So here we are in December with the second instalment in the Hobbit series of films with The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug. While I have been waiting for this film for ages, with all the other big films that were also coming out earlier this year I had forgotten about this one for a while. But now considering how lame 2013 has been for films in general, I need a film that’s gonna be truly awesome. So is The Desolation of Smaug the one? Read on and find out.
The storyline in nutshell continues the events of An Unexpected Journey, in which the hobbit Bilbo Baggins travels with the wizard Gandalf and a company of thirteen dwarves led by Thorin Oakenshield into the Kingdom of Erebor, taking them through Mirkwood, Esgaroth, and Dale to combat with the dragon Smaug.
Unlike the first film where the film felt the need to make obviously tie-ins to the Lord of the Rings films and had a lot of slow pacing issues, this film throws you right into the story and is delivered a lot quicker while still providing moments of humour, action and drama. This feels a lot more like the Middle-Earth adventures that fans knew from before thanks to the much-needed injection of a proper threat, elves and proper foreshadowing. Bilbo, Gandalf and the dwarves’ adventures gets ever more complicated thanks to the evil that rises in the shadows with villains new and old on show for them to overcome and it is simply fascinating and entertaining to watch. While I still don’t think the story was as powerful as anything LOTR has done and the film only really gets interesting once the elves show up, otherwise the story is a solid improvement.
The cast in this film is nothing short of fantastic as members new and old deliver some great performances. Martin Freeman as Bilbo Baggins has certainly grown since the last film, he’s more cunning, confident and courageous, but still has great funny scenes thanks to Freeman’s comedic timing. Sir Ian McKellen is still as awesome as ever as Gandalf the Grey, McKellen’s acting talents know no bounds as he has some really cool scenes and dialogue too. Richard Armitage is still a badass as Thorin Oakenshield, you can see that he is a man still on a mission and will stop at nothing to get his homeland back. Armitage still has an incredible screen presence and offers a lot of varied emotions for Thorin in this film. Also Graham McTavish as Dwalin and Ken Stott as Balin were awesome thanks to some additional screen time, the same can also be said for Aidan Turner as Kíli and James Nesbitt as Bofur too.
So after years of doing nothing of importance, Orlando Bloom returns as Legolas and my god he is BADASS! This is a very different kind of Legolas, he’s much more of brute and he’s not as chilled out as he is in LOTR, but that’s what makes him so cool in this film and it is great to see Bloom in a role that suits him so well. Then there’s Evangeline Lilly as Tauriel, I think I’m in love. Tauriel is a beautiful as she is deadly, Lily is great giving us a character who is tough, perceptive, but also a bit of a free spirit too. Luke Evans is another good addition to this world as Bard the Bowman, Evans had a great deal of charisma for his role and was definitely someone not to be messed with and you could understand what the deal was with this character considering his history. Also Lee Pace as Thranduil is a lot better this time because of the additional screen time he gets to show off why he is who he is, he is very calm and yet cruel, uncaring of other but very protective of his kind, Pace was really cool. Even Stephen Fry is good as Master of Lake-town.
But the main person we need to talk about is Benedict Cumberbatch as Smaug, MY GOD! I swear everything he touches turns to gold. Cumberbatch basically delivers a gorgeous, charismatic and intense performance which makes you believe that Cumberbatch is truly invincible. Smaug is this beast of a dragon who is such confident, intimidating, scary and badass kind of villain you need in these types of films. The voice alone is enough to send shivers down your spine, but I think in addition to the motion capture Benedict kind, it just adds to the overall performance. Best person in the film by miles!
When it comes to the presentation, one word comes to mind… GORGEOUS! I think you tell that I’m talking about the visuals here haha. Honestly I thought Gravity was the most visually impressive film I’ve ever seen, but The Desolation of Smaug proves once again that fantasy beats reality any day. An Unexpected Journey was already looked incredible, but this film provided some simply stunning material with a great use of action, locations and CGI. And speaking of the CGI, the visual effects used for Smaug are nothing short of AMAZING! Never has there been a dragon portrayed in such a magnificent, grand and scary manner before, the scale, motion-capture and movements looked so astonishing, the film is worth watch just for him alone. I also want to touch upon the fact that I watched this in IMAX 3D in 48 frames and the end result is kind of mixed. While it is definitely an interesting concept, I don’t think the world need this doubled-up frame rate, it looks fin in scene that don’t move that face, but in scenes with a lot of movement, everything moves far too quickly and looks unnatural. Also the soundtrack by Howard Shore is sounds really good with some nice tie-ins to his previous themes in LOTR but also provides some really epic and beautiful new compositions in this film.
In conclusion The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug is a bloody fine film which improves upon the last film with better pacing, better characters new and old, a more in-depth story, and an incredible dragon that should rock your world. This film is a visual treat and should definitely be seen in IMAX, and while it’s no LOTR, nor did it blow me knock my socks off in the way I wanted it to, The Desolation of Smaug is worth watching, no doubt about it. Again, HAIL CUMBERBATCH! 😀
Rating: 9/10 (Benedict Cumberbatch + Smaug the dragon = Awesomeness)
So what did you think of The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug? Was it better, on-par or worst than the last instalment in your opinion? Whatever your thoughts, drop them in the comments below and I’ll see ya on the next film review! 😀