MOVIE REVIEW: The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug

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The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug is the new fantasy adventure movie from co-writer, producer, and director Peter Jackson.  This is the second of three movies based on the 1937 novel, The Hobbit, written by J. R. R. Tolkien.  Aside from this Hobbit trilogy, Peter Jackson is best known for directing the Academy Award winning The Lord of the Rings trilogy.  The first movie, The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, was released last year and the conclusion of the trilogy, The Hobbit: There and Back Again, will be released in 2014.  This new trilogy serves as a prequel The Lord of the Rings trilogy.  Most of the cast members are back from the first movie with the likes of Martin Freeman, Ian McKellen, and Richard Armitage along with some new faces in Orlando Bloom, Evangeline Lilly, Luke Evans, and voice work provided by Benedict Cumberbatch.  The movie is being released in 3D and also conventional 2D.

Bilbo, Gandalf, and the company of 13 have now successfully moved past the Misty Mountains and continue their journey to the Lonely Mountain and the lost Dwarf Kingdom of Erebor.  On their way to the forest of Mirkwood, they encounter the skin-changer Beorn and make a new ally.  Gandalf then leaves the company in order to find out the true identity of the Necromancer.  As the company is making their way through Mirkwood, they are attacked by giant spiders and all but Bilbo are captured.  They manage to escape only to be taken hostage and imprisoned by the Wood-elves.  From here the elves come under attack from the Orc’s and the company manages to escape once again.  The next stop on the journey is Lake-town where they meet up with another new ally in Bard who is a descendant of the original Lord of Dale.  This then leads company to the Lonely Mountain and a certain confrontation with the dragon Smaug.  How will their journey continue?

In my opinion, The Desolation of Smaug is a much better movie than An Unexpected Journey for a number of reasons.  For starters, we finally get into the meat of story in this movie as opposed to what seemed like an extremely long unexpected journey in the first one.  Also, the action and battle scenes are far superior in this new movie.  It picks right up where the last one left off as Bilbo now has the ring in his possession and our company of 13 dwarfs are making their way to the Lonely Mountain.  I love that this movie can stand on its own as a complete film, even though it is the middle part of a trilogy based upon one book.  With that said, as the movie got closer and closer to its conclusion, I began to question whether or not there was actually going to be a third movie.  It was a little over two hours into the movie and so much had happened and was currently happening that I was questioning how in the world they were going to be able to fit in another entire movie.  I read the book when I was younger, but really don’t remember too much about it to know where the final movie will take us.  Let’s just say that there is a lot going on in this movie and you definitely get your money’s worth no matter what happens in the next one.  It is a very long movie, clocking in at just over two hours and forty minutes, although it didn’t feel that long sitting in the theater.  The special effects and CGI are top notch which is to be expected with Peter Jackson at the helm.  I saw the 3D version, which was good, but so much of the cinematography is dark that it really didn’t add too much to the overall enjoyment.  Also, I must warn you that this is not a movie for kids; there is a lot of killing and gruesome acts of violence.  I have to admit that I wasn’t overly impressed with An Unexpected Journey and had really lost quite a bit of interest in the entire trilogy before seeing The Desolation of Smaug.  That has all changed now and I can’t wait for the final conclusion when There and Back Again hits theaters next year.  This is a must see on the big screen and a fun time at the movies over the holiday season.

Grade: A-

The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug opens on Friday, December 13.