Last year, we set off on a new adventure in Middle Earth with The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey. After 12 years and many issues in production, Peter Jackson finally decided to bring the story of Bilbo Baggins to the silver screen. Originally, The Hobbit was going to be two films, but right before Unexpected Journey was released , Jackson and the studio announce that this prequel series would become a trilogy. Thus The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug was forged . For months this film has teased many things, such as elves and an enormous dragon. Yet, the bigger thing to wonder is how was this sudden sequel going to play out? That was indeed the question.
Following immediately after An Unexpected Journey, The Desolation of Smaug continues the story of Bilbo Baggins as he accompanies Thorin Oakenshield and his band of dwarves to The Lonely Mountain. As the mountains stands on the horizon, the group discovers that getting there will be easier said then done; with the likes of Spiders, Wood Elves and Orcs. Despite getting through those obstacles, Bilbo and company face their greatest challenge yet as they came face to face with the dragon Smaug.
Unexpected Journey was all about set up and The Desolation of Smaug was about getting into the thick of things. The first act move rather quickly, but thing surprising slow down by the end of the film. What I found so fascinating about the story was the context. Peter Jackson found a way to bring to a relevance to Erebor and why the company of Thorin Oakenshield's mission is so vital. This direction gave both the story relevance to its successor/predecessor as well as raising the stakes in the film's plot.
While I liked the performances in the first film, some would only see a chosen few from the new cast worth mentioning. This time around though is a different story as several the supporting dwarves had enough screentime to established their traits and back stories. Once again, Ian McKellen, Martin Freeman and Richard Armitage prove themselves to be worthy leads. Strangely though, Bilbo and Thorin's development were very much similar. Both characters meant well, but outside forces begin to take hold of them; and both Freeman and Armitage had the performances to back up their respected roles. Also, which comes to no shock, Ian Mckellen graces the screen yet again as Gandalf the Grey.
While a Hobbit, a Wizard and 13 dwarves is enough to be ensemble, it just wouldn't be a movie on Middle Earth if new characters were not introduce. Leading the new cast members is an old face: Legolas (reprised by Orlando Bloom). Legolas is certainly a different elf in this film which only helped the overall character. Along with Legolas was his father Thranduil (played by Lee Pace). While there wasn't much of the Elven King, Pace still had a terrific performance. Another surprise was Evangeline Lilly as Tauriel. As an original character, Tauriel not only brought something new, but her character seems vital in overall franchise. So many characters stood out in this film; from the returning Radagas the Brown to Luke Evans Bard the Bowman. Yet perhaps no one steals the show the more then Benedict Cumberbatch as Smaug. Words cannot describe how effective Cumberbatch's performance or the character of Smaug was. It can only be seen.
Peter Jackson has been known for his attention to detail, and it shows yet again in The Desolation of Smaug. I could on and say that details like the cinematography and the design were fantastic, but all of that is to be expected. However there is something else to be commended and that would be overall tension. Through the likes of the aciton and just the scope of the film, The Desolation of Smaug had an intensity that could rival The Lord of the Rings Trilogy.
The great moments of this film are too much to count. While I might be cheating on this, I would say that the defining moment of the film is the entire third act. From Bilbo's confrontation with Smaug to the trouble in Lake Town, my heart was pounding all the way to the end of the film. It was certainly nostalgic to the likes of The Return of The King.
If you were naysayer about An Unexpected Journey, then The Desolation of Smaug will surely win you over. The film not only continues the adventure but expands upon it; turning this quest into an epic. Everything about this film, from its solid plot to its wonderful characters, will not have on the edge of your seat; but it will have you hitting the theater's floor from the excitement. The Desolation of Smaug rounds out the adventure of The Hobbit and is certainly Peter Jackson's boldest film to date. Needless to say: There and Back Again can't come any sooner.