Picking up where The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey left off, The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug is a rip roaring adventure through J. R. R. Tolkien’s Middle Earth. Making the assumption that you have seen the first film, there are no introductions to the company of heroes here. We are launched into the adventure as the dwarves and their burglar, Bilbo, attempt to make it to the former mountain kingdom of the dwarves. It is a wonderful film and it is certainly more focused than the first film. It is also a more serious film than the first, being the middle chapter in this saga, so the slapstick comedy of the first film is missing.
Instead of the comedy, what we get is a more (if possible) serious Thorin Oakenshield (Richard Armitage), the leader of he dwarves and rightful king under the mountain. We also begin to see that perhaps Thorin is just as obsessed with the gold and jewels as his grandfather was, which led the the rousing of Smaug. You begin to see the cracks throughout the film, but it is when finally confronted by the prospect of reclaiming not just the homeland but the vast hordes of treasure underneath the mountain that Thorin becomes darker and consumed.
Greed seems to be a theme running through the film. When Thorin and the company are captured by elves, Thorin is taken before Thranduil (Lee Pace), the elven king in the north of Mirkwood, they have a heated conversation where Thranduil offers to free the dwarves in exchange for some of the riches that he feels belong to him. of course, Thorin refuses the offer.
I realize that this is a very short review for a film that is two hours and forty minutes long. It cannot be helped. To discuss more of the plot would delve deeply into spoiler territory, which is something that I try to avoid at all costs. What you need to know is that if you liked The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, you will like this. If you were on the fence about that film, you will like this. It is darker and the danger is more prevalent. This film also begins the story of The Lord of the Rings Trilogy. If you enjoyed those films, you owe it to yourself to check this out.
While some of the CGI effects are not perfect and some of the dwarves makeup is not great, the film is another rousing adventure through Middle Earth. Oh, and there is a fight with a ginormous dragon. What more could you ask for?
***1/2 out of ****
BIZZAM!! Fun Facts!
- Evangeline Lily plays Tauriel, a character created for the film. Lily also played Kate on Lost.
- Orlando Bloom reprises his role of Legolas from The Lord of the Rings Trilogy.
- Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman are also the stars of BBC’s Sherlock.