Bilbo Baggins, Gandalf the Grey and the 13 Dwarves continues their journey in The Desolation of Smaug. Will they ever reach the Lonely Mountain and reclaim the throne from the dragon Smaug?
Now this is what I’ve wanted for a Lord of the Rings prequel, a movie that can live up to its standards while also standing up on its own. Unlike An Unexpected Journey, this one really feels original, mostly because it adapts the most from the book, which I haven’t read yet so I can’t say much. But really, the first one shoehorns too many Lord of the Rings element to the point that it feels like a remake with different characters instead of a prequel. But this one however, is a story of its own, and it certainly live up to its predecessor.
The best thing about this movie is that they truly explored the Middle Earth instead of revisiting familiar places, which is why An Unexpected Journey is a little bit of a disappointment. Also, being a sequel, it’s certainly darker, and wastes no time to show us what we need to see.
The movie itself does have some cliche elements, but they used it very well so it’s the acceptable cliches. While The Hobbit series, and to an extent the whole Middle Earth series isn’t really about action, I gotta say the action scenes really impressed me, even though it’s a CGI fest. One such scene is the barrel scene. At first I felt like it was a roller coaster ride, but then it turned out to be a really exciting scene, and I would love to replay the scene over and over.
Let’s talk about the returning characters. First, our protagonist, Bilbo Baggins. Martin Freeman is an extremely perfect choice for this role, he really nailed it as Bilbo. Bilbo in this movie is much more mature due to the events of the previous film, and compared to the other characters, he’s like the only one who doesn’t lose hope when all else seemed lost. And I really liked his overuse of the One Ring, as it developed his eventual obsession towards the Ring. Heck, in one such scene he killed a creature mercilessly just because the Ring was located near the creature.
Gandalf is Gandalf, the AWESOME wizard. Truth to be honest I preferred the Grey over the White, mostly because Gandalf the White was pure goodness, while this one is the ‘young’ Gandalf, the one whose actions may be good or bad. Put simply Gandalf the Grey is more human while the White is more like a god.
Thorin here feels a lot like the dwarf version of Aragorn, because he is there to reclaim his throne as the king. And his company is the same as ever, and I liked how they didn’t use them as the comic relief anymore. Sure they did, but the previous movie makes it like they were just comic sidekicks while here, they are important companions. I appreciated the use of the love subplot between Kili and the elf Tauriel, whom I will talk later.
Now the supporting characters. While I don’t really like the overuse of returning Lord of the Rings characters, Legolas’ return or rather, debut is more than welcome. His appearance alone is better than the returning actors from the previous movie, and honestly he has equal or more screen time with Gandalf! And the best thing about Legolas here is that we really see him here like it’s the first time we see him, that’s the best thing about prequel, they re-introduced the characters from the original movie and make them young compared to they were about to be.
Onto the new characters. My favorite one aside from Bilbo and Legolas is Bard, and the funny thing is when we first saw him, I thought he was Legolas mixed with Will Turner because he looked a lot like Orlando Bloom with facial hair! Like Thorin, Bard is also the Aragorn or maybe Boromir of this movie, more accurately the Aragorn as a ranger. This is because he is a descendant of an important figure, althrough unlike Aragorn he is not a king, but rather a guy who’s famous for failing to kill Smaug. Yeah, we already have a descendant of a king, and now we get to see a descendant of a man who failed to do something!
Tauriel here is the original character for the movie, and she serves as the love interest to Kili. Even though love plots are tiresome, this one is necessary. Also I’m glad to see her here because she is the only major female character in the movie.
Now let’s talk about the other title character, Smaug himself. Seriously man, Benedict Cumberbatch has got to be the british version of Michael Fassbender. This is because the two are really good actors, and the did an astounding job on their performances. I was interested to see how Cumberbatch motion captured Smaug, and behind the scenes it looked hilarious but here, he’s like trained to portray a dragon. Smaug himself is really, really menacing. And honestly it’s been a long time we get to see a really AWESOME villain other than Loki. In my opinion Smaug himself is cooler than Sauron. And I really liked the portrayal of dragons in this movie. Most fantasy movies make dragons look like cliche but here they take it to the next level. Never before I’ve seen a dragon that is so hard to be beaten, and certainly deserved to be feared.
Overall, it’s a fantastic movie and truly feels like a new chapter from the Middle Earth series, unlike the previous movie. The movie itself does have its flaws, but honestly they are forgettable. Also the Middle Earth series is know for being too long, but this one it really feels like this one deserved to be long, and they didn’t waste a single second lingering on a scene. I feel like this is probably the best of The Hobbit trilogy, since I personally think There and Back Again will be like what Return of the Jedi was to The Empire Strikes Back. I would like to be proven wrong.
The Desolation of Smaug, my friends, Deserves an Award!!