Friday Features: 'The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug'

Friday Features: 'The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug'

Credit: New Line Cinema

This week, the second installment in Peter Jackson’s “The Hobbit” film trilogy, “The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug,” releases in theaters nationwide.

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by HAYDEN PITTMAN

WFAA Special Contributor

Posted on December 13, 2013 at 1:06 AM

Updated Friday, Dec 13 at 6:26 PM

This week, the second installment in Peter Jackson’s “The Hobbit” film trilogy, “The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug,” releases in theaters nationwide. The film picks up as if no time has passed since the first presentation, and immediately hurls the audience back into the story. Featuring new characters, fantasy creatures, increased evil, and continuing the journey in Middle Earth, this movie has many similarities to the first film as well as likenesses to “The Lord of The Rings” trilogy. “The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug” is a stimulating, action-packed, special effect-filled, dramatic adventure that feels very familiar for fans of this genre or subject.

“Smaug” continues the adventure of the hobbit, Bilbo Baggins, and his companions, the wizard Gandalf and thirteen dwarves, as they journey across Middle Earth on an epic quest to the Lonely Mountain to reclaim their home, the lost Dwarf Kingdom of Erebor. Having barely survived the beginning part of their journey, the company heads east towards the mountain and along the way, runs into several dangerous situations, including a swarm of giant spiders, a gang of pursuing orcs, a terrifying, fire-breathing dragon guarding the mountain, and more. On top of these threats, the group receives little assistance from those they come across, and they race against time as they look for a hidden door into the mountain that can only be opened at a specific time, according to prophecy. Additionally, Bilbo continues to keep secret his possession of a mysterious and magical ring, which he found in the first film, and we see the impact of this object on him beginning to grow.

From the very beginning of the film, there is a clear shift in the increase of evil and a much darker tone than the first. As we dive deeper into the story of “The Hobbit,” one of the major villains behind the curtain of sorts is revealed, and this not only raises the stakes, danger, and potential consequences, but also makes a great connection to “The Lord of The Rings” films (“The Hobbit” series is a prequel) and puts things in motion for the future. Like most sequels or second films, “Smaug” introduces a fair amount of new characters, creatures, locations, and information. There are several stories going on throughout this film as it goes back and forth between individual peoples’ quests: Gandalf ventures off on his own to investigate a growing darkness, the dwarves continue on towards the mountain, Bilbo searches for a coveted, magical stone inside the mountain, the orcs and wood elves pursue the company and more. There are many moving pieces present here, but the film does a good job at bringing everything together and connecting various plot points.

As a whole, there are great shots or backgrounds of scenery, forests, rivers, mountains, looking to the horizon and more, but parts of the film still looks extremely fake or heavily like a movie set. Using a combination of live action, real actors, green screens, computer-generated imagery, animation, and other special effects, it appears as each scene is a mix of real people on sets or computer-generated creatures in a real-life environment, and vice versa. This doesn’t really take anything away from the film, but it is more than noticeable. Furthermore, the film has a bright, glossy, candy-like glow from time to time, which seems to increase the fantasy feel of the presentation.

“The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug” has a great deal of enjoyment for J.R.R. Tolkien fans, as well as those who take pleasure in fantasy worlds, make-believe creatures, countless races, exciting adventures and more. In this part of the story, our main characters are progressing on their quest and getting closer to their goal, while dealing with endless attacks, destruction, injuries, and trying to fulfill the prophecy that says the dwarves will one day return to the mountain and take back their home. The elves play a much larger role here and their agility, fighting, and bow skills compliment the combat that takes place. The movie has a light degree of humor, mostly in part to Bilbo Baggins, the clumsiness of the dwarves and other characters, and watching them run into each other or watching them get through various skirmishes, small battles, traps, and other situations, which they almost always find their way out of.

The new characters present in this film are well received, and the actors from the first film give very similar performances. Benedict Cumberbatch voices the evil, impressive, and scary-looking dragon, Smaug, who resides beneath the Lonely Mountain. This movie also stars Ian McKellen, Martin Freeman, Richard Armitage, Evangeline Lilly, Luke Evans, Orlando Bloom and more. The running time is a bit long, but it is the type of film that is hard to ever tell whether you’re at the beginning, middle, or end. This film has much to offer, but it doesn’t give off that incredible feeling that “The Hobbit,” “The Lord of The Rings,” or films alike present. In the end, “The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug” is a decent, thrilling, and entertaining next step in this film trilogy.

Rated 3.5-out-of-5

“The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug” is rated PG-13 for extended sequences of intense fantasy action violence, and frightening images. Running time is 2 hours and 40 minutes.


Hayden Pittman is a special contributor to WFAA.com and a freelance film critic and entertainment blogger out of Dallas. More of his content can be found on YouPlusDallas.com and his author archive here. He is a film, TV, and sports enthusiast, and hopes to pursue a future in filmmaking and screenwriting.

Don’t like what he has to say? Let him know at haydenp@youplusmedia.com.

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