The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug (Film Review)

Dec 14, 2013
Last year's 'An Unexpected Journey' ended up to be slightly disappointing. What should have been a great introduction for a trilogy turned out to be an unexpected mess. It had it's moments sure I can point that out, but I can't help but to argue about it's pacing issues and a jarring running time. This year, Bilbo Baggins and the rest of Thorin Oakenshield's company are back in 'The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug', a sequel that the first film should have been. Thankfully, pacing were just right, less CGI orcs and Radagast, and a thrilling experience all the way through. 

The film starts with a prologue/ flashback in the city of Bree, where Thorin Oakenshield formally meet Gandalf the Grey for the first time. To par with the LOTR opening scenes, this remained effective as we know more about Thorin's character and how all things started before it all happened. We then cut through the continuation of the company's journey and our short scene with half-human/ half-bear Beorn. This scene, however, needed to be longer than it should have been.

First, we didn't really know what this Beorn is actually up to. And second, he deserved more screentime as he is a big sequence in the final film (you know what I mean if you've read the book). It almost felt like he was shoehorned just for the sake that he's on the book. Hopefully, the Extended Edition will get this fixed. Since this trilogy is adapted off a very short book, and all three films expected to be more-or-less 3 hours long, it is expected to see new characters and a lot of back-stories.

Orlando Bloom reprises his role as Legolas, and obviously perfect for the role. I somehow wonder what he's up to now. Lee Pace as Thranduil, it's not that bad nor great. For me, it looked like he's acting a bit too strange and have a single emotion in the film. But the film's greatest feat is Evangeline Lilly's Tauriel. She's bad-ass, beautiful and almost seems unnecessary at the same time. Did Peter Jackson created this character for the sake of more action scenes or to provide a love triangle between her, Legolas and Kili? But sure she's a great addition in the Middle-earth universe and Lilly delivered a strong performance.

Returning for the role of Bilbo Baggins was Martin Freeman, and my word what a performance he brought. You get to see him mature and serious throughout the journey and the after effects of seeing the One Ring consuming him added a lot to his character. Too bad he didn't get more screentime unlike the other characters. Ian McKellen was always a delight as Gandalf. Still, gave a remarkable performance. And Richard Armitage delivered a fantastic performance as Thorin. The great thing about his character in this movie is the fact that he is developed perfectly that the audiences were so engrossed over him compared to the previous film. Benedict Cumberbatch as Smaug. Simply bad-ass. His voice alone was a beast, I mean terrifyingly menacing. The film's climax also is something to look up to as the dwarfs are fighting off Smaug in an awesome showdown that got me geeking out.

The film, however, got it's slow moments, notably the Lake-town sequence. Everything was all fast and great, the barrel sequence (which looked like a video game demo because its ridiculously fun), Smaug finding out about the Necromancer at Dol Guldur, the Mirkwood scene until we got here. The scenes with the town's master needed to be shorten down since it was a bit unnecessary. Bard the Bowman though was amazingly portrayed by Luke Evans so I have to credit him for that one. After all things happened, Smaug was fighting with the dwarfs, flew away and end credits started rolling. Yes, as expected, another cliffhanger happened, but this one got me questioned. So, will the third movie primarily focus on the Battle of Five Armies? Will it have the same running time as the first two considering the remaining chapters are few.

I saw the film two times. One at a regular theater and another at Dolby Atmos theater with the HFR 3D setup. Seeing 'An Unexpected Journey' on 48 fps as well, this format was more improved and sharpened. The were scenes that worked in this format (notably the Barrel sequence and the climax), and if you're gonna ask me about the 3D, I have to say a 2D format will do better.

'The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug' is everything the first film should have been. The action scenes made a big punch, providing a sense of joy and delight all the way through. It's emotionally right and downright epic.

The geek rates it 8.7/10.
'The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug' is now showing on 2D, HFR 3D, and IMAX.

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