The Dwarves, Bilbo and Gandalf have successfully escaped the Misty Mountains, and Bilbo has gained the One Ring. They all continue their journey to get their gold back from the Dragon, Smaug.
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Somewhere along this Unexpected journey to Erebor, The Hobbit found his courage that transformed him from being the Baggins of Bag-End to a burglar who repeatedly saved the lives of the dwarf company through many an adventure. Tolkien's beloved tale takes an evil turn as Peter Jackson stretches the storyline for 3 films, meandering about with new characters and old. Be it studio pressure to cater to larger audiences rather than just its fan base or Jackson's self-consuming digression in support of more action and violence, 'The Desolation of Smaug' loses the charm of a coherent story with enjoyable characters and turns into a tale of evil in Middle-Earth with a Hobbit.
Right out of a frying pan and into the fire, the company of Thorin Oakenshield is rescued by the eagles (summoned by Gandalf) who carry them all to the eastern edge of the misty mountains. There lies before them a treacherous path through the Mirkwood forest that will bring them to Long Lake and Esgaroth before they head north towards the lonely mountain and Erebor wherein rests the cunning dragon Smaug.
But before that, they find refuge and rejuvination in the house of Beorn the skin-changer. Jackson has altered the entry of the company into Beorn's home by taking the fun out of it and giving this interesting character minimal screen time.
Their journey through Mirkwood thereafter resumes without Gandalf, who leaves them in lieu of urgent business. After struggling through the bewildering forest and battling spiders, the company gets captured by the wood-elves who incarcerate them in the halls of King Thranduil. Legolas (Orlando Bloom) re-emerges for Jackson as the King's son who, along with the beautiful lady Tauriel (Evangeline Lilly) fights spiders and orcs with adept shots of arrows and swords. Using his ring, Bilbo plots an escape with the dwarves during a feast. They roll down the river in barrels, chased by orcs and elves alike. This sequence is thoroughly enjoyable and even with all special effects, makes it the film's action highlight.
The company reaches the shores of Long Lake where Bard (Luke Evans) the bowman of the book, turns into a mere bargeman in Jackson's version who sneaks the company into lake town. After spending an infinite time there, the company journeys into the the desolation of the dragon where the hidden door is opened at the right celestial time and the hobbit is asked to perform his burglar duties in the dragon's lair.
Meanwhile, Gandalf ventures into the abandoned fortress of Dol Goldur where the Necromancer reveals himself as the enemy of past and future.
The wizard must use all his powers to combat the evil spirit that has resurfaced, Bilbo and the company must outsmart the dragon that threatens to unleash hell and the remaining dwarves must ward off an orc attack in lake town. The epic climax leaves you on a cliffhanger that will guarantee a big opening for next year's 'There and back again'.
Peter Jackson digs into the appendices of Tolkien's works and often times enriches the story-telling for a complete cinematic experience. The flashback scene with Gandalf and Thorin in Bree provides solidity to the quest, the introduction of Legolas and Tauriel adds some charm and kick-ass action while Gandalf's business in Dol Goldur draws intrigue and excitement for the next installment.
From Azog the defiler to Blog the ugly and to the nasty spiders, the creatures are meaner looking and formidable but none to rival Smaug the stupendous. The commendable CGI artists at WETA who created Smaug have detailed his aging skin, fiery eyes, flaming chest and maintained his size and length to that of a 'worm' rather than a Godzilla sized monster just as the book described him. Benedict Cumberbatch lends his regenerated voice that adds to Smaug's distrustful yet conniving nature.
In terms of action, the battle with spiders, elves against the orcs, the escape in barrels, Gandalf's confrontation in Dol Goldur and the devastation by Smaug in the halls of Erebor are all spectacular to behold.
Martin Freeman's Bilbo is even more convincing with a bit of courage now and Armitage is excellent as the transforming leader. Evangeline Lilly forms a beautiful elf who can seriously cut through some orc flesh while Orlando Bloom is a much more violent and fun to watch Legolas. Ken Stott's Balin brings wisdom and much needed emotional balance to the company and Luke Evans rises above his controversial character of Bard. Sir Ian McKellan's commanding voice and diction yet again prove to be a compelling force among the performances.
The film charges along faster than the previous one on account of having gone through the introductions already. The journey of the dwarves moves along rapidly and yet, it clocks in at 2hr41min. It seems that the well intended Peter Jackson went too far with his digressive story-telling to the extent that he began to sub-plot his sub-plots. The appendices were useful to propel the story into a thrilling 3rd installment as long as Jackson stuck to the plan of Gandalf's business in Dol Goldur, introduction of the fan-favorite Legolas and imposing the threat of orcs who will eventually come in bigger numbers. However, his liberty brings a curse upon the Tolkien folk who shake their heads in dismay as these events unfold before their 3D spectacled eyes:
> Intoducing Tauriel as an Elf warrior is quite welcome as she is the only female character but to put her through a mundane love triangle was completely unnecessary.
> Dwarves depart from Lake town after celebrations but they leave some of their company behind due to injury? Only to lead an orc attack with Legolas and Tauriel to defend them? Jackson is in a parralel universe at this point.
> Bard, the respectable bowman is now a bargeman who smuggles dwarves into town for coin? He will need a convincing character change when he has to raise the giant bow onto a fiery Smaug and lead his men to Dale.
> Smaug's terrific creation justifies a bit more screen presence but certainly not at a complete twist in story that engages him with the dwarves! The subsequent chase sequences involving fires and forging of gold that pass through as rivers turns into a blasphemous preview of next year's Godzilla.
Oh! Peter Jackson what have the fans done to deserve your betrayal in such manner? There is enough material in Tolkien's Hobbit itself to warrant 3 movies if you must but the compulsion to make them in such lengths at the cost of digressions and self-consuming reinventions will disappoint a legion of fans.... but they will still flock to the theaters next december for the midnight screening.
For the regular audience, Jackson's Smaug is intense fun with a sense of urgency in the journey of the dwarves as they get ever closer to their quest's completion. Keeping with 'An Unexpected Journey's high frame rate for spectacular visuals, Jackson makes Mirkwood, realm of the wood-elves, Dol Goldur, lake town and even the Desolation look epic. Howard Shore's menacing score suits the film's more evil theme.
As a grander vision, the impact of the imminent danger pertains not only to the dwarves but to the world and therefore the added focus on the wood-elves, men of lake town and orcs. The essence of the story is of course that Smaug wasn't the cause but merely a symptom of greed that led many to battle and doom. Through his adaptation of Tolkien's appendices, Jackson adroitly renders this aspect and is sure to showcase that in full glory in the final installment of the Hobbit's tale. Just hope that his deliberate inventions find their purpose as the quest comes to its fateful end.
- 8.68 on a scale of 1-10.
How did this film not make over a billion dollars? Its a improvement on the first one and perhaps the best Middle-Earth film out [my opinion] Go watch this film go buy it on blu-ray when it comes out and then buy the extended edition on blu-ray i would pay 100$ to see this movie
Similar to the first Hobbit except with less story and more action. Unfortunately the action sequences are relatively boring and didn't do much for the film. Why there are so many dwarves in this film I do not know. Most of them are just useless and don't do much of anything. I can't tell if there is supposed to be some sort of love triangle going on between Orlando Bloom, Evangeline Tilly, and the dwarf or half-dwarf guy whatever he is. The idea of a love story between an elf and a dwarf didn't improve the film. Another relative failure by Peter Jackson considering that the other films were quite a lot better in comparison. Watch the original trilogy Lord of the Rings again because they will be more enjoyable.
Best movie of the year!!!! My boyfriend and I see alot of movies and I'm rarely impressed but the make up and action was great ! I couldn't keep my eyes off the screen constant entertainment with the jokes and story. So hands down this movie is the best i have seen in along time.
A year since An Unexpected Journey happened for Bilbo...now what? Well, the journey goes on, of course even if Peter Jackson may be stretching the material a little too far...or so a lot of us think.
The first chapter in his Hobbit “saga” (a small children’s book compared to Rings, we know) started everyone, Bilbo, Gandalf, the Dwarves et al on their adventure. This was An Unexpected Journey, a worthy prequel that thankfully didn’t desecrate on any of the Lord of the Rings movies, despite the many ideas that Jackson had on how to present this story.
There were problems with it though: the introduction of the Dwarves dragged on and on and the new “revolutionary” 48-frames-per-second filming technique Jackson used for it barely showed any difference on how the many other 24-frame live-action films in the last 100 years or so have been made.
Happily though, Jackson seems to have fixed these problems (okay, he’s still continuing the whole 48-frames thing, but that doesn’t matter a jot) as The Desolation of Smaug moves swiftly along and doesn’t pause for breath or needlessly detail every last aspect of each new character one by one. It’s also worth mentioning that no reminders are given to the audience which is rather refreshing in a way, given that some of us had to suffer through each one before each Rings chapter kicked off, even if we had seen each film many a time at the pictures or on DVD before their official cinema release.
The Desolation of Smaug isn’t perfect, the plot does strain at times, but it’s certainly Peter Jackson’s most wildly entertaining, staggering and strangely enough, absolutely terrifying film so far.
The frightening moments come in the form of Beorn (Mikael Persbrandt), a Skin-Changer who may be a little too much to “bear” for the small ones, but he’s nothing compared to the – somewhat recycled - creepy Spiders from the Rings films that will still leave arachnophobes, new and old, squirming in their seats. There’s another one...believe me, there IS another one...but we’ll get to it later.
As far as action goes, this Hobbit chapter delivers in astounding quantities with plenty of arrows flying and fist and sword fight sequences, something the first one lacked. Jackson also makes up for it with a stunningly executed barrel chase down a river that’s up there with Indiana Jones either trying to dodge a boulder or being pursued on mine-cart. Even if some of it is a little on the unbelievable side, so what? In 3-D, the final scenes in a treasure-laden cave have gold coins and jewels flying towards you and you’ll want to grab some of them yourself. But whatever dimension you see this film in, whether it’s the battles or the gorgeous-looking Middle Earth sets; it will still grab your attention.
Martin Freeman reprises Bilbo and continues to feel at ease with his role, the same for the Dwarves, Ian McKellan as Gandolf...need I say more? Rings fans will be pleased to know Legolas is back, played once again by Orlando Bloom, and he, like all the other Rings characters and actors portraying them, hasn’t changed a bit. New cast members include a terrific Stephen Fry as the Master of Lake-Town and Evangeline Lilly playing female Elf Tauriel. Her character, however, is a bit of a disappointment. When she’s in action, she shines but when she’s speaking, she seems bland and lacks the spirit and fieriness of movie heroines like The Cat from The Dark Knight Rises and Avatar’s Neytiri.
But the star turn is Benedict Cumberbatch providing motion-capture and a voice like Scar from The Lion King on an amplifier for the most startling movie monster since Jurassic Park’s T-Rex...Smaug the Dragon. Forget Gollum, this dude’s the real deal. He practically scared the living (insert your own expletive here) out of me. The third dimension also makes him all the more petrifying. He will leave cinema-goers having nightmares for weeks and would even make Spielberg soil himself. God only knows what lies in store for us once the last instalment arrives. Until then, this beastie boy needs to be in the Rogues Gallery along with Kong and Godzilla and Cumberbatch needs some kind of recognition for his work here, perhaps an award.
All in all, The Desolation of Smaug improves on An Unexpected Journey in every way possible. Yes, the Tolkien purists may be ticked off by the many diversions from the original Hobbit book but in this case, they’re moaning about nothing. What’s more, once the film starts and they’re stunned by this true spectacle, only then will they shut up.