I’m sorry. I just don’t get all the Peter Jackson hate. Sure, The Hobbit novel may only be 300 pages and it seems ridiculous to spread that over 3 movies. But the movies are directed by the worthy caretaker – Jackson. He is a quality filmmaker who obviously has a ton of reverence for the source material. It’s not as if this is just another Twilight book being divided up into 2 useless movies, while being directed by Michael Bay. I want to know how many people, who bought the LOTR Extended Editions, are complaining about the length of The Hobbit(s). If anything, Peter Jackson is giving us a very extended edition of the Hobbit and rewarding fantasy movie fans every December.
I think my feelings about these movies are clear.
The Desolation of Smaug picks up right where The Unexpected Journey left off. Bilbo, Gandalf and the Dwarf posse are still making their way back to the lonely mountain and home to the malicious dragon, Smaug. They are pursued relentlessly by orcs sent to stop them. Along the way, this fellowship runs into a shape-shifter, a corrupt band of elves and a destitute human village. In the middle of it all, the smallest traveler in the group, Bilbo, struggles with the ring’s power and finds himself stuggling with greed. Greed also affects the leader of the dwarves, Thorin, as he seems to risk everything and everyone to reclaim the Arkenstone gem and his rightful kingdom as well. Reclaiming the kingdom under the mountain will be a hard-fought battle as they must first face Smaug, an enormous fire-breathing dragon.
While many people struggled with the long setup in the first movie, they will now be satisfied with the pacing in Desolation. This movie moves at a far more brisk pace, due in no small part to the exciting action sequences. One scene in particular has the gang of dwarves riding barrels downriver in an escape attempt. The action is reminiscent of Tintin and incredibly fun to watch. The more preposterous it gets, the bigger the smile will grow.
Bilbo (Martin Freeman) shares the spotlight this time around with more developed characters, but he is starting to show his unhealthy obsession with the ring. He is the heart of this fellowship and this time around he gets plenty of chances in this movie to actually be the hero.
Fanboys of the book may be a little upset with the inclusion of Legolas and (previously nonexistent) Tauriel. They have been added to this movie to add a uncertain love triangle subplot. Strangely enough, this plotline is completely welcome. It only adds to the pace. Tauriel, played by Evangeline Lilly, is a great warrior who feels a loyalty to Legolas, yet she becomes quite taken with the dwarf, Kili (Aidan Turner). As I said, you may think this plot would be completely unnecessary, but it actually adds another dimension to one of the many faceless dwarves. Legolas, on the other hand, propels the movie in every battle scene.
The legendary dragon, Smaug, is the best movie dragon to date (Sorry Sean Connery). His enormous presence in the movie does justice to the creature’s influence to decades of fantasy novels. Jackson spared no expense in relation to Smaug’s effects. When he looms over Bilbo in Erebor, you believe its overwhelming size. It doesn’t hurt that Smaug is voiced by Benedict Cumberbatch either.
This movies gives audiences the type of adventure that any 10 year old would crave. Let’s be honest, it’s the adventure that’s right up my alley. While it is meant to be a fun movie, there are several orc decapitations in battle, so it may not be for everyone in the family.
The Desolation of Smaug improves on The Unexpected Journey in every way. It will bring back the emotions and joy you felt while watching The Lord of the Rings films. If you’ve never been a fan (I’m sorry for the loss of your inner child), this movie won’t be able to convince you otherwise.
See this movie in the theater. Don’t bother with 3D. Also, don’t worry about the 48fps. It’s hardly noticeable this time around. Just be ready for another non-ending. It will leave you wanting more. If that’s Peter Jackson’s purpose, he succeeds. I am ready for the final three hours.