The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug Review

At this point we know what to expect from Peter Jackson. He always can deliver the fantasy experience like no other and his next film is no different. The Hobbit: the Desolation of Smaug is the second entry in The Hobbit Trilogy, based on the novel by J.J.R. Tolkien and serves as the prequel to the Lord of the Rings trilogy. This entry continues the adventures in middle earth and it’s got the same action, thrills, and charm that have made this series a household name.

The film continues where the first one left off. The hobbit, Bilbo Baggins (Martin Freeman), the wizard Gandalf the Grey (Ian McKellen), and the company of thirteen dwarves, led by Thorin Oakenshield (Richard Armitage), continue their quest to reclaim the lonely mountains. They meet new characters and face many challenges along the way, leading to an inevitable confrontation with the dragon Smaug.

The acting performances are good -as expected- but better the second time around. Both Martin Freeman and Richard Armitage get more significant character development this time around, capitalizing on things barely getting started in the first film. Thankfully we get to see and learn a little bit more about other characters as well, most notably the remaining thirteen dwarves and newcomer Bard the Bowman (Luke Evans).

While this film is mostly faithful to the original story there are several departures as well. Some characters were added, such as the Legolas (Orlando Bloom) from Lord of the Rings and Tauriel (Evangeline Lilly), a character exclusive to the movie. The former was most likely added to help bridge this series into The Lord of the Rings.

There is also the confrontation with Smaug, which takes a very bold and different direction from the novel. It was certainly unexpected and I really liked it. It was somewhat of a risk but I respect Peter Jackson’s decision on this one.
For those who complained that the first film was too slow will be glad to know that the pacing issues have been tweaked for this installment. While I personally don’t mind a slow movie I can see why the first film may have been a tough sell for some.

This film jumps right into the action and just keeps a steady rhythm throughout. One thing that I hear a lot, especially from hardcore Tolkien fans, is how the film fails to live up to the book. I’ve accepted that most books will never be perfectly translated into a movie for one reason or another. It’s understandable that some are very protective of the source material. But the day that Hollywood can perfectly cater to fan service will never come so people really need to let this go.

The only flaw that I feel that’s even worth mentioning is the ending, which I’m not completely satisfied with. I feel that it ended too fast and that it just leaves you on an even bigger cliffhanger than the first one. Of course this is the middle chapter of the series so it may not be expected to have the most speculator ending.

Either way Peter Jackson delivered yet again. For Tolkien fans there is no question about seeing this film but to everyone else it’s worth a watch if you like fantasy or adventure. I’m satisfied for now but I can’t wait for the finale of this series. The third film and the conclusion of the series, titled The Hobbit: There and Back Again, is due for release winter 2014.