“The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug” Review
Ever since the first installment of the Hobbit ended on a cliffhanger last December, moviegoers have been eagerly awaiting this film. Not to fear,it is well worth the wait.
The second part in this trilogy is an action packed thrill ride. Again we follow Bilbo and the 13 dwarves on their quest to reclaim the Lonely Mountain. It is a perilous journey, with a new threat at every turn. Many complaints about the first Hobbit movie were that there was not enough action, well this movie certainly makes up for that. The company, accompanied by Gandalf the Grey (a wizard), are being hunted by vicious (and ugly) orcs, and every time they manage to outrun them, they end up running into another obstacle. The stakes are plenty high for Bilbo and the dwarves, they must get to the mountain by Durin’s Day, and time is not on their side. However, Gandalf is facing an graver situation. The Necromancer, mentioned in the first film, is growing stronger and is not entirely who he seems. Gandalf abandons the company to investigate the threat and it turns out it is more powerful and scary than anyone could have predicted (well, anyone in Middle Earth, those who’ve seen or read the LOTR probably weren’t very surprised).
Peter Jackson made a bold decision in splitting one book into three films. In doing this he had to change/ add a lot of things into the film to spice it up. In this film, a prime example of this is Legolas and Tauriel. Though Legolas was a beloved character from the LOTR books and movies, he is not mentioned anywhere throughout the Hobbit book. Tauriel just flat out doesn’t exist. Though some would criticize such a bold decision, the seasoned warriors do make for some interesting action sequences (plus both are pretty easy on the eyes, so that’s a plus).
The movie isn’t all action, however. There’s also humor, romance, and challenging internal conflicts. For example, Gandalf has to decide between trying to stop the rising threat of the “necromancer” or to rejoin the dwarves, his friends, and help them with their quest. Then there’s Tauriel’s choice between following the orders of the selfish king, Thranduil, and doing what she believes to be right. The character’s face moral problems that will have the audience question their own moral standings on different situations.
The returning cast reprised their roles perfectly while the newcomers slid in seamlessly. Martin Freeman as Bilbo is astonishing in both his humorous scenes and the more serious ones (i.e. when he’s realizing the grasp the ring has on him and he tries to resist its temptation). Lee Pace does the elven king Thranduil great justice, perfectly capturing his superior air. Luke Evans plays Bard, the human from Laketown, an all around good guy trying to do what’s right even when no else agrees with him. Evans manages to display Bard’s big heart without having the character be particularly nice.
Overall Jackson managed to adapt a well-loved story into an extremely entertaining movie with likeable protagonists, intimidating enemies, an interesting story line, and complex underlying themes and conflicts. Though it’s a pretty lengthy movie (2 hours and 41 minutes), it leaves audiences wanting more (especially with that nasty cliffhanger). 4.5 (out of 5) stars and well worth the $7 ticket price, currently showing at all local theaters.