The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug (2013)
Review by Jude Felton
Way back when I was a wee lad, one of the first books I recall ever reading was JRR Tolkien’s The Hobbit (or there and back again). It was a fairly well-worn copy that my father owned, and no doubt still does. I couldn’t tell you when it was printed, suffice to say that it was/is probably a lot older than you or I. This of course lead to reading the Lord of the Rings trilogy, which were equally as old but hardcopies, and I was hooked. Middle Earth was a glorious place and, thanks to Peter Jackson, it still is.
Now, I wasn’t one of the many that rushed out to see the films (I had seen the animated versions), instead I wanted to savior them. I did catch The Two Towers at the theater, with my father, no less, but it is only fairly recently that I have found the time to truly enjoy these films.
The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey was, and still is, a terrific movie. It sets up the entire mythos perfectly, and fortunately The Desolation of Smaug continues the story perfectly. Let’s face it, if you enjoy Peter Jackson’s Middle Earth movies, you’re probably going to enjoy this one.
The film continues the journey of Bilbo Baggins and the party of Dwarves that accompany him, as they set out to reclaim the Dwarves kingdom; one that has for the longest time been the property of the dragon, Smaug. Of course, into this mix you can throw Elves, including Legolas, giant spiders, Gandalf, Sauron and just about everything else you might expect. These films are all interrelated, with characters and situations being referred to from other films (books). After all, the book that Bilbo is writing in Fellowship of the Ring is The Hobbit.
The Desolation of Smaug is visually stunning from start to finish, with seamless special effects, glorious vistas and plenty of walking. Seriously, I could set aside a weekend just to devote to these films and whilst Desolation of Smaug lacked some of the more touching moments, from An Unexpected Journey, it still worked perfectly as absolutely sumptuous movie. The characters are delightful, even those whose motives are less than pure.
As with any of Jackson’s Middle Earth films, they don’t really work well as stand-alone movies, but they aren’t supposed to. I purposely watched An Unexpected Journey fairly recently in order to keep it fresh in my mind for this follow-up, and it worked perfectly.
Once again though, Jackson has struck gold in my eyes and I cannot wait for the final chapter in this trilogy. The Desolation of Smaug is, as you might expect, a lengthy film at just under 3 hours, but the time flies by. When the credits role, you’ll just want to continue the story! The books have always been a part of my life and it’s great to see the stories shown the love and affection that Jackson affords them. Not bad for a guy who started out making splatter flicks!
I know that this review probably won’t sway your opinion either way; you were either going to watch it or you weren’t. However, if you did need persuading, I say watch it at your earliest convenience. The Desolation of Smaug is pure, wonderful movie escapism and gets my highest recommendation.
The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug is released on Blu-ray and DVD by Warner Bros. on April 8th.