Last Level Press

Film Review: The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug

Reviewer: Olen Bjorgo

The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug is the second in this incredibly long trilogy that takes place not too long after the first film, in which Bilbo Baggins and the company of Thorin Oakenshield continue their journey to the Lonely Mountain, where ancient treasures of the dwarves and Thorin’s birthright as a king reside. As you might imagine, this includes gorgeous scenery, lots of walking, and battles with orcs who continue to trail our band of adventurers in search of treasure, glory, and revenge. But how does it stand up?

Or float, as the case may be?

As with The Lord of the Rings triology and the previous Hobbit film, The Desolation of Smaug looks amazing, with expansive shots of grassy plains, harrowing mountain ranges, and just gorgeous environments in general. A lot of the shots in the film tend to be somewhat disorienting, which coincidentally are seen most when there are eerie or cursed areas under a dark influence. Perhaps the most impressive scene was the barrel scene, where Bilbo and the dwarves are do improvised white-water rafting in wine barrels as they’re attacked from all sides by orcs. It is honestly one of the best action scenes in the film simply because it can border on the impossible, but feels fun.

The audio is grand and sweeping music with a touch of medieval and typical high fantasy tones that you’ve come to know and expect from Howard Shore. One notable track that stood out in my mind is, for whatever reason, the theme that plays when they reach this town located on a lake. It only played twice, but it sounded very much like a merchant town theme in an RPG, and I just liked it. In a strange way, I was more interested with what was on screen than the soundtrack, but it wasn’t forgettable; it was just there.

Like Stephen Colbert’s cameo in the same scene.  No, really.

In conjunction with the main plot of Bilbo and the dwarves heading to the Lonely Mountain, there is also the subplot of Gandalf looking into the forces of darkness growing in Middle-Earth and, out of left field, a love story between a Wood Elf and a dwarf. While there are a few moments that just so happen to conveniently occur when they need to, much of the transition between these different plots is easy enough to grasp. The problem is the length. While there’s enough action happening in the film to make you forget how long it is, it does feel like it’s bloated in some areas, but the padding doesn’t feel like it did in An Unexpected Journey. However, the ending feels like Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest in the sense that it will either make you excited to see the next film or feel deflated because you were expecting something more conclusive than clearly baiting you to see the next film. I’m not alone in saying it feels like making a single book into a trilogy, even with side material to expand on a lore that many people (myself included) aren’t versed in, is primarily unneeded.

The acting is top notch, as to be expected with Martin Freeman (Sherlock, The World’s End) playing a more confident and trickier Bilbo, Ian McKellen (Lord of the Rings, The Da Vinci Code) playing the wise and powerful Gandalf the Grey, Richard Armitage (Captain America: The First Avenger, Spooks) playing the proud and determined leader, Thorin Oakenshield, and even features the talents of Stephen Fry as well as Orlando Bloom, reprising his role of Legolas. The titular Smaug is voiced and motion captured by Benedict Cumberbatch (Sherlock, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy), and of all the characters this one is the most perplexing because with how much editing was done on the voice they could have gotten anyone they wanted to be the voice and motion capture person. Perhaps the smug sense of superiority and overwhelming confidence in ability is the reason why a man who plays Sherlock Holmes was chosen to be Smaug, and if that’s the case I like to imagine that Mr. Cumberbatch enjoyed it since he was able to really gloat before his Watson.

“Go on.  Laugh at my motion capture.  I dare you.”

The Hobbit: Desolation of Smaug is long and engrossing. If you didn’t find the first Hobbit movie enjoyable you’ll possibly enjoy this more action-driven film. If you did enjoy the first Hobbit film, you’ll probably enjoy this. If you’re a die-hard Tolkien fan, you’ll definitely enjoy picking apart what was in the book, what wasn’t in the book, what really wasn’t in the book, and possibly be amused at seeing Legolas being a badass while also being a jerk. As Mr. Black will undoubtedly explain, not everyone will enjoy this film. But if you’re like me and a casual fan of the films, you might come out enjoying it like I did.

Rating: 6.6

Visuals: 8
Audio: 6
Narrative: 6
Acting: 7
Atmosphere & Experience: 6

Final Verdict:


Want a second

opinion? Check out Mr. Black’s


  Director: Peter Jackson

  Producer: Carolynne Cunningham

                   Zane Weiner

                   Fran Walsh

                   Peter Jackson

  Studio:  New Line Cinema


                WingNut Films

  Release Date (U.S.): Dec 13, 2013

  Release Date (U.K.): Dec 13, 2013

  Release Date (JP):  Feb 28, 2014

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