The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug is the second film in The Hobbit trilogy, a three-film adaptation of J.R.R. Tolkien’s monumental children’s book of the same name. Following the titular Hobbit character Bilbo Baggins (Martin Freeman), this fantastical story takes its viewers through a slew of adventurous scenes and locales, telling a bustling story of epic proportions.
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The Movie Review
For fans of the Lord of the Rings franchise, The Hobbit series is a great prequel that sets the stage. The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug brings more action, some fan-favorite Lord of the Rings characters, and plenty of laughs and excitement. Joined by a dozen dwarves and the legendary wizard Gandalf (Sir Ian McKellen), Bilbo embarks on the second leg of their adventure to reclaim the dwarven fortress on the Lonely Mountain.
In comparison to the lighthearted first Hobbit film, An Unexpected Journey, The Desolation of Smaug is far more dark and ominous. The group of adventurers must face increasingly dire obstacles, including necromancers, giant spiders, and dark magic. Their journey to the Lonely Mountain is far more bleak in tone, but quite a visual spectacle.
The narrative of The Desolation of Smaug deals with more than just the reclamation of the dwarven fortress Erebor, although that is the major focal point. Company wizard Gandalf spends most of the time apart from the main group, investigating rumors of an even greater danger than dragons. Bilbo and the endearing collection of dwarves have an increasingly perilous trip towards the mountain, with vengeful orcs hot on their heels.
That said, it’s a trip filled with interesting scenery and sub-plots. From impoverished lakeside towns to fantasy elf kingdoms, The Desolation of Smaug sends our troop through plenty of intriguing locales. Characters both new and old pop up along the way, with some being more entertaining than others. For the most part, The Desolation of Smaug is a riveting ride through Middle Earth, despite its rather bleak tone.
Like the first Hobbit film, The Desolation of Smaug has a handful of flaws. However, little can be complained about in terms of pacing or the amount of excitement displayed on-screen. Viewers who found An Unexpected Journey drawn out or boring will be happy to hear that this sequel delivers plenty of action and intensity. A few sequences stand out among the rest, including a frantic barrel ride down a raging river, but nearly every action scene is worth the price of admission.
This goes doubly for every scene involving the titular dragon Smaug (Benedict Cumberbatch), who commands the audience’s attention with his intimidating demeanor. A lot of credit is due to the visual effects department in terms of Smaug’s effectiveness, as the visual design of the dragon is truly epic in scale.
Apart from the fantastic action scenes and exceptional creature design, The Desolation of Smaug manages to elevate the story of Bilbo Baggins and his trip to Erebor to new heights. It’s a wholly entertaining movie, and while it might annoy some book purists (as any adaptation is likely to do), I found the two-plus hour adventure well worth my time.
The Desolation of Smaug is a great sequel and one that reaffirms the strength of the Lord of the Rings universe and lore. Any fantasy fan is sure to find something to enjoy in this second excursion into the early life of Bilbo Baggins.
- Epic action scenes keep you on your toes
- Fan-favorite characters returns
- Excellent creature design
- Some special effects are sub-par in comparison to others
- Forced comedy conflicts with the serious tone