Opening 12 Dec 2013
Writing credits: Fran Walsh, Philippa Boyens, Peter Jackson, Guillermo del Toro, J.R.R. Tolkien
Principal actors: Ian McKellen, Martin Freeman, Richard Armitage, Ken Stott, Graham McTavish
This is the second installment of the journey of the dwarves (along with Bilbo Baggins [Martin Freeman] and Gandalf the Grey [Ian McKellen]) to reclaim their long lost homeland, the kingdom of Erebor, from the dragon Smaug. Along the way, they encounter many obstacles in the form of Orcs, Humans, Shape shifters and Elves. Meanwhile, Gandalf must deal with dark forces that rising across the land.
Honestly, that is about all there is to this film. The first couple of hours are something like a repeat of the first film. The dwarves and Bilbo come across many unhelpful people and creatures and miraculously manage to keep making progress towards their goals despite it all. The last hour the audience finally gets to see the dreaded dragon Smaug. Though, to be quite honest, the majority of that encounter seems like something out of a classic episode of Scooby Doo. The dwarves run around through various entrances while the dragon thumps around failing to catch them. Smaug may be huge and breathe fire, but he certainly isn’t the smartest of creatures. He certainly does not invoke the strong feeling of dread that the characters seem to feel for him and that is a bit of a disappointment.
Of course the blandness of the film will not deter the fans of The Lord of the Rings trilogy and The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey (2012). The pacing, cinematography, computer graphics and acting are all on par with the previous installments, so people who enjoy these aspects will not be disappointed. However, it does seem that stretching one book into three movies, regardless of adding material from other parts of Tolkien’s mythology, makes the film feel a bit thin. There seems to be little point in rehashing the plodding action scenes and struggles of the protagonists (which are not much different from the first film) when, with good editing, the story could have easily been told in only two movies. In the end, the audience is left with the knowledge that they now must wait a whole year until the story is concluded and that this was entirely the result of the studio executives wanting to make more cash.
While The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug is entertaining enough and definitely a spectacular event on par with the previous films, the majority of the film is just mindless action working towards the last few minutes when the audience finally gets to see the dragon. Undoubtedly it will be wildly successful in the box office and everyone will see it, but that does not a good film make. If you are looking for a film with heart and originality, then another film might be a better choice. (Rose Finlay)