If you thought Peter Jackson’s idea of stretching out a children’s book into a trilogy was a bad idea, think again! Had it not been made so, we would have missed out on some of the best entertainment for 3 years. Without much ado, The Hobbit The Desolation of Smaug, sequel to last year’s The Hobbit An Unexpected Journey, is one of the best movies I have seen/experienced this year and undoubtedly stands to be the best in the series so far.
The Desolation Of Smaug starts off exactly where Unexpected Journey left off, well not exactly per se. Following a short Peter Jackson cameo you are thrown into a flashback where Gandalf convinces Thorin to reclaim his kingdom and from there on you are put into 3 hour roller coaster ride filled with much more exhilarating action and adventure than the original, but testing your bladders a bit. But that was expected from a Peter Jackson movie, wasn’t it? And I am sure, we’d get much more to see in an extended cut soon enough. Nonetheless sitting through Desolation felt like a breeze with little boredom to pull you out of it.
The Desolation of Smaug doesn’t shy away from packing quite a lot of action and adventure. Sprinkled with characters old and new, this is fantasy at its best fueled by J R R Tolkien’s masterful literature along with some additions from Hollywood’s skilled screenwriters. Yes, The Desolation of Smaug, for obvious reasons adds to the story and features characters and sequences which was never in the book. Peter Jackson has taken the liberty to do so and it does wonders, more than its prequel. While the original, despite being a visual grandeur, came just a bit short on drama and characterization, Desolation transcends them to some degree.
Martin Freeman reprises his role as Bilbo Baggins and he seemed, still, the best option for the role, his obsession with the ring growing stronger than ever as he builds his courage more and more for the quest. As does, Ian McKellan playing the ever powerful, heartwarming Gandalf, his presence in the movie was felt and everytime I saw him walk across a narrow ledge, I yearned him to yell “You, shall not pass!” one more time. Unlike the reckless ruckus from the first, this time around the Dwarfs are given much more of a personality and most of them stood out especially Killi who shared a bit of romance with Evangeline Lily’s Tauriel, the wood elf. And talk about elves, Orlando Bloom and Evangeline Lily makes for a splendid duo, kicking orc butts like never before. Richard Armitage’s Thorin too was given a much needed boost showing his inner struggles to forgo anything to reclaim his kingdom.
Let’s allot a paragraph for the ultimate attraction Desolation offers, shall we? Yep, Smaug! If you’ve thought that they showed too much of Smaug in the previews believe me when I say you haven’t seen nothing. Smaug, brilliantly voiced by Benedict Cumberbatch, is one of the wonders this movie’s got to outbid. I agree I have slain my fair share of dragons in Skyrim, but to my surprise, Smaug wasn’t anything like it. It’s the spectacle that we’d been waiting for since we saw its gargantuan eye teased in the first and it delivers a sequence that’ll forever be etched in all of LOTR/ Tolkien fans. I was totally in love with the Bilbo-Gollum encounter from the first, but this surpasses it on all levels.
Treading on lands far from Shire, our heroes are put into visually rich locales, be it Mirkwood or Laketown, everything had an uncanny authenticity. The CG and art that’s been put into the movie is on par with The Lord Of The Rings Trilogy albeit a bit better. There were indeed some CG here and there that felt clumsy and coming from WETA, its kind of unforgivable. The IMAX experience was worth every penny and I suppose that’s exactly why the level of immersion was delivered. Howard Shore’s score does perfectly sync with the visuals but I’ll need to listen to it more to comment on it more.
The Hobbit The Desolation of Smaug is, first and foremost, an action adventure movie and Peter Jackson has done a great job in setting things up for the grand finale next year. Unlike the first, which took its own sweet time to set the heroes on quest, Desolation puts you straight in to the thick of all action and it was the indeed best way to end this year. The Hobbit series might not be known as much as the epic LOTR, but its charm is bound to make you love and cherish it.