Thursday, December 26, 2013

FILM REVIEW: The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug

The Other Half and I kicked off our annual end-of-year moviegoing season with Peter Jackson's The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug. This is the second film in the trilogy of movies which are a film adaptation of The Hobbit, the young-adult book that is a prequel to the Lord of the Rings. Last year we saw The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, which generally was viewed by most as unnecessarily long. Many fans of the books and the movies are scandalized that Jackson is turning one (frankly, not very long) book into three relatively long movies.

We saw The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug at the Arclight Cinemas in Pasadena, not in 3-D or HFR but just regular 2-D.

The interesting difference between The Hobbit movies and the Lord of the Rings movies is that the former is based around dwarves as the main characters. This is useful because hobbits and dwarves are supposed to be about the same (short) height and so there are much fewer odd height juxtapositions in these films. However, there are some characters from the first series of films that also appear in the second: Legolas (Orlando Bloom), Gandalf (Sir Ian McKellen) and, Galadriel (Cate Blanchett), VERY briefly.

The key character in The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug is of course, Smaug, the dragon. Amusingly, Smaug is voiced by Benedict Cumberbatch (of Sherlock and Star Trek Into Darkness fame) while Martin Freeman (who plays Watson to Cumberbatch's Sherlock) plays Bilbo Baggins, the sole hobbit member of the dwarf expedition to reclaim their treasure stolen by Smaug.

The second edition in the The Hobbit trilogy is significantly better than the first. The action is sharper and the story more focused. Another positive addition to the film is the character of Tauriel played by Evangeline Lilly, a fierce elf that we meet in Mirkwood, the dark, enchanted forest our heroes have to get through in order to reach the Lonely Mountain.

Once they do finally get to the Mountain and encounter Smaug the action does tend to drag on a little and then the film suddenly ends without the quest having been resolved. For that, we will have to wait until next year's The Hobbit: There and Back Again.

TitleThe Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug.
Director: Peter Jackson.
Running Time: 2 hours, 41 minutes.
MPAA Rating: Rated PG-13 for extended sequences of intense fantasy action violence, and frightening images.
Release Date: December 13, 2013.
Viewing Date: December 20, 2013.

Writing: A.
Acting: A.
Visuals: A+.
Impact: A-.

Overall Grade: A (4.0/4.0).

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