Review: THE HOBBIT: THE DESOLATION OF SMAUG (2013) | Casey's Movie Mania | Movie Reviews, Features & Others

Thursday, 19 December 2013


It's still draggy in places, but at least THE HOBBIT: THE DESOLATION OF SMAUG is a minor improvement over the bloated first HOBBIT movie.

A year ago when THE HOBBIT: AN UNEXPECTED JOURNEY was first arrived in the cinemas, the overall response wasn't that encouraging. But fortunately, the movie still managed to make tons of money at the worldwide box office. In this second chapter, fans can breathe a sigh of relief (albeit not entirely) as writer-director Peter Jackson manages to give THE HOBBIT: THE DESOLATION OF SMAUG a better push this time around.


Picked up where THE HOBBIT: AN UNEXPECTED JOURNEY last left off, the second chapter begins with a flashback involving a secret early meeting between Thorin Oakenshield (Richard Armitage) and Gandalf (Ian McKellen). Soon the movie resumes with Bilbo Baggins (Martin Freeman), Thorin, Gandalf and 12 other dwarfs struggling on a treacherous journey to the Lonely Mountains to battle against the fire-breathing dragon Smaug (voice of Benedict Cumberbatch) and retrieve the powerful gem called Arkenstone.

The first half is especially gripping and from the moment there, it seems that Peter Jackson has finally getting his groove back. In fact, it almost has the spectacular vibe of THE LORD OF THE RINGS trilogy-like excitement.

The returning cast are more robust this time around, while newcomers to the series -- including Lee Pace as the head of the elf Thranduil and Luke Evans as Bard the Bowman are adequate enough for their roles. Fans of THE LORD OF THE RINGS trilogy will be pleased to see Orlando Bloom reprising his iconic role as Legolas, that gives this second chapter a much-needed boost. But it was Evangeline Lilly who steals most of the show as the lovely but deadly elf warrior Tauriel (Ironically, the Tauriel character is actually not existed in the original J.R.R. Tolkien's books but rather specifically created by Peter Jackson and his team of screenwriters). As Smaug, Benedict Cumberbatch's sinister-like voice fits the role well, while the CG creation of the enormous fire-breathing dragon itself is a technical marvel of special effects. 

Speaking of the first half of the movie, the scene where Bilbo and his gang riding the barrels down the river while fighting off against a group of vicious Orcs is vintage Peter Jackson. It's almost like experiencing a theme-park ride especially the way the camerawork creatively navigates around the action sequence. Adding to the fun during the sequence is Legolas, who again, always has his unique way to dispatch the enemies with bow-and-arrows in the utmost acrobatic fashion.
Up until the aforementioned barrel-in-the-river chase sequence, it's strange that the rest of the movie gradually feels like a step backward. Sure, there are still plenty of action around but the excitement is surprisingly lackluster. Even the climactic battle scene between Bilbo and the dwarfs against Smaug inside the Lonely Mountains feels long-winded and staged to the point of exhaustion that some of the viewers might be wondering: Is Peter Jackson running out of steam already? In fact, if you pay attention during that sequence, it seems baffling that Peter Jackson chooses to stall Smaug's action by making him throwing endless monologues against the dwarfs (you know, the villain who talks too much) so he can end this second chapter abruptly and make way for THE HOBBIT: THERE AND BACK AGAIN. Is it really necessary to stretch that far until third chapter whereas the two HOBBIT movies (which originally conceived as such) are more than enough to end everything? Finally there's the love story between Tauriel and a tall dwarf named Kili (Aidan Turner), which feels rather unnecessary.

THE HOBBIT: THE DESOLATION OF SMAUG is a good entertainment. In fact, it could have been a better one if Peter Jackson doesn't choose to be so self indulgent and concludes this second chapter already. Now that begs me an all-important question: How far can he stretch for THE HOBBIT: THERE AND BACK AGAIN next year?

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