Ohmygosh…it’s finally here, isn’t it? The crown jewel of 2013’s film library. One of my favorite movies of last year was the Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey. I was on the minority,but i found it to be more enjoyable and better handled then The first Lord of the Rings film. It has some flaws,but overall, it was a great adventure back to Middle Earth. Now we have the Desolation of Smaug. Is it a worthy successor? Oh yes. Oh yes yes yes yes.
The film picks up right where the last one left off. Bilbo,Gandalf and the company of dwarfs are making their way o the lonely mountain,while still being hunted down by Azog and his army of orcs. Along he way,they come across everything but the kitchen sink. Including a shape-shifting man named Beorn, A swarm of Spiders, Elves, orcs, and of course, the stupendous dragon himself, Smaug. This movie wastes no time getting straight into the action. After a short re-introduction to the plot, the film just becomes a roller coaster ride after.
One of the earliest and most fascinating sequences of the film involves the most underused character. Beorn is a shape shifter ( or as the book says,a skin changer.) who can take the form of a man, or a bear. His kind is something that we haven’t seen before in this franchise, and his backstory and character is very interesting. unfortunately, he doesn’t have much to do in this film. He chases our main characters in his bear form, then gives them some information about his kind an their quest,and after giving them some ponies, he’s done. We never see him again. Now thankfully, we will be seeing this character again by the third movie (There and Back again) But I just wanted to see a little more of him.
Mirkwood is just fantastic. They really play up the surreal and uneasy feeling that you would get in a situation like this, and it’s one of the most frightening parts of the movie. The Spiders are wonderfully handled, and are just as frightening as Shelobe (the giant spider) from Return of the King. Bilbo’s obsession with the ring really becomes evident in this scene as well, and provides us with some nice foreshadowing but some great character development too. The Wood Elves are also great. This is where we get intruduced to legolas and tauriel. These two characters weren’t in the book, but thankfully, they don’t feel forced in, and provide the film with some of the most memorable action scenes,and heartfelt moments.
The highlight of this entire film, is arguably the Barrel scene. It’s wonderfully choreographed, the action is great, it’s funny, it’s exiting, and every character gets a moment to shine. Especially Bombur. I know that alot of people are looking forward to this scene,and the less I say about it the better. But I have yet to talk to someone who was disappointed with this scene.
The only part of the movie that drags on a little for me is Laketown. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a great location,and we are introduced to some great characters here, but it just felt very slow,and for a movie that’s 3 hours long,chances are it’s going to be hard to avoid this problem. The being said though,there’s still alot to love about this section on the movie. The King of Laketown is delightfully stupid, and his actions cleverly mirror those of the Goblin King from the first movie. He also has an assistant named Alfred,who i suppose is this movies answer to the Tow Towers’s Wormtongue. these two play off of eachother really well, and make for great side villains. And then there’s Bard, and just to set the record straight; HE IS NOT PLAYED BY ORLANDO BLOOM!!!! Sorry..i just had to get that out there. Now with that out of the way, he’s a good character. He seems to be the film’s voice of reason, and is given alot to do in the film once he arrives.
Now let’s stop for a moment, and talk about my expectations for Smaug. Last year’s Unexpected Journey really built the character up as this invincible and terrifying villain. Being a dragon lover, I got hyped. However,when I first saw the design for Smaug, I thought to myself ”….eh.” It’s not that his design was bad, it just reminded me f too many other dragons i’ve seen in hr past. I was a little worried that he could never live up to my expectations. Thankfully though, any concerns you have for Smaug can be thrown out the window. This dragon is an AMAZING villain. He’s scary,he’s cunning,he’s brilliant, he looks like he’s really there,and he’s voiced by Benedict Cumberbatch!!!!! I LOVE SMAUG!! He’s my favorite villain of this franchise. No..he’s better then that! He’s my favorite movie villain of 2013!!! Wait..I can do better. He’s the shining example of an iconic Movie villain. The entire sequence involving him and Bilbo messing with eachother is just brilliant. Again,the less I say about Smaug the better, but believe me when I say, he does NOT disappoint!!!!
*WARNING: Minor Spoilers ahead:
The part of this film that has the most people torn though,is the ending. And..yeah, I guess I can understand that…kinda. Some people love it and say it’s perfect, while some people absolutely despise it and thinks it’s the worst way to end a movie. Me personally? I love to hate it. I think the ending works wonderfully because of how much it leaves you wanting more. Think about it this way, did the ending really anger you? Did it leave you feeling incomplete? Then the movie must have done a great job at keeping your attention for three hours. I loved the way this movie ended,and concerning the third and final film of this trilogy, I haven’t been looking forward to how a movie is going to start off this much in a long time.
All the characters in this movie are great. Aside from the new ones I talked about, the recurring cast does just as great of a job as they did in the first movie. Martin Freeman completely NAILS is as Bilbo Baggins. He’s just so likable,but he’s also relatable. Gandalf isn’t given as much screen time in this movie,but his subplot has a great payoff. All the dwarves get more development too, and you feel more connected to the company’s quest then ever by this point.
The music is great. It’s a little more of the same as the last Hobbit flick, but has enough new themes (as well as a great end credits song) to make it feel fresh and new. The effects are all well done,but I preferred when they had actual people play the orcs rather then have them all be CG,but thats just a minor nitpick. The pacing of this movie was better then last time around, and as I said before,it only dragged on for a little bit, then Smaug picked it right back up. As for the 3D, it’s not nearly as impressive as An Unexpected Journey’s, and after seeing it in 2D, I’d say go for the cheaper option.
The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug is my favorite film of 2013, no question. Is it perfect? Pfft, no. But it’s damn near the best we are going to get out of this franchise. I loved nearly every frame of this beauty. And I can not WAIT to see how this story ends this time next year. That’s all for 2013. Have a safe and Happy new year everyone!!!