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The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug

Coming Soon

There is a sigh of relief and a rush of satisfaction for Peter Jackson’s second installment in the Hobbit saga, credited mostly to fewer dwarven dish-washing scenes and character montages. The biggest complaint I took with The Desolation of Smaug is the lack of a certain titular hero and his plight. Truth is, Bilbo Baggins takes a backseat to manufactured subplots that carry-on way longer than necessary. So…where’s Bilbo?

Smaug quickly picks up where Journey ended, with the party inching ever closer to the Lonely Mountain. The film assumes you’re invested to this point, as An Unexpected Journey meticulously set the stage for this leg of the road-trip. The dwarves, led by Thorin Oakenshield (Richard Armitage), are still on the run from a group of volatile, blood-thirsty orcs. Gandalf (Ian McKellen), as per usual, sets off on his own treacherous mission, but not before warning the crew of the dangers ahead. Those dangers include the spider-infested Mirkwood, the condescending forest elves and the unpredictable humans of Lake-town. The boiling point, however, is the awakening of Smaug, the fire-breathing dragon guarding the treasures of the mountain. But there’s also that little issue with a certain gold ring, the return of Sauron the Necromancer (yes, that Sauron), and an amassing dark army.

The film is a dazzling work of art. There is no question. Jackson has perfected the look of J.R.R. Tolkien’s world and its inhabitants. The attention to detail is beyond mesmerizing. That level of enthusiasm is characteristic of the action sequences as well. The creepy spiders of the Mirkwood will make your skin crawl. The “barrel-rider” chase along the rivers of the Wood-elf kingdom will excite beyond anything you’ve ever experienced in a Jackson Middle-earth film. Best of all, it feels like great care has been taken to recreate the pages of Tolkien’s masterpiece. But…

Anyone keeping up with the production of Jackson’s movie is aware that the writing team took liberties with Tolkien’s story. The newly created character, Tauriel (Evangeline Lilly), is a She-elf purposed for creating a love-triangle between her, Legolas and the dwarf Kili (Aidan Turner). The arc only complicates the plot and further limits Bilbo as the forefront protagonist of a novel called, The Hobbit. The success of this diversion will hinge on how the writers resolve that impending conflict in the final movie due next year. On the other hand though, having a second “Legolas-style” warrior is a lot of fun.

Benedict Cumberbatch voices not one, but two characters in the Hobbit sequel. Smaug’s is undoubtedly the most memorable, giving incredible depth to this legendary beast. His duel with the burglar Baggins is a sinister and indelible treat.

The Desolation of Smaug is a much better movie than Unexpected Journey -and I really enjoyed that first film, despite the snails-pace. Smaug is much faster and touches key novel points extremely well. It’s damn pretty too. The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug is in theaters December 13, 2013 and is rated PG-13 for extended sequences of intense fantasy action violence, and frightening images.

The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug is streaming now on the following services:
Movie Reelist Contributor: Chris Giroux
Chris Giroux is founder and editor-in-charge at Movie Reelist, an entertainment news and review blog serving the most fanatic moviegoers. Chris started his publication in Detroit in 2010 and has since reviewed hundreds of films and interviewed numerous talent across the country. He is an avid film festival attendee and red carpet photographer, having shot the likes of Steven Spielberg, Bill Murray, Mark Hamill, and more. Chris grew up in New Mexico, where he studied mass media writing while working in post-production and multimedia authoring. It is also where he discovered Big Trouble in Little China and Escape from New York, resulting in an unhealthy Kurt Russell obsession.

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