The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug is the continuation of the Peter Jackson trilogy, based on the fantasy novel by J.R.R. Tolkien.
After waiting for a year after the original film, titled The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, the second part of the trilogy doesn’t waste any time delving into action that resumes the saga of the dwarves, led by fearless, ambitious Thorin Oakenshield, played by Richard Armitage, in an excellent portrayal as they get closer to their lost home of Erebor in the Misty Mountains.
There lays Smaug, the Dragon, voiced and played in motion capture by thesp Benedict Cumberbatch. The dormant giant is zealously protecting what he has taken from the pint-sized group of 13 and their people.
Smaug is most likely the best dragon ever made in movies. The fact that Jackson decided to
use motion capture for this character makes its movements more natural than if it was digitally created. Coupled with the haunting voice, what we get is a terrifying creature.
As the Unexpected Journey for Bilbo Baggins, the hobbit, (Martin Freeman) continues, we meet some crucial characters that will have a major impact on whether the dwarves reclaim their lost home or not.
The film starts 12 months prior to the current adventures, when the Wizard Gandalf (Ian McKellen) meets Thorin and urges him to return to his rightful place in the Kingdom of Erebor.
This meeting sets in motion the events we were introduced to in The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, and takes us right back into this seemingly impossible task of destroying the dragon.
Thorin is driven, more than ever, to reclaim what was taken from him all those years ago – but this time, we see a more obsessed character who doesn’t listen to reason and chooses to do things his own way.
His only objective is to return to his home, lost to the ruthless beast. But this could bring death and destruction of the most horrible kind, to the hard working people that decide to help his company.
Thorin’s actions also lead to some conflict within the tight dwarves, as he presses on blindly to reach the Misty Mountains.
The themes of loyalty, greed, pride, and determination are a central part of the story. Everyone has something to lose’ if the dormant dragon is awoken, they’re all out for themselves.
The casting in the film is top notch. All characters have strong presence when they are on screen; it is almost impossible to find a weak link in this ensemble Peter Jackson has put together. Did you see his cameo? The audience giggled.
New characters that were not in The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey are the Elves, led by their cold King, Thranduil (Lee Pace), who is not convinced he should get involved with the pack of dwarves. He has other interests that play in his decision.
Alongside the Elven King, we meet the kick ass Tauriel (Evangeline Lilly), who is a lethal fighter and becomes the center of a love triangle. This was a controversial character, since she is not in the Tolkien novel. However, Peter Jackson explained he wanted a strong female to counteract the mostly male cast.
Orlando Bloom returns as Legolas from that other Peter Jackson trilogy, The Lord Of The Rings (there were gasps of delight when he first comes on scene). It is good to see him in the long, straight blonde hair again.
The Elves dislike the dwarves, but with Tauriel emotionally involved after a rocky start to their relationship, they change their mind and end up helping them escape the frightening Orc pack, who are hot on their heels.
The barrel scene was everything one could have expected from it – pure genius.
As the dwarves struggle to continue in their journey, they come across the only human main character, Bard the Bowman (Luke Evans is terrific), who the actor has described as a “Robin Hood” type hero. The man is very concerned with the needs of his people who are struggling to survive in Laketown, after it was also destroyed by Smaug long ago.
When he first meets the dwarves, Bard is not convinced whether they are trustworthy or not; but in the end, he decides to help them after being offered a fee he can hardly refuse, without knowing his actions can change the destiny of his people and, more importantly, his three children forever.
Once again, Martin Freeman is fantastic as the Hobbit Bilbo Baggins; a mix of cleverness and cluelessness makes him endearing. This time around, he is more assertive because he knows things nobody else does.
Bilbo’s presence is crucial to the dwarves, and he saves their neck on more than one occasion. However, Thorin’s ambitions puts them at odds at times, and he is prepared to do without him if he must.
Peter Jackson has put together a masterpiece of stunning visual effects and excellent performances all around and, of course, the ending – which we won’t give away – leaves you begging for more. A cliffhanger that sets up the conclusion of the saga next year in The Hobbit: Here And Back Again, the final chapter of the trilogy.
The second installment is set in a darker place. There are few funny moments, and the impending face-off between all of the characters that have for so long hated one another, promises to be all the more fierce as the stories of rivalries and betrayal are revealed. However, it’s full of action packed scenes, which is sure to please audiences.
The casting in The Hobbit: The Desolation Of Smaug is truly brilliant and we hope to see some nominations in the acting department this year. They would be very well deserved.
For those who have waited a lifetime, or the ones that have been looking forward to meeting Smaug, the dragon for the last couple of years, you won’t be disappointed.
All in all, a must see, especially if you are a “ringer” and saw the first installment. If you didn’t, you should see it before watching this new chapter in the story.
As Luke Evans told me, “The Hobbit: The Desolation Of Smaug stands alone as an action/adventure epic movie. It’s visually stunning, and the 3D is incredible. Plus it’s directed by Peter Jackson, and he’s extraordinary.”