The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug

Dwarves, dragons and Hobbits, oh my! A review of the second installation in The Hobbit movie trilogy.

The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug premiered at midnight on December 13 and as I watched the newest movie of my favorite series, I was very impressed. The Desolation of Smaug, to me, easily surpassed The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey with thrills, suspense, action, CGI animation and humor.

In this sequel to The Hobbit, Bilbo Baggins and the company of dwarves continue their journey through Bree and come to the Elven Path in the forest of Mirkwood. Cinematic effects that Jackson used worked out beautifully. When the company had lost the path they had tried so hard to stay on, Bilbo became dizzy, his vision went blurry and distorted and their voices bounced around the trees and echoed around them, it even had me confused which way was where.

Fancy tricks with time lapse and slow motion looked cool, but just the appearance of the creatures that the Bilbo and the company encountered was amazing. An army of truck-sized spiders planning to make them dinner made my skin crawl.Then, Beorn, the skin-changer that turns into a bear the size of a small cottage, left some ladies in my theater actually screaming.

Yet, the best of all those monstrous creatures was Smaug. It’s easy to see why Jackson kept him hidden for awhile, keeping the focus on Bilbo when Smaug was awoken and only showing his tail, claws or head at a time. When a full body shot of Smaug was finally revealed it was absolutely breathtaking. I think Smaug was by far the biggest, most fearful, yet beautiful dragon they could make. I can’t think of a more perfect voice for him, either, than Benedict Cumberbatch. Cumberbatch did an outstanding job of sounding like a horrific dragon, yet in a calm and hypnotic way.

The movie was not all suspense and action; there was the perfect amount of humor, including one of the chubbier dwarves taking down orcs in a barrel, Kili the dwarf suggesting to Tauriel the female elf to check his trousers and Bilbo suffering the smelly breath of Smaug in a high tension moment.

I had some mixed feelings with Jackson changing events that had happened in the book. Tauriel was completely made for The Desolation of Smaug, as producers thought a dynamic female lead was needed. Legolas was not originally in The Hobbit and Kili getting injured and not being able to go with the rest of the dwarves to the Lonely Mountain did not happen in the book. However, the biggest surprise was the blossoming love between Kili and Tauriel, who were two different species. It seems we will have to wait until next December for The Hobbit: There and Back Again to see how their love unfolds.

As much as I liked this movie, the last half an hour could have been better. The story flopped back and forth between Gandalf trying to lift the spell at Dul Guldur, Bilbo and the dwarves trying to defeat Smaug in the mountain and Kili back at Laketown becoming sick from his infected injury. It cut off at abrupt parts and changed between the three scenes frequently for a long time. The very end, however, was a great cliffhanger – I didn’t even realize the movie was over until the credits were rolling!

To say I loved this movie would be an understatement and I already cannot wait until next December for The Hobbit: There and Back Again.

The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug is scheduled for DVD release in April, 2014.

Warner Bros