Way back in January this year, I reviewed the first part of this trilogy An Unexpected Journey. Therefore, it was only natural that I’d see The Desolation Of Smaug. Even more so after learning that Smaug the dragon was being voiced by none other than Benedict Cumberbatch. I’m sure I raved enough about him in my Star Trek: Into Darkness review, so I shall refrain from doing so again.
The second instalment of The Hobbit begins before the events of the first film with a meeting between Gandalf (McKellen) and Thorin (Armitage) about the legendary Arkenstone and the possibility of acquiring a burglar to steal it back from Smaug (Cumberbatch). The action then changes to pick up where the previous film left off and the group are being pursued by a group of Orcs. After meeting skin-changer Beorn and getting captured by giant spiders, Gandalf leaves without explanation on discovering mysterious symbols on an old ruin. Bilbo uses the ring, which he is still hiding from the group, to free the dwarves from the spiders and they are then captured by elves.
Getting into several other scrapes before landing themselves in the village of Esgaroth. Thorin promises the Master of Laketown (Fry) a share of the treasure in the mountain and the dwarves and Bilbo set off. On gaining entry, Bilbo begins his search for the Arkenstone within the chamber of Smaug who he toys with before the dwarves arrive to help him out. The group attempt to kill Smaug and retrieve the stone but fail, leaving him to fly out of the mountain and onto the Lake-town.
Plenty of action and adventure is packed into the film’s 160 minutes. It’s definitely not short on fast-paced chase scenes and fantastical war. However, the introduction of female elf Tauriel (Evangeline Lilly) brought with a budding love triangle between her, Legolas (Bloom) and Kili the dwarf (Aidan Turner). This aspect felt a little contrived to me. I haven’t read the book, so I’m not sure if this is a Tolkien or a Jackson idea but it just felt a little irrelevant in a fantasy adventure story. A young feisty female’s arrival does not require a love story.
As with the first film, there is plenty of humour and emotional moments. Martin Freeman is the perfect subtle comedian and of course, the older members of the dwarf party provide loveable old-man characters. As mentioned, there are a few new faces this time around such as Tauriel who acts as the obligatory strong girl and Legolas who is sure to get plenty of female hearts racing. There is also a lot of spectacular CGI work, which is done excellently allowing the terrifying monsters to really leap off of the screen.
Ending on a cliffhanger is always great motivation to see the next film and The Desolation Of Smaug certainly has that wow-factor. The final episode There And Back Again is released in December 2014 and in my opinion, it is far too long to wait!