Martin Freeman, Ian McKellen, Richard Armitage, Luke Evans, Benedict Cumberbatch
Directed by Peter Jackson
In the continuation of the dwarves quest to reclaim Erebor, their homeland, “The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug” focuses more on plot development in this second part. The first “Hobbit” set up the quest and gave us a character to cheer for. Bilbo Baggins was persuaded to go on a quest along with the dwarves as their burglar. Now well along their way, they face many adventures with the great help of Bilbo.
“The Desolation of Smaug” is broken up in a few parts to make it whole. First there are the characters that have been flushed out, included a brand new one that was not seen in Tolkien’s fictional universe. The one thing to know before going to see this movie is to forget about the book. Tauriel (Evangeline Lilly) is a welcome addition to the woodland elves. She is a fighter and can bring down many orcs with her bow and arrow. Legolas (Orlando Bloom), who was brought back to the prequel of “The Lord of the Rings”, makes a good fighting duo with her. The Bard (Evans) has more screen time than in the book, with children to look after and a role in helping the dwarves and Bilbo get into Laketown.
In this second continuation, Gandalf (McKellen) faces a more serious threat when he leaves the dwarves company. The stress of Sauron’s return grows stronger and even Bilbo is facing a bit of a personality change when it comes to the ring he stole from Gollum. The other big threat is Smaug (Cumberbatch), the dragon who inhabited the Lonely Mountain. The dwarves wish to reclaim their home but with a sleeping dragon in their halls, the Bard worries they will set a terror on his town across the mountain.
The trouble with breaking a book into three movies is keeping audiences interested enough to wait each year for the next part. Going into the movie, it felt like watching just a brief part. It didn’t feel complete, unlike the middle of the “Lord of the Rings” trilogy which pulled off it’s second movie successfully. “Desolation of Smaug” ends on a cliffhanger (no surprise) and not all is a happy ending, but it’s hard to leave satisfied. The movie was done well with the characters flushed out and a bigger plot in the works. The cinematography made viewers feel like they were in the movie, with shots of underwater scene during the dwarves barrel escape. The movie could have been stronger but perhaps as the “middle” of this three-parter it was bound to feel incomplete. As someone who read the book the ending of this movie wasn’t a surprise, which may be why I feel dissatisfied with the ending. By next year the last part “There and Back Again” should bring closure on the films and with a proper ending should be a bigger success.