The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug – 4.5/5 – Movie Reviews by Ry!

The Hobbit DOSThe Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug – 4.5/5 – If the first one was a good return to Middle Earth, the second in this planned trilogy was a great step in progressing further into this world.  In getting straight to the point, this film’s overall experience will have you yearning for more.

Premise: After successfully crossing over the Misty Mountains, Thorin and Company continue their trek to take back their homeland.  Before taking on the dangers of Mirkwood Forest and beyond, they must travel without the help of Gandalf.  As the company of dwarves travel further on this quest in the absence of a wizard, wills will be tested, emotions will be inflicted, and the truth of everything leads to only one thing, the return of a great threat to the world of Middle Earth.

Most the main cast returns from the previous films, as well of some new addition.  Focusing on the main cast, you have:

Ian McKellen as Gandalf

Martin Freeman as Bilbo Baggins

Richard Armitage as Thorin

As well as the band of dwarves.  When it comes to the main three, they still do a great job in creating characters with grounded mystique, suave and charm that you got in the first.  The one difference is each actor shows a strong maturation when it comes to the oncoming threat of both the necromancer and Smaug.  This time around, the main three have strong individually, which helps create a more personal relationship with the characters in the film as well as with the audience.  This helps you become engrossed further into the journey, feeling the burden this quest has brought upon them.  Each scene with these three are deeply invoking through the intimate conversations, emotional overtures or comical moments; you feel each scene as if you were there.  Outside of the main three, the rest of the dwarves doe have a bigger role in this film, especially the dwarves Balin and Kili. Instead of just using them as plot devices (like the first film), they are more prudent to the story, realizing their real purpose towards the quest.  With the deeper involvement, you feel a greater sense of real brotherhood between all the dwarves, including Thorin.  This also adds to their individualism and bravado of being memorable instead of throw away characters.  Along with these group of people, there are also a new batch of characters (some returning from the LOTR trilogy).  You have:

Orlando Bloom as Legolas

Evangeline Lilly as Tauriel

Lee Pace as Thranduil

Luke Evens as Bard the Bowman

Benedict Cumberbatch as Smaug

Mikael Persbrandt as Beorn

These new additions to The Desolation of Smaug are wonderful, distinct and enticing.  A lot of them have very minimal screen time, but others (Bard, Legolas and Smaug) have deeper and more integral roles to the story’s progress.  No matter what their purposes are, the quality each actor/actress provide are soothing, wondrous and gripping.  From the suave and inclusive Thranduil, the monstrous but cunning Smaug, all the way to the humble but fierce Bard the Bowman, you become emotionally attached to each of the characters mentioned (and not mentioned).  The real gift is that you get to see that their characters are not only just there to progress the story, but also to show another layer of struggles that are being affected in middle earth.  You see how each person is flawed individually, as they are conflicted by personal worth and dark desires.  When it comes to rest of the supporting cast, there isn’t much to say but that the support from these extras helps you believe this world exist.

The direction of this film is one that follows a traditional line of a second film in the trilogy.  In being the bridge between two films, it has the hard task at two things; progression of the story and further development of the characters.  A lot of the times, second films aren’t able to do that, but with Peter Jackson at the helm, there is no mistaken that this film is able to succeed and surpass these challenges.  In the beginning, we pick up the company’s journey as they begin the trek through the evilness of the Mirkwood forest to get to The Lonely Mountain.  Before they get started on their quest through the woods, Gandalf has to ‘leave’ on a personal quest.  This is where the film creates a dynamic of infusion multiple source material for cinematic pleasure.  As the film traverses both the novel and the appendices sources of Tolkien lore, the film becomes a non-stop fantastical ride through the world of Middle Earth.  On this linear path of getting from ‘point A to B’, you get to see the mystical and terrifying forest of Mirkwood, the enchanting and reclusive halls of Thranduill’s woodland realm, the auspicious human inhabitants of Lake-town, and the benevolence and awe inspiring lost world Of the dwarven homeland of Erebor.  As we follow the company through these specific areas, we also get a splintered look at Gandalf’s ‘personal’ quest to reveal the truth that is hidden in Dols Goldur.  For the interweaving of two different source materials, the pacing between each situation is fast but precise, and the overall tone is kept at a fragile but high octane level.  Even for the cinematic enclosure of what is on screen, you still have a great aspect of the film that engages on a personal scale for the main players in the film.  This layering of both paralleling stories creates something that is fantastical and extravagant, but a fantasy adventure that is one with deep characterization and raw narrative value.  This portrait of a film shows how great an a eye Peter Jackson has as a director.  His persistence of the imagination is innocent at heart, and his creativity to go beyond helps in providing an engaging story; one that molds a true cinematic experience.  As you experience all this, you become witness to the ongoing struggles of main characters (Thorin, Gandalf and Bilbo), watching as they have to endear the consequences of their actions as it pertains to the quest, as well as the new ‘political’ ramification between the dwarves, elves and men when it comes to the treasure within the mountain.  Once the film gets to its third act, the aforementioned ‘Smaug’ highlights every reason why this film is great.  His cunning visual and personal antics help provide a climatic experience that draws a stunning array of awesome action set pieces combined with a dynamic exposition that is riveting, endearing and poignant.  All this leads to a drastically crazed cliffhanger that will leave you speechless.   By the end, you will not realize it has been close to 3 hours, and will just be yearning for more to see of Middle Earth.

The visuals of the films are just the pure definition of magical.  From the vast creations of the Woodland Realm, the darkly majestic appeal of Mirkwood, the humbling and depressive state of Lake-Town and the auspicious halls of Erebor, you will get something that feels magical and realistic.  With the additional use of real world areas filmed around the vast nature of New Zealand, you get a great mixture of realism with the fantastical.  This helps you get lost in the world’s visuals, feeling the truth of its aesthetic appeal.  When it comes to the creation of the Orcs, warg, and especially the dragon Smaug, you have this intriguing but terrifying appeal that will make you fear this world.  This is a great contrast as well as adds depth to the greater aspects of this film, showing just how enormous this world is, even when it’s not real.  With the great cinematography you also have a great score.  The music in this film is luscious, serene, engrossing and immersive.  Unlike the first of the Hobbit films, the second doesn’t rehash a lot of old music from Lord of the Rings, and introduces a lot of new songs, sounds and deep opera-esque music to cause a more standout film.

Overall, The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug is a great sequel, as well as a good bridge for this trilogy.  The film delves deeper into the story, as well as further develop the characters at hand, while still introducing some pivotal ones.  With the addition of great visuals and music, this movie will bring the power of pure entertainment on the big screen.  If you’re a fan of cinema, action, adventure,Tolkien or Peter Jackson, this is one for you.  You will definitely experience a movie that will blow your mind.

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