<Review by: Daylynn DeSouza>
Directed by Peter Jackson. Starring Ian McKellen, Martin Freeman, Richard Armitage, Ken Stott, Lee Pace, Orlando Bloom, Cate Blanchett, Evangeline Lilly, Benedict Cumberbatch, Aidan Turner, Stephen Fry, Mikael Persbrandt
If you’re one of those people who thinks that this Tolkien based franchise is just a huge money making scheme then go back to sitting at Starbucks and waiting for the sequels to James Cameron’s ‘brilliant’ movie Avatar.
However, if you’re somebody who does understand sarcasm and has any intellect or common sense and appreciation for good story telling accompanied by stunning visuals and background score, then you’ll probably appreciate the genius and talent of Peter Jackson and the rest of cast and crew behind The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug. You need to watch the first movie (The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey) before you watch this though (I recommend the extended edition).
The story picks up where the first movie left off. Thirteen Dwarfs assisted by the Wizard Gandalf (Ian McKellen) and the Hobbit Bilbo (Martin Freeman) continue their quest to reclaim their homeland and treasures (namely the Arkenstone) from the Dragon Smaug. On their journey they must face the perils of Orcs, Wargs, Wood Elves (who unlike their kin are not as wise and friendly), the Necromancer (whom Gandalf must deal with) and of course Smaug himself.
Now, you must be warned, at the end of the movie you will want to immediately watch the next instalment of this trilogy. And yes, you must keep in mind that this is a trilogy. This movie is not a stand-alone movie and should not be viewed as such unless you’re an utter ignoramus. The cinematography is amazing, particularly the scenes with the dwarfs riding barrels. There’s enough action that surpasses the coolness of anything you’ve seen in the Lord of the Rings Trilogy.
The actors all do an amazing job and it was brilliant to see Orlando Bloom as Legolas once again; Mikael Persbrandt as Beorn is quite a tremendous presence on screen. But, while all the dwarfs and other characters have their moments on screen the characters that really caught my eye in this film were Tauriel (Evangeline Lilly), Gandalf (Ian McKellen), Thorin (Richard Armitage), The Master of Laketown (Stephen Fry) and of course Bilbo (Martin Freeman).
Tauriel being an original creation of Peter Jackson’s blended into the story seamlessly and you’ll quickly fall in love with her. Gandalf obviously, was brilliant as usual and we get to see him do battle with the Necromancer. Thorin and Bilbo on the other hand both reveal that there’s more to them than meets the eye when they begin to show their darker sides. We get to watch the Ring affect Bilbo and Thorin’s greed affects him. And both actors portray this brilliantly. Martin Freeman is particularly good at being able to convey a multitude of emotions with just a single expression. Stephen Fry’s disgusting portrayal of the Master of Laketown is brilliant and is almost as wicked as the great goblin in the first movie.
And don’t worry I’ve left the best for last: Smaug (Benedict Cumberbatch) the Stupendous is every bit as fearsome and breath taking as he should be. I especially love the fact that he actually sounds like a monster rather than Sean Connery (in Dragon Heart) or anybody else that ever voiced a Dragon in a movie. The dialogue between Bilbo and Smaug is one the best bits of movie there is. You also, get to see Legolas’ homeland and the lives of the Wood Elves.
As far as visuals and sounds, I rate them both at 11 out of 10 in 2D and 9 out of 10 for the visuals in 3D. Obviously, as 3D always does it makes dark things appear darker and harder to see. Which is a shame every time you miss getting to fully appreciate Smaug.
The soundtrack and just the sound effects in general in this movie add more depth to it than 3D ever could. And unlike the first movie almost all the music for this movie is new. Although, you do get to hear some old favourites like the Shire and other themes from Lord of the Rings.
This movie is a brilliant work of story telling and art and is a must watch for any Tolkien fan. Just not necessarily in 3D especially if you want to appreciate the details and enormity of Smaug. If you still decide to watch it in 3D then it’s IMAX or nothing. The only thing wrong with this is movie is that you have to wait for the extended edition to come out. Continue the quest!