The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug Review

Release Date: December 13 2013 (North America)
Runtime: 2 hours 41 minutes
Director: Peter Jackson
Stars: Martin Freeman, Ian McKellen, Richard Armitage, Benedict Cumberbatch

Watched: December 19 2013 (Ultra AVX 3D)

Rating: 8.5/10

The journey continues for Bilbo, Gandalf and the Dwarfs onward to the lonely mountain. The second instalment of Peter Jackson’s vision of The Hobbit brings with it action and comical touches that bring just enough light to have the audience engaged rather than just mindlessly watching Orcs get their heads decapitated. The pacing in the second film of the trilogy has found it’s stride, there were scenery shots to establish location but unlike the first film it did not over lavish the landscapes to the point of them being self-indulgent. Each scene was clear and had purpose to set the plot forward, rather than holding or stalling the progression of the film.

The cinematography was brilliant. Every angle and every scene was perfection, not once did I question or not understand the reason behind the shot during the movie. From the Lord of the Rings trilogy we are familiar with the forced perspective technique that creates the illusion that some objects are farther, closer, smaller or larger. The use of this technique is heavily used to convey the short stature of the dwarves and hobbits and to emphasize the height of elves and man. In perhaps only one particular scene in the film did I actually become consciously aware of this technique being used and perhaps it was by accident I was looking at it a particular way that drew my attention to it or perhaps not…

The acting I thought in this film was better than the last. Freeman has definitely come into his own and plays a brilliant bumbling but willing to try hobbit on an adventure. He has this comedic air about his portrayal of Bilbo that doesn’t overshadow the seriousness or tension of the scenes but perhaps can be relatable to those that have a natural awkwardness in uncomfortable or “sticky” situations. He brings just enough courage out of the character for us to believe he is a hero and enough insecurity for use to build a palpable connection with him.

Benedict Cumberbatch has gained monumental press or should I say his voice has gained monumental press for his voicing role of Smaug the Dragon. It could be said the during PR, Cumberbatch may have even overshadowed the Hobbit himself which after watching the movie, the attention was credible but in my opinion not warranting the obscene amount that he did receive. The voice acting itself was quite good riddled with effects to enhance and distort the timbre of the voice and everything really just fell into place. However, at the end of the movie I did feel a little underwhelmed by Smaug’s appearance perhaps since there was much hype around the voice acting, I had also believed that Smaug’s appearance would be equality “titillating” for the epic dragon under the mountain. Cumberbatch also lent his voice for the role of the Necromancer but with effects it was hard to tell just by hearing it that the voice belonged to Cumberbatch if you didn’t already know this fact.

CGI, makeup and effects were well done as per usual no big surprise there. Orcs were particularly ugly and the elves were just majestic and beautiful. The makeup was just outstanding, I cringed when some of the orcs faces were shown close up (ewww). Music was beautiful and used so well to enhance every scene. The featured song, “I See Fire” by Ed Sheeran is just amazing, it fits the film so well that I’m tempted to buy the soundtrack just for it.

With the added storylines and characters, the film did a great job jumping between and intertwining them throughout the film and never felt like it was a hinderance in anyway.  It was nice to see Legolas again (the original Katniss Everdeen)  although his character is much more serious than in LOTRs it was a nice way to weave in both series together through character crossovers.  One major thing in the movie I thought was really well done was the use of the “ring”. I really liked how the ring was used to enhance the plot and move it along but was not lingered on too much. I thought it was used at the right time and when not needed it was put away out of sight.

Overall, the second film of the Hobbit trilogy was a step forward and I hope that it maintains its momentum in the final film due out in December 2014. The pacing, action scenes, Bilbo’s character development and Smaug are highlights of the film for me making it a definite must own on Blu-Ray and DVD when it is released. At one point I during the movie I was debating with myself on if I should get the regular Blu-ray or the 3D version at the time of the release (smh).


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