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The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug

December 29, 2013

hobbit2

Smug dragons, barrel battles and one arrow killing two orcs. The Desolation of Smaug is proof that Peter Jackson has course corrected the series and given it some urgency and emotional heft. The Hobbit got the ball rolling and now Jackson is able to unleash fantastic set pieces and broaden the scope of Middle Earth. I love that this seemingly intimate journey involving 13 dwarves, a grey wizard and a curmudgeonly Hobbit will ultimately lead to battles involving five armies, a lost ring and a very angry dragon.

The story continues as Thorin Oakenshield and his motley crew of Dwarves continue their quest to reclaim their kingdom. The orcs are meaner, the evil greater and action scenes bigger. There is an urgency to their quest as they are being pursued from copious amounts of evil and Thorin’s lust for gold becomes greater. If they stop they die or miss their opportunity to battle a pompous dragon. Things will not get easier for our heroes and the third Hobbit film will emphasize this fact.

The highlight of Smaug is Smaug himself. The scene between Bilbo and the pompous dragon is a highlight of dialogue, CGI and wonderful acting. Smaug slithers, preens and boasts while Bilbo knowingly feeds the dragons ego in an attempt to stay alive. Once again, Jackson proves to be a technical maestro as his dragon is one of the finest CGI creations I’ve ever seen on film. I can’t wait to see what the annoyed dragon does to lake town in the next installment.

There are two very welcome additions to the middle earth proceedings. Luke Evan’s Bard the Bowman and Evangeline Lilly’s Tauriel. Bard adds a welcome human presence while Tauriel adds a butt kicking female to the mix. Lilly and Orlando Bloom wipe out Orc’s in pure Jacksonian ways. Heads are severed, limbs are lost and several unlucky orcs are smooshed by barrels. Lilly’s prowess is reminiscent of Linda Hamilton’s Sarah Connor and Sigourney Weaver’s Ripley in terms of badass believability. Her character may be a plot device (shoehorned love triangle) but she overcomes that and  adds a welcome dose of emotion and murder.

My favorite scene in the Lord of the Rings trilogy is Sean Bean’s battle with the Uruk-hai in The Fellowship of the Ring. His murderous rampage was impressive yet doomed. The human element adds suspense to the world because they do not have superhuman powers. They are outgunned and over matched yet have to fight. The most stirring moments of the trilogy featured humans (riders of Rohan, warriors of Helms Deep) surviving huge odds. The action is fun in The Hobbit but there isn’t much consequence or threat. Smaug adds more urgency and Bard the Bowman gives us a human element that was lacking in the prior film.

Regardless of what you think about one book being turned into three movies you should trust Jackson. He has more money than Smaug so these films don’t feel like a cash grab. He has a story to tell and patience is a virtue. If he had stuck to two films that series would be over and we’d all be waiting for the Blu-ray. Now, we can eagerly await the battle of the five armies and Smaug’s rendezvous with Bard. I’m stoked for the third film and glad the sense of urgency is back.

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. December 29, 2013 1:37 pm

    Nice review. It’s a little bit better than the first, but it’s also still too long for its own good. Something needs to be fixed in order for this last installment to really hit us, and hit us hard.

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