When ‘The Hobbit’ came out last year I wasn’t quite sure what to expect. Would it be as magical as the original ‘Lord of the Rings’ trilogy had become for me, or would it feel like a unnecessary addition.
Looking back on it, I can’t say I fully enjoyed ‘The Hobbit’ as much as any of the other films, something felt ‘off’ to me.
So now, one year later, we get the sequel called ‘The desolation of Smaug’, does it fair better then its predecessor?
For starters, where ‘The Hobbit’ took a long time to gain some pace, its sequel brings us straight back to where we left the gang. With a short opener which should get lotr fans massively going ‘I know that place’ we soon find our gang of dwarves and their titular hobbit on their quest to the lonely mountain.
The sequel, which is the 2nd in a total of 3 ‘Hobbit’ movies (of which the last one will be in cinemas christmas 2014) benefits from the fact that all the characters are already established and introduced (though I still can’t tell all the dwarves apart) and the fact that its universe is well known.
Where the first movie had to revisit old sets and characters, the sequel thrusts us into places we haven’t seen before, and as welcoming as it is for us, I imagine it felt the same for Peter Jackson.
His direction is flawless, with sufficient exposition for all the characters as well as glorious set pieces which I won’t spoil here.
The sequel inevitably also brings us to the grand reveal of Smaug.
Up until now, all we saw (if you were smart enough to hang around till after the credits that is) was his eye.
Well, this time around we get a whole lot more, and I must say I was blown away by his performance.
Benedict Cumberbatch, (of Sherlock Holmes fame, as well as Kahn in the latest Star Trek movie) does his voice and gives one of his best performances of the year as the overly confident and arrogant Smaug.
It’s the moment that we’ve all been waiting for and when the final showdown between Bilbo and Smaug begins, it’s more then you could’ve hoped for.
It’s elegantly done, with more suspense than you’d expect from a movie which also caters to the smaller children and it’s in these moments that Martin Freeman really shines as Bilbo.
I forgot about Frodo, Sam or Gollum and got invested in Bard, Bilbo and Kili.
Also back in this sequel is Legolas, who seems to have a different type of character then we’ve come to known from him in the LOTR movies. And a new character which doesn’t stem from the Tolkien books called Tauriel (played by Evangeline Lily from ‘Lost’) who feels fully realised instead of tacked on to the story.
Are there any downsides to this sequel? yes.
There are still large parts where the movie doesn’t seem to move its story forward and the cast of dwarves still has trouble to individually present itself to the audience.
They serve more as a band of merry jokers then they do as fully realised characters.
However, and this is a big however, the movie does finally feel as if it’s part of its major inheritance.
There’s a sense of majority and weight to the story and it feels more tied into the dna of Frodo and his friends.
The movie ends on a cliffhanger and I for one can’t help but feel completely invested into the franchise.
I’d rather see part 3 this month instead of a whole full year later and I think, if pulled off right, this trilogy could make history.
Do you guys now any movie which gets to part 6 and manages to do what these guys are doing?
The Desolation of Smaug is a must see, and a contender for the movie of the year.
PS. Don’t bother to hang around til after the credits, there is no stinger here unfortunately!