The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug
Directed by Peter Jackson
Starring Martin Freeman, Sir Ian McKellen, Richard Armitage, Evangeline Lilly, Orlando Bloom
Review by Jordan
The feverish anticipation that surrounds the release of a new Lord of the Rings film is unlike any other that has ever accompanied a cinematic outing. The promise of re-entering Middle Earth has, since we first witnessed the brilliance of Jackson’s translations with The Fellowship of the Ring in 2001, induced excitement comparable with few other movies of any era, and not once has the great New Zealander let us down… The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey (2012, see my review here) reveled in its silliness and perhaps stands as the weakest entry so far, but it was also, ultimately a fantastic, well natured sprawling adventure, which The Desolation of Smaug bests in every way.
Following Bilbo (an ever-improving Martin Freeman), Thorin (Richard Armitage), Galdalf (McKellen) and the rest of our likable crew as they continue their treacherous journey to Erebor where the formidable, lethal Smaug (wonderfully voiced by Benedict Cumberbatch) awaits, TDOS may not stand as a complete film in its own right as does The Two Towers, but the maturity, brilliant choreography, music and cinematography instilled, as well as the inclusion of fan favourite Legolas (Orlando Bloom) and newcomers Tauriel (Evangaline Lilly), an enchanting elf who falls for Dwarf Kili (Aidan Turner), and the mysterious and obviously awesome Bard (Luke Evans) elevate it to the upper echelon of Summer entertainment. From a quiet moment of wonder in which Bilbo lifts his head above a treacherous, giant arachnid-filled forest to appreciate the surrounding dense landscape, to our Dwarf heroes escaping Elven imprisonment and rampaging Orcs by careening down a cascading river in wooden barrels and the confrontation with the titular beast, this is a fantasy that forces the eyes to widen and mouth to smile in all the right ways.
Sure, there is a lot of filler here, as there was with An Unexpected Journey, but unlike other series that seem to continue solely in order to rake in the money at the expense of quality, The Hobbit movies are never less than grand and never cease to conjure increasing interest… needless to say, There and Back Again (2014) has a lot of ground to cover, numerous enemies to dispatch and a number of loose ends to tie up… and I can’t wait.
Don’t approach The Hobbit movies hoping for levels of seriousness and moments of peril comparable to Boromir’s death in The Fellowship of the Ring and the Battle of Helms Deep in The Two Towers, or the sheer perfection that won The Return of the King its 11 Oscars, just expect 3 hours of escapist fun and there should be no possibility of disappointment. On a personal note, it’s not every blockbuster that I buy the personalized candy stand meal-deal for, but my new Hobbit coke cup is sitting on my bench with pride.
4 fish barrels out of 5