Rating: 4.5 out of 5
Oh wow, did this movie make my entire year! I think that all of us Tolkien fans have approached this trilogy with much-deserved skepticism, given that director Peter Jackson is stretching The Hobbit into three movies and padding the plot with a lot of invented material. Even as much as I love Legolas, I was worried that his cameo and the creation of Tauriel, played by Evangeline Lilly, weren’t going to add much value to the already amazing story.
However, I am so glad that this sequel lived up to my expectations, because very seldom has a 2 hour, 40 min movie been this exhilarating! Even my friend Celia, who is not familiar with the novel, enjoyed herself.
And how could you not? Every scene, from the lighthearted barrel escape to the dramatic confrontation between Gandalf and Sauron, kept you on the edge of your seat. It’s funny that despite already knowing the fates of these characters, every danger they faced still riveted me in suspense.
Of course, the magic of Tolkien is greatly enhanced in the 3D version. It’s still mind-blowing to see how far cinematic technology has come; watching the film with its high frame rate elevated the experience by immersing the audience in Middle-earth. You’ll appreciate each release of an arrow or buzz of a bee so much more if you spend those extra couple bucks and view the film the way it was intended to be viewed.
If you’re more impressed by acting than action scenes, not to worry either. It was easy to relate to each character, because they all had very specific motivations: Thorin and the dwarves to reclaim their homeland, Thranduil to protect Mirkwood from the evils of Dol Goldur, and Bard to make up for his ancestor’s failings and save Laketown.
That’s not to say these characters are one-dimensional. Martin Freeman did an amazing job portraying Bilbo, as we got to catch a glimpse of how the One Ring is slowly corrupting his mind. This usually good-natured hobbit is beginning to succumb to the darkness which will only be destroyed on Frodo’s own adventure.
But if you’re simply nodding your head impatiently, because you only care about one particular character, let me cut to the chase: Smaug has got to be the best depiction of a dragon that I have ever seen. Dare I say, possibly the best monster on film ever.
I absolutely cannot wait to watch the behind-the-scenes footage to learn more about Smaug’s creation, because holy moly was he fantastic! And I’m not just saying that because he was voiced by the charming Benedict Cumberbatch, but let’s face it, that certainly helped!
I only docked this movie a half-point because with so much going on, oftentimes I felt that scenes changed too abruptly–especially during important moments like the one between Kili and Tauriel! And of course, the biggest abrupt change is the ending: yet another frustrating cliffhanger that forces fans to wait another year for the much-anticipated conclusion.
Let me know what you thought of “The Desolation of Smaug,” and be sure to check back soon for my final book review and my summary of 2013!