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Ringer Reviews - The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug

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Ringer Review - NAME

Zachary R

19, Lebanon
United States

Date Posted: 2013-12-23
Tolkien Fan Level: 6
Film Format Seen? 3D 48 fps
Will view again in a different format? Yes

Last year, audiences around the world were lucky enough to have a chance to return to the glorious lands of J.R.R. Tolkien’s Middle Earth. However, to many fans of Tolkien’s writings, this Middle Earth seemed a bit different from the one they were familiar with. Director Peter Jackson (of ‘The Lord of the Rings’, and ‘King Kong’ films) decided to return to helm ‘The Hobbit’ films, and fans of the original trilogy were very pleased with this. However, there were those that were very skeptical at Jackson’s decision to split the book into three separate films; and after the mixed reactions to ‘An Unexpected Journey’ fans began to grow very worried about the second and third parts still to be released.

Now that we have been introduced to the second installment of the trilogy, ‘The Desolation of Smaug’, how does it compare to the first? The answer, gloriously. In ‘Desolation’, Peter Jackson has a lot of things to play with including; the forest of Mirkwood, giant man eating spiders, wood elves, a city on a lake, and of course the dwarf kingdom of Erebor. The issue of pacing has gone far, far away in this Middle Earth sequel, reducing the running time of the first by 10 or so minutes removes a lot of meandering from the plot and focuses more on the forward momentum. These action sequences in ‘Desolation’ are not only the best in the ‘Lord of the Rings’ trilogy, but some of the best in any action film in recent memory. The famous, ‘Barrels out of Bond’, scene is just as you pictured it would be and then some. These fights and scrapes were handled by the second unit director, Andy Serkis, who also is famous for doing the voice and motion capture for Gollum in the original trilogy. Compared to the action in the first film, these scenes fly of the screen with an almost magical sense of realism and fantasy mixed together (I am indescribably stoked to see how he handles the final battles in ‘There and Back Again’).

Without giving too much away, ‘The Desolation of Smaug’, features a popular Peter Jackson film technique of splitting up the main characters. Almost halfway through the movie some of our heroes are in one place and some are in another, and the movie jumps back and forth to keep the pacing interesting and momentous. I suggest to all audiences that you are familiar with the ‘Rings’ films or books, as a lot of the content in ‘the Hobbit’ sequel draws heavily from their general plot. It won’t ruin the film if you aren’t up to date, but trust me, it will be a lot more emotionally compelling if you are in the know.

As for the cast of characters, well let’s just say that Jackson knows how to choose his roles with utter precision. Martin Freeman (Sherlock, The World’s End) reprises his role as reluctant yet adventurous hobbit Bilbo Baggins, and his portrayal of the classic character continues in the sequel. Freeman’s Bilbo has seen some pretty nasty things at this point in the story, and it shows more and more as the company moves closer and closer to the lonely mountain. Lost king under the mountain, Thorin Oakenshield (played by Richard Armitage), seems to be growing more and more reckless as the quest for his homeland turns into something a bit more than a dragon hunt. Speaking of dragons, we finally get to see Jackson’s vision of Smaug the tyrannical and it is a sight to behold! Smaug is a wonder of digital effects, and WETA should pat themselves on the back for creating the best dragon ever seen in a major film. Rivaled only by Gollum, the detail put into every scale of the beast is mesmerizing and is the number one reason to see the movie in Jackson’s 48-frames-per-second, 3D version of the film. Also to be noted, the voice and motion capture of Smaug is done by the wonderfully talented Benedict Cumberbatch (Sherlock, Star Trek Into Darkness). Smaug’s booming voice and roaring fire breath is monstrous over the theater sound system, and I promise you that it wont be nearly as grand watching it on your home t.v. If ever there was a movie that you need to see in theaters it is ‘The Desolation of Smaug’.

The Hobbit The Desolation of Smaug is not only a new installment in the Middle-earth films, but a breath of fresh air for the fantasy movie genre. Peter Jackson knows how to build a grand world, and although fans of Tolkien’s literature may be disgruntled with a good number of Jackson’s liberties in the universe, there is no doubt that the man is a master of his art. There is something here for all movie goers, and even more for those who are fans of Middle Earth.


Pros: Great visuals by WETA, Spot on cast of characters, More direct and fluid pacing, SMAUG.

Cons: Less humor, a few rushed opening scenes and underdeveloped side characters, No more dwarf songs.

The Ratings
The Other Ratings
Martin Freeman 's performance as Bilbo Baggins?
How would you rate Luke Evan's performance as Bard??
The Overall representation of The Dwarves ?
How would you rate Benedict Cumberbatch's' performance as Smaug?
Ian McKellen's performance as Gandalf?
How would you rate Lee Pace's performance as Thranduil?
How would you rate Orlando Bloom's performance as Legolas?
How would you rate Evangeline Lilly's performance as Tauriel?
How would you rate Stephen Fry's performance as Master of Lake-Town?
Did you think Tauriel was a welcome addition to the film?
How would you rate Beorn?
How would you rate the scene with the Spiders?
How would you rate the imprisonment/escape sequence?
Did you like the Necromancer being discovered by Gandalf as Sauron?
Did the movie fairly portray the character arc of Thorrin?
How would you rate Lake-Town?
How would you rate the burglar interchange between Bilbo and Smaug?
How would you rate revisiting Bree?
How happy are you with the attempts to tie The Hobbit back to the Lord of the Rings?
Did you enjoy seeing Gandalf visit Gol Duldor and The Tombs?
Did you like the splitting of the company of Dwarves?
Did Smaug live up to your expectations?
How would you rate the ending of the movie; in regards to leading well into the next film, and serving as a good ending point.
Is DOS a better film than AUJ?
The overall pace of the film.

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