these characters who contribute greatly to a high speed river chase that’s one of the film’s most impressive and exciting action sequences. Speaking of which, there are many moments that are marvellously and thrillingly handled; the giant spiders in the forest to Gandalf’s confrontation with the Necromancer and the showdown with Smaug as Thorin Oakenshield (Richard Armitage) storms the mountain to reclaim his throne. Although exceptionally handled they do have a tendency to feel relentless and leave very little room for actual storytelling or characterisation.

20140109-141332.jpg

Martin Freeman is still perfectly suited for Bilbo but there’s so much going on around him that he seems like a side character in his own story. Much of the focus is on the dwarves and even then, very few of them actually get to really bring their characters forth, with the exception of Armitage’s Thorin and the fragility of his strong facade. The absence of Andy Serkis’ Gollum is also a major drawback but Jackson does have an ace up his sleeve with the astounding motion capture of Benedict Cumberbatch as the fearsome dragon, Smaug.

20140109-141646.jpg

It’s through exploring the darker territory of Smaug or the Necromancer that Jackson’s willingness to gain momentum is apparent. The laborious nature of the first is tightened up and there’s no denying this one’s energy or it’s ability to entertain. Despite being overlong, things are kept very exciting and Jackson maintains your interest right up until the final moment where we close on a blank screen… frustratingly, awaiting part three. But then, this is what we have come to expect with the, sometimes awkward, middle section of a trilogy.

20140109-141719.jpg

Despite some of the criticisms I heard (and shared) about “The Unexpected Journey“, I still thoroughly enjoyed the film and, ultimately, that’s the whole point. It’s escapism of the highest kind. With this being an improvement on that, it still boasts well for the trilogy to go out with a bang, in the way “The Lord of the Rings” done so brilliantly.

20140109-155256.jpg

Mark Walker

Trivia: Martin Freeman and Benedict Cumberbatch filmed their roles while on hiatus from their television series Sherlock (2010). Stephen Fry played Sherlock’s brother Mycroft in Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows (2011), while Christopher Lee (Sauron) played Sherlock in two other films as well as playing Mycroft in The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes (1970), which also featured Robert Stephens (Aragorn on BBC Radio) as Holmes.

Advertisements

50 Responses to “The Hobbit: The Desolation Of Smaug”

  1. I’m glad you liked this as much as you did. A part of me wishes I had liked it as you. Alas, I didn’t. I don’t exactly hate it, but I also don’t particularly like it.

    Anyway, it’s good your experience was more positive.

    (Incidentally, I’ll have the Killing Season review to you later today.)

    Like

    • Yeah, I had a lot of fun with this James. It was certainly flawed as the first one was but excellent entertainment. I can’t really fault Jackson too much. He’s doing a good job.

      Like

  2. Brilliant review. I agree for the most part. I didn’t think it was overlong, I didn’t want it to end. I actually feel this film had significantly more character development than it’s predecessor. I felt like I knew the dwarfs better in this film. Lastly I loved the songs in The Unexpected Journey, Misty Mountains was phenomenal.

    Like

    • Cheers Chris. I did find a bit too long but still really enjoyed it. The characters took a back seat to the action for me, but it’s not a massive complaint and I have to admit, I wasn’t keen on the songs from the first one. I was glad to see them go.

      Like

  3. I don’t know if I’m 100% in on this one. It’s hard enough for me to sit still for a 90 minute movie….

    Good work, Muckers!

    Like

  4. Hi Mark! Just upvoted your review on Reddit, glad you enjoyed this as much as I did! Nice bit of trivia too, Sherlock + Watson together as Smaug + Bilbo are one of my fave scenes! Escapism of the best kind for me too, always love to return to Middle Earth.

    Btw, would love to hear your opinion on my current post πŸ˜‰

    Like

    • Hey Ruth. Thanks for the up vote. Yeah, great entertainment this one. I enjoy visiting middle earth myself and Jackson done a tighter job on this. It’s was slightly overlong but not quite as laborious as the first.

      I’ll certainly swing by on your recent post when I get a chance. πŸ™‚

      Like

  5. Bravo! Good stuff Mark! I really liked this movie and thought it was a nice step up from the first picture. It had a much grander sense of adventure and the ending was definitely more exciting than the first film. Glad to hear you enjoyed it too!

    Like

  6. Awesome! So happy to hear you enjoyed this one as much as I did! Cumberbatch’s Smaug is incredible and the film really is notches above its predecessor. Excellent article Mark :).

    Like

  7. Can’t say I like this trilogy. Yes, grand. Yes, special effects create awesome world. Yes, pure escapism. So what is it that has me bored watching it? I used to love these types of films. I really loved the Two Towers. But with Smaug, I just kept looking at my watch, rather like watching the Clash and Wrath of the Titans–I hate it when spectacular is boring. It must be me. Just felt like same-old-same-old. Perhaps it’s just me getting old! πŸ˜‰

    Like

    • Sorry to hear it didn’t work for you Cindy. I can definitely understand your feelings with regards to the first instalment but I thought this one moved at quite a quick pace, despite its length. To be fair, I was a big fan of the books so there is an element of self-indulgence for me.

      Like

  8. I can understand how people have fun with the film and it is an escape and all, but I can’t understand the continually high scores for the film. From a technical standpoint, it’s a mess. The story is dragged out like none other, it’s full of unnecessary scenes and characters, and the CGI looks so damn bad it almost ruins Middle Earth entirely. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again- Jackson is the new Lucas.

    Like

    • Ouch! I wouldn’t quite say Jackson is as bad as Lucas these days but you do make some valid points. Some of the CGI was questionable at times but I thought it still looked great and Smaug was brilliant. Overlong for sure but I still love the story. Good to see you stop by, as always, Nick. πŸ™‚

      Like

  9. Good review Mark. Still feels longer than it should be, but here’s to hoping that not only can Jackson cut-down on the run-time a bit for this next one, but that he can also deliver the same old magic we used to love him for.

    Like

  10. Nice review, Mark. Definitely an improvement on the first. It’s not perfect, but it’s a damn entertaining movie, quite possibly the most overall entertaining out of all the Rings movies IMO, and so it hit it big with me. πŸ™‚

    Like

  11. This was so much better than the first one, which I dozed off in both times I watched it. It was definitely helped by increased action and better pacing.

    Like

  12. Well written, Mark. I was pretty leery of the run time after seeing the first, but I don’t think I found myself looking at my watch (phone) a single time during this one. I read somewhere that someone described this as less of a tale of a hobbit’s journey, and more of a prequel to LOTR. I think I agree with that after seeing this, and the greater emphasis the one ring has than it does in the books. Love all the additions though that Jackson has placed in there so far.

    Like

    • Thanks Gene! This is definitely more like it from Jackson and the whole middle earth story. It is starting to look more and more like the marvellous rings trilogy and that’s always a good thing. I reckon the third one is going to kick it up even higher which will tie in nicely.

      Like

  13. Popcorn Nights Says:

    That’s a good review Mark, and I’m not just saying that because I happen to agree with it wholeheartedly! I enjoyed this a little more than the first one (which I also liked despite the faults). Looking forward to the next one now.

    Like

    • Thanks Stu. Coming from yourself and your great writing, that means a lot. To be honest, I struggled a little with this review. I had to really force myself. Nothing was really flowing the way I wanted it to but my opinion still stands regardless of how I wrote it.
      Can’t wait for the next one now too, though. It’s looking quite good for a strong finish.

      Like

  14. I’m so glad you loved this one! I did too! My take on it will be up on Saturday. It IS a little hard to write about this one I think. But it needed to be done. I’m in a hectic need-to-toss-down-all-the-2013-movie-reviews-currently-in-my-head so I can make a top list of 2013…

    Like

    • I did find this one hard to talk about Jessica. I liked the first one even though many had a hatred for it. This follow up is definitely an improvement and easy to see why some wouldn’t take to it. If you let yourself go, though, this does provide the goods. I generally don’t make top ten lists but I still want to see everything before I would even consider such a thought.

      Like

  15. “Escapism of the highest kind” sums it up nicely Mark. Very enjoyable read as always as great trivia!

    Like

    • Indeed, my man! Escapism is the order of the day here and for that, it can’t be faulted. I had a lot of fun and can’t really criticise the film. It’s an achievement in my eyes.

      Like

  16. Wow! Great review Mark, and I am thrilled to see that you enjoyed it so much. I must admit that I am going to wait for this and won’t be seeing it in theatre, I was really not a fan of the original or the direction that this film’s story arc was in for!

    Like

  17. Top review mate and pretty much spot on. I just love the world of Middle Earth and I thought this was a definite improvement over the first. It’s still a bit long and padded but I can overlook that. Really looking forward to part 3 now.

    Like

  18. Great review, I had a brilliant time watching this film πŸ˜€

    Its still a bit too long but if I had to stay in any imaginary world middle earth isn’t too bad ;D

    Smaug stole the show and I am glad he did, great visuals and just an all over better film than the first hobbit, hope the trend continues into part 3 πŸ˜€

    Like

  19. Great to hear The Hobbit “2” shapes up well. I enjoyed the first film despite Jackson stringing out the material for three hours. I still don’t see why these films have to be so long which puts me off seeing it in the cinema.

    Like

  20. This instalment is still flabby in parts but I agree, it is certainly a stronger step in the right direction. I hope final edition to the trilogy is as visually epic as I think its going to be. Again, great review fella

    Like

    • Thanks again, Allan. Yeah it does have its faults but it’s a lot more tighter than the first. Here’s hoping Jackson can tighten it up further for the last instalment and go out with a bang.

      Like

  21. Great write-up my friend, although I will not be in a theater showing any of Peter Jackson’s work. Overindulgence is spelt P-e-t-e-r . . .well, you get the idea. πŸ˜€ lol

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: