The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug

Directed by Peter Jackson
Starring Martin Freeman, Sir Ian McKellen, Richard Armitage, Orlando Bloom, Evangeline Lilly, Benedict Cumberbatch and many many more
In cinemas December 13th, 2013

by Joanna Orland

If you are reading this review, I shall assume you’ve already immersed yourself in the world of Peter Jackson’s J.R.R. Tolkien adaptations and have seen at least the first of The Hobbit trilogy – An Unexpected Journey.  The second in the trilogy, The Desolation of Smaug is superior to its predecessor in every way, except for its lack of Gollum.  But where there is a void, there is a dragon to fill it, and its name is Smaug.

The film begins with Gandalf and Thorin meeting in a pub before any of this journey has started.  This scene is a nice recap of how hobbit Bilbo Baggins came to be on this journey with the dwarves, and swiftly the story moves on to present day with Bilbo, the dwarves, and Gandalf fleeing from orcs and continuing on their mission to the Lonely Mountain to reclaim the kingdom of Erebor for Thorin and his dwarf clan.

After yet another close call with the orcs and escaping what I can only call a werebear who looks an awful lot like Teenwolf’s father, the dwarves and Bilbo find themselves in the depths of the cursed Mirkwood Forest, fighting for their lives against madness and spiders.  The spider scenes are gruesome and terrifying.  This film is most definitely not for children or the faint of heart.  A few spider murders later, and after a glimpse of Bilbo’s corruption by ‘the ring’, the wood elves enter onto the scene.

Orlando Bloom returns as the spritely Legolas, but is overshadowed by the stunningly beautiful Evangeline Lilly (Kate from Lost) as she-elf Tauriel.  This is where the film strays greatly from the book, but Peter Jackson can be forgiven as the elves add a lot to the plot and range of characters.  And Evangeline Lilly is just stunning to the point of making the audience forget who Liv Tyler is.

Legolas, Tauriel, and company take the dwarves to their Elvin headquarters where Thorin has a confrontation with Elvin king Thranduil who tries to make a deal with Thorin – the dwarves’ freedom in exchange for some eyedrops to help soothe his Elvin contact lenses.


The dwarves and Bilbo escape the Elvin lair with only one interracial romance to account for.  Many action scenes later, they encounter a beautiful smuggler named Bard, played by the very handsome Luke Evans.  They are smuggled into Lake-town where they are nearly at their journey’s end.  One Stephen Fry cameo and many decapitations later, the dwarves and Bilbo find themselves in the mountain with a large sleeping dragon left as their only obstacle.  Thorin insists that Bilbo go into the depths of the mountain to steal the Arkenstone from within the pile of treasure which is guarded by Smaug the dragon himself.  Smaug awakes.

Benedict Cumberbatch’s portrayal of Smaug is amongst the best on screen villainous performances.  Using motion capture, and most prominently his voice, Smaug is brought to larger than life in a terrifying fashion.  As horrible as he is, I could listen to him talk all day.

Meanwhile across town, Gandalf the Grey is having a little adventure of his own – confronting the Necromancer who is also voiced by Benedict Cumberbatch.  The Necromancer is actually Sauron in his less powerful form.  Cumberbatch is really a non entity in this portrayal of the Necromancer, but some of the cheesiest effects in the film can be found in his place.  You’ll know it when you see it – but it is reminiscent of this:


Back to Smaug – the beastly and stupendous dragon scenes are worth the two hour wait until their arrival. By the time Smaug soars out of the mountain towards Lake-town bellowing the haunting words, “I am Fire! I am Death!” the audience is left awestruck and breathless.

I could have easily watched another two and a half hours of this film.  This is a blockbuster in its truest form.

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