The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug (2013, 2 hrs 41 mins)
New Year’s Eve, I went to see the second installment of the Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug. I really enjoyed the first one, and you can read about that here, but I have to say, I am somewhat unimpressed by the second offering.
We continue the story as the Dwarves are still pursued by the Orcs; Bilbo (Martin Freeman) is learning of the powerful effects the ring has on him; Gandalf (Ian McKellen) searches for the impending evil that is spreading and finally revealed; the Dwarves search for the Arkenstone to reclaim their homeland Erebor which is guarded by the powerful dragon Smaug; and the Wood Elves get involved, introducing tough girl elf Tauriel ( Evangeline Lily). There are giant spiders to battle, a budding romance between dwarf Kili (Aidan Turner) and Tauriel, and new characters like Bard the Bowman played by the very handsome Luke Evans, and Stephen Fry as the Master of the Laketown.
Tauriel was created because there weren’t enough female characters in the story, so I think she is a welcomed addition. I thought Lily did a great job as the feisty and determined head of the Mirkwood Elven guard. It was interesting to see Legolas (Orlando Bloom) as more of a jerk this time around, as he mirrored his father, Elven King Thranduil (Lee Pace), who is ambiguous with his motives. Freeman gave us a darker Bilbo as the character realizes the hold the ring has on him, and the dwarves were as entertaining as always.
My number one issue with this film lies with the fact that it is a trilogy and the fans have to wait another year to see the conclusion. This trend is losing it’s charm and I am seeing it as a money grab I resent. And while I was excited for the second film, I now find the waiting game also takes away from the flow of the story as a whole. And speaking of flow, this movie was noticeably long! I don’t think the pace was as good as the first film, so it felt tedious at some points, in fact, I have a confession to make. During the keyhole scene, I dozed off. I don’t know if it was the quality of the projection system at the theatre, or because the movie is just really physically dark, but that scene literally put me to sleep. Figuratively speaking, I understand that this portion of the trilogy is not as happy-go-lucky as the first, but jeez! Does all that intrigue have to be so drawn out?
I did, however, really enjoyed Smaug, voiced by Benedict Cumberbatch. That sweet talking dragon stole the show. And when he went 24k gold? Magnificent! This pixie loves shiny things, so now I want a golden Smaug. The Escher-esque dragon’s lair was really well done, and the animation of the dragon was so beautiful, I could have looked at Smaug’s face all day. And since we’re on the creature subject, I definitely got my fill, with Orcs and their weird dog/wolf rides, the giant spiders and the skin changer Beorn (Mikael Persbrandt).
The Desolation of Smaug is a necessary evil. It’s like prepping for an exam because you know that the holiday break comes after it. Go see it because if you follow the story, you kind of have to, but let’s hope the final film, The Hobbit: There and Back Again, ties everything up nicely…or I’ll be pissed.