The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug

Spoiler alert – I’m about to discuss what this movie isn’t, so while there won’t be any specific details revealed you may want to skip down to the 3rd paragraph as I am going to tell you what the movie’s purpose is which may ruin the experience of discovering it for yourself…

If you’re looking for resolution with this film, you’re not going to get it. This film serves as a very effective bridge to what will be the third movie. The upside is that there’s a lot of great action and excitement as well as more information as to where things are going. The downside is the ending will leave you with that “NOOOOOOO!!!” feeling where you want the film to last another 3 hours just so you know how things will be resolved. So, while resolution won’t be on the menu for the film, it’s still a great ride that you’ll be sorry is over at the end.

Ok, so back to the basics… The writing is great and is based on a number of different things. It’s centered around The Hobbit of course but has elements of both Lord of the Rings and The Silmarillion. If you’ve read the books, you’ll be aware of the subtle nods here and there to each book. There’s also the inclusion of Legolas who didn’t appear until LOTR. The way he’s worked in actually functions quite well and he didn’t feel out of place. Guillermo Del Toro contributed to the screenplay along with Peter Jackson.

Speaking of PJ, he’s back in the saddle directing of course and doesn’t miss a beat making this a great installment in the series with his vision of Tolkien’s universe. His team made a film that’s memorable, fun, exciting and unapologetically leaves you wanting much more. Visually, it’s stunning, especially the scenes in Erebor with Smaug. I still think Jackson’s effects branch, Weta Digital is the best in the business.

The actors all bring their A games as they have traditionally in each film installment whether it be LOTR or The Hobbit. Martin Freeman as young Bilbo has been an excellent casting decision as he embodies Bilbo’s awkward out-of-his-element vibe while growing as the character discovers his courage more and more. The dwarves are fun and tough (and surprisingly agile) led by Richard Armitage as the dwarf king Thorin. His performance is probably the most passionate although none of the actors fall short of their character’s emotional range. Evangeline Lily is a nice addition to the lineup and plays an elf very convincingly. Then there’s Sir Ian McKellan who is always excellent filling the considerably monumental role of Gandalf.

Fantastic. Go see it in the theater, a bunch of times…

reviewed by Sean McKnight