|I really miss artistic and interesting movie posters|
((Based on the name of this blog, it should be obvious that I'm pretty found of The Hobbit. Due to that fondness and the connections between this property and the hobby, I thought I'd post my review of the movie here instead of my other blog, A Place For My Thoughts.))
The second in a trilogy of movies base off the novel by J.R.R. Tolkien, The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug continues the adventure of Bilbo Baggins, the mighty wizard Gandalf, and his thirteen dwarven companions who hope to reclaim the ancient kingdom of Erebor from the deadly dragon Smaug.
While I enjoyed The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, I felt it suffered due to sluggish pacing and I had issues with the film's tone at times. So, when walking into the theater this afternoon, I hoped The Desolation of Smaug would do what any good sequel should: keep what worked about the first movie, but improve on what didn't.
I feel like The Desolation of Smaug acheived that...for the most part, anyway.
As with An Unexpected Journey and the Lord of the Rings trilogy, The Desolation of Smaug is visually stunning. Like the previous films, you really feel like Middle-Earth is a real place that you wish you could explore for yourself. Each settlement looks stunning and most of the costumes and special effects are interesting to look at.
Likewise, the action scenes are incredibly entertaining. Action scenes can be some of the most boring and uninspired scenes in a film when handled poorly. Thankfully, The Desolation of Smaug does a good job with keeping the fights interesting and imaginative. How can you not love an action scene where a group of dwarves have to fight off a group of orcs while riding down a river in a couple of wood elf barrels?
The acting is great as well. Ian McKellen, as usual, does a fantastic job as Gandalf the Grey and Martin Freeman performance as Bilbo Baggins is great. Both actors capture the essence of the characters while giving excellent performances. Benedict Cumberbatch was simply amazing as the voice of Smaug. You can simple tell how much fun he was having playing the role. While I still have trouble remember which dwarf is which, the actors give solid performances. The only actor I had any real problems with is Orlando Blum. I don't think he's a terrible actor, I just never find his performances all that interesting, and his performance as Legolas in this movie doesn't change that.
However, like its predecessor, The Desolation of Smaug is by no means a perfect film. While its not as sluggish as An Unexpected Journey, the film's pacing is still a little too slow at times for its own good. Most likely, the pacing issues are due to the film trying to extend a single book into three movies, which cause some scenes to feel a little padded at times.
I also have mixed feelings about some of the things they added to the story. For example, a female elf named Tauriel (Evangeline Lilly) and the aforementioned Legolas were added to the movie. While I actually kind of like Tauriel and her relationship with Kili, I wonder if their inclusion in the film was all that necessary.
With that being said, I still enjoyed The Desolation of Smaug. While it could be better pacing wise and I wonder if certain elements should have been excluded from the final product without harming the film too much, the film is still a fun fantasy movie and I have no problem giving it a recommendation.
Final Verdict: See it if you enjoy the fantasy genre, liked the previous films in the series, and have a soft spot for action/adventure movies.