'The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug' continues the adventure of the title character Bilbo Baggins as he journeys with the Wizard Gandalf and thirteen Dwarves led by Thorin Oakenshield on an epic quest to reclaim the Lonely Mountain and the lost Dwarf Kingdom of Erebor. Having survived the beginning of their unexpected journey the Company continues East encountering along the way the skin-changer Beorn and a swarm of giant Spiders in the treacherous forest of Mirkwood. After escaping capture by the dangerous Wood-elves the Dwarves journey to Lake-town and finally... to the Lonely Mountain itself where they must face the greatest danger of all - a creature more terrifying than any other; one which will test not only the depth of their courage but the limits of their friendship and the wisdom of the journey itself - the Dragon Smaug. Special Features: New Zealand: Home of Middle Earth - Part 2 Hobbit: Desolation of Smaug - Trailer 1 Hobbit: Desolation of Smaug - Trailer 2 [show more]
a lord of the rings movie should be a 4 - 5 out of 5 this one is a 3 better than the last one but deserves to be better
Peter Jackson's second "Hobbit" film falls victim to many of the same problems that beset the first: uneven pacing, an unnecessarily padded-out story, and a general feeling of directorial indulgence that leaves the movie feel bloated and unwieldy. However, it also benefits from the same strengths: some strong central performances (in particular Martin Freeman as the titular Hobbit himself - Bilbo Baggins - and Sir Ian McKellen as Gandalf the wizard), some unexpectedly satisfying connections to the original "Lord of the Rings" trilogy, and some wonderful special effects.
The result is a movie that is good if never quite great, and which features enough in the way of inventive action and fantastical creatures to keep you reasonably entertained for its more than two-and-a-half-hour duration.
Chief among these fantastical creatures is Smaug, the dragon who guards the cave of treasures into which Bilbo is sent to steal an ancient Dwarvish stone. Smaug - voiced by Freeman's "Sherlock" co-star, Benedict Cumberbatch - is translated to film so perfectly that it feels as though somebody pulled the imagery straight from the mind of my twelve-year-old self. Just like Bilbo's interaction with Gollum in the first Hobbit film, the character's scenes with Smaug are largely confined to tense one-on-one confrontations, with no other actors present. This gives director Jackson the chance to really pare things down and focus on his characters as they weigh each other up, making the actors' performances the very centre of the production and giving us easily the movie's most compelling scene in the process. And crucially, it means that when the action does start to heat up a little later, we're already emotionally invested in these characters, so that the conflict feels like it really means something.
Sadly, this kind of restraint is absent elsewhere, as we get the same kind of excesses from Jackson that ruined his "King Kong" movie - and which also compromised the first film in the "Hobbit" trilogy to an extent. A fairly long prologue involving the shape-shifting, half-man-half-bear character Beorn adds very little to the story, making it feel out-of-place and unnecessary. A subplot in which Bilbo and his Dwarf friends are imprisoned by elves is initially interesting, but is drawn out for so long with so little in the way of forward movement that it becomes an exercise in treading water (and that's not to mention a pretty pointless extended cameo from Orlando Bloom as the elf Legolas, which has been completely invented for the movie). And in the second half of the film, the crew ends up spending what feels like an age doing very little in Laketown - a dull, waterlogged village presided over by a pantomime-ish Stephen Fry (seemingly channelling his Lord Melchett character from "Blackadder") - just as it feels like things ought to be getting moving.
The frustrating thing is that in between all of these disappointing sequences, you get flashes of greatness: what could have been a cliché journey through a spooky forest becomes a wonderfully trippy and disturbing scene, as Bilbo and his Dwarf friends succumb to disorientation and paranoia shortly before being attacked by a group of spiders that are even scarier than Shelob from "Lord of the Rings". Equally, there's a compelling action sequence in which Bilbo and the Dwarves escape from their elvish captors in barrels floating down a river, while at the same time battling Orcs as the camera seamlessly whips around to show the action from all angles, giving you a feeling of exhilaration that's comparable to being on a theme-park ride. And the extra bits of plot that Jackson has inserted into the story of the book occasionally fare pretty well, particularly the showdown between Gandalf and the Necromancer - a precursor to the major villain Sauron from Lord of the Rings - which gives us a fantastic demonstration of the two magicians' powers and which ends on a killer cliffhanger.
But chopping between the dreary and dull scenes and the genuinely interesting and fast-moving ones gives the film such an up-and-down feeling that it's impossible to ever get completely drawn in by it. These pacing problems are perhaps best exemplified by the movie's supremely underwhelming ending: an inconclusive battle between the Dwarves and Smaug that would have made a fine mini-climax in the middle of the franchise's final chapter (the Hobbit films were originally planned as just two movies), but which falls a little flat as the conclusion to a film in its own right. I'm growing increasingly convinced that two movies (or even just one very long movie) would have been the perfect format for the story of the Hobbit, because on the evidence provided here, three movies just feels too padded and excessive.
"The Desolation of Smaug", then, is the very definition of a three-star movie: a curate's egg of a film that can be brilliant one moment and mediocre the next, but which just about hangs together well enough as a whole to make it reasonably entertaining. It's very far from the perfect feat of adaptation that was Jackson's original Lord of the Rings trilogy, but as a companion piece to those wonderful movies, it's worth a look.
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Please note this is a region 2 DVD and will require a region 2 (Europe) or region Free DVD Player in order to play. The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug continues the adventure of the title character Bilbo Baggins as he journeys with the Wizard Gandalf and thirteen Dwarves, led by Thorin Oakenshield, on an epic quest to reclaim the Lonely Mountain and the lost Dwarf Kingdom of Erebor. Having survived the beginning of their unexpected journey, the Company continues East, encountering along the way the skin-changer Beorn and a swarm of giant Spiders in the treacherous forest of Mirkwood. After escaping capture by the dangerous Wood-elves, the Dwarves journey to Lake-town, and finally to the Lonely Mountain itself, where they must face the greatest danger of all-a creature more terrifying than any other; one which will test not only the depth of their courage but the limits of their friendship and the wisdom of the journey itself - the Dragon Smaug. Actors Martin Freeman, Ian McKellen, Richard Armitage, Ken Stott, James Nesbitt, Aiden Turner, Orlando Bloom, Evangeline Lilly, Cate Blanchett, Benedict Cumberbatch, Sylvester McCoy & Stephen Fry Director Peter Jackson Year 2013 Languages English
The second of three epic instalments in director Peter Jackson's blockbuster prequel to 'The Lord of the Rings' trilogy. Set in Middle-Earth 60 years before events in 'The Lord of the Rings', the story follows the adventures of Hobbit Bilbo Baggins (Martin Freeman), who, at the instigation of the wizard Gandalf (Ian McKellen), suddenly finds himself co-opted into joining a company of 13 Dwarves led by Thorin Oakenshield (Richard Armitage) to help reclaim the lost kingdom of the Lonely Mountain from the clutches of Smaug the dragon (voice of Benedict Cumberbatch). In this film, while Gandalf heads south on his own, Bilbo, Thorin and the Dwarves enter the treacherous Mirkwood Forest on their way to the mountain. When they reach Lake-town Bilbo will have to perform the role he was assigned at the start of the quest - to find a secret door that will lead him to the lair of the dragon...