Review: The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug
The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug is the second installment in Peter Jackson’s trilogy and continues the adventure of the title character Bilbo Baggins as he journeys with the Wizard Gandalf the Grey (Ian McKellan) and thirteen Dwarves, led by Thorin Oakenshield (Richard Armitage) on an epic quest to reclaim the Lonely Mountain and the lost Dwarf Kingdom of Erebor.
The movie is fast paced, with never a dull moment despite being close to three hours and doesn’t fail to keep its audience. Whether a die-hard Tolkien fanatic or objective spectator – you’ll be riveted throughout and thoroughly entertained thanks to all the drama, action and suspense. There’s comedic moments too, 13 Dwarves sailing down the river in wine barrels is certainly a sight to be seen. And even a touch of romance, the attraction between an Elf and a Dwarf is not as implausible as it seems.
Martin Freeman’s comedy experience continues to serve him well in the title role as he gives a humble and stoic performance. Having survived the beginning of their Unexpected Journey, Bilbo Baggins and the Dwarves continue travelling east, robustly enduring a perilous and adventurous journey. And boy is it perilous! Encountering a swarm of giant spiders in the treacherous forest of Mirkwood, hunted by Azog and his Orcs, running afoul and then captured by Elves. After escaping from their Elven imprisonment, the company journey to Lake-town, with a little help from Bard the Bowman (Luke Evans) where they encounter conflict from the town’s shifty Master, played by Stephen Fry. But Bilbo and a certain ring manage to save the day on several occasions with his sturdy quick thinking and hardy sense of survival.
The story quickly changes pace throughout and one of the best, most captivating scenes is the barrel sequence where the Elves’s archery skills are put to the test as they defend the Dwarves, ironically their recent prisoners against a mutual enemy, the Orcs, in a chase scene rife with action.
Gandalf played magnificently by Ian McKellan, diverts from the company to proceed his own mission when he discovers that there is an even greater evil brewing in Middle-earth when he encounters The Necromancer of Dol Guldur – which is the first sign of the return of Sauron, the villain from The Lord of the Rings trilogy.
Eventually the company reach their goal: the Lonely Mountain and the lost Dwarf treasure. This is where our favourite Hobbit meets Smaug, the titular and spectacular dragon, who is mean natured with keen senses and of course fire spewing lungs, sneeringly voiced by Benedict Cumberbatch, who also voices the Necromancer. The last half hour of the film dedicates the majority of it time to the Hobbit’s and the Dwarves action-packed encounter with Smaug, who is far superior to other movie dragons, as the company attempt to defeat the dragon and reclaim what is rightfully theirs.
A stellar supporting cast including an unrecognisable Stephen Fry as the grumpy Master of Lake-town. Orlando Bloom reprises his role as Legolas, with the same agile stealth and precision archery skills as seen in the LOTR Trilogy. Plus Tauriel, the beautiful but deadly Elf, a character created just for the movie, who serves as the captain of the Elvenking’s guard, is perfectly executed by Evangeline Lilly.
To sum up
The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug is an epic saga that picks up the pace of the first installment. It takes you on journey nuanced with adventure, twists and turns and quirky characters. Whilst many were left underwhelmed after the first movie, the second movie raises the bar and doesn’t fail to keep its audience captivated from the gripping start to the breathtaking finale that will leave you very excited for the final chapter in the trilogy.
The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug is out in cinemas now.