Date Posted: 2013-12-27
Tolkien Fan Level: 6
Film Format Seen? 3D 48 fps
Will view again in a different format? Yes
An improvement in consistency over the wobbly first installment, it is freed from repetition by introducing new realms of Middle-Earth into the world of cinema.Action scenes especially feel very imaginative and inspiring, from tense and chiling spiders flavoured with a very powerful dramatic moment, through multilayered and insanely acrobatic barrel ride until the grand finale in Erebor where we get quite an ingenious ruse engineered by the dwarves to "solve the Smaug riddle".PJ even provides a classic mano-a-mano involving a certain elf prince.And yet another confrontation takes place which is possibly one of the most visually captivating in cinema(too spoilerific to reveal). All these sequences are deftly executed and quite exciting.
The film feels slightly rushed and struggles for air for the first half however,which is the exact opposite of the first film.It seems the director was a little too keen on addressing the main criticism of AUJ.The character moments,especially involving Thorin sparring verbally with his detractors,are much appreciated,yet few and tend to disappear slightly in the overall spectacle. It is never easy adapting the middle chapter,which is why I feel the pace has been severely tweaked from deliberate to frantic with its culmination involving just one cliffhanger too many. As for additions to the text of the book, the verdict can't be unequivocal. The whole Laketown plot,including Bard,the Master and city itself, is much better fleshed out in the film with its culture and general feel not resembling anything we have seen so far in the Middle Earth films.Some of the elven stuff however is less fluidly woven into the fabric of the movie, with Legolas being unnecessarily involved in some puzzling love triangle,which is harmless and works even charmingly when it only involves a couple.Sadly, last scenes of this subplot strike the melodramatic tones and the symphony is none the richer for it.It has to be said with all conviction that Orlando Bloom's character is heavily upstaged by his female counterpart Tauriel ,not just because Legolas is written blandly and comes off as one note, but the "Lost" alumni Evangeline Lilly really proves her still unrefined,but wholly convincing acting chops. Most of the embellishments are a joy to watch but the thought can't escape me , that it's for the cost of certain diminishment of the "dwarves and a hobbit" story, which has always been for me the heart of this adventure.Though,it does help the world feel more dynamic and the stakes higher by giving a huge part to yet another race,undoubtedly. As with AUJ , Jackson pulls off the most iconic scene of this part of the book to perfection as the dragon is stupendously magnificent and a complete unhinged psychopath that is absolutely engrossing to watch and especially listen to on the big screen. It has to be said that multi-faceted trait of Pride ( a prevalent theme in Tolkien's original works) is envisaged deliciously by the characters of Smaug the Stupendous, Thorin Oakenshield and Thranduil.The actors steal every frame of their presence on screen,to somewhat offset a rushy tempo of the film. It would be a truism to say that Martin Freeman's Bilbo has established himself as consistently impeccable. This is ,mind you, the least faithful of all renditions,by a long shot.Huge liberties have been taken. Purists will rage and understandably so. For all others , this film has to be described as extremely entertaining and would serve as a perfect summer cinema. It works just fine as a Christmas present, just don't expect the contents to fully compliment its wrapping. Lord of the Rings ,it is not.
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