The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug

For some reason, audiences get their feathers ruffled when it comes to movies and time. They get too upset if one is too long and stretched out, wasting their obviously precious time—hence why the first Hobbit movie was met with such grumbling remarks. Well, if they didn’t like its table-setting style then they’ll be happy to know the sequel, The Desolation of Smaug, bashes that table with an axe, lights it on fire while screaming something like Kub-la-ka in a blaze of glory.

The movie wastes no time getting into what end up being a much more thrilling adventure as Bilbo (Martin Freeman), Gandalf (Ian McKellen) and a less than merry band of dwarves outrun a herd Orc.
Unlike the first one (which I quite enjoyed the movie never losses this sense of pacing. From beginning to end through creepy forest battle with giant spider with so much webbing I began to feel sticky to a well-stage river battle this Hobbit movie finally makes the trilogy feel like its own with plenty of imagery to recall fondly upon.

And then there’s the dragon—Smaug (voiced by Benedict Cumberbatch). Oh, Smaug, so deliciously evil with each passing phrase is like he’s taking one long lick from a devilish sundae with malicious chocolate sauce with a malevolent cherry on top as it all just drips off the tongue, loving every satanic bite. As he pronounces at the end, he is death, but also the most thrilling dragon ever put to film and possibly the best villain the entire franchise has ever had.

Though he is a true marvel of visual effects, there were some instances leading up to him that just didn’t look right. For instance, in the first 20 minutes or so there were some odd pixilation issues on some close-ups that stood out as some teens attempt to make a big budgeted movie against a pros work. Then there were some shots during a rather exciting river battle that were literally from when Peter Jackson and Co. threw a handy-cam into the river to get first-person shots of the barrels down a rough river. There were so distinctly out of place I was expecting a little date that read “12-13-1993” to pop up at the bottom, all before it cut to be and brother opening presents on Christmas.

But other than some persisting technical quandaries, as well as not a total departure from the more silly moments that didn’t exactly do the first one justice, there’s not really anything to hate in this movie. There are some added characters, like the reappearance of fan favorite Legolas (Orlando Bloom) and new addition Tauriel (Evangeline Lilly) who together give that extra bit of adrenaline without overshadowing the other characters. Though some may criticize for the abundance of characters, it’s the same style utilized by the first trilogy making for a much more diverse and engaging story.

And talk about a cliff hanger—someone should write a note to the makers of The Hunger Games and tell them how it’s done. Emphasizing the situations of all the major players before the end illustrates a sense of global doom that is needed to understand the gravity of what’s about to befall Middle-Earth, making it all the more intense as the lights come up. And, to be honest, there’s no greater sense of impending doom than an evil Benedict Cumberbatch with wings.

Grade: B+

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