Review: The second chapter of a thrilling trilogy

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Warner Bros. Pictures

"The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug" is set in the fantastical world of Middle Earth, where elves, dwarves, dragons and magic are not only common but also integral to the film’s overall plot line.

When director Peter Jackson, who is known for “The Lovely Bones,” the 2005 remake of “King Kong,” and the famed “Lord of the Rings” films, decided to split J.R.R. Tolkien’s prequel “The Hobbit” into three long movies, many were skeptical of how successful the franchise would be. However, Jackson proved that these skeptics were wrong. “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey” was an enticing movie, and its sequel, “The Desolation of Smaug” is no different.

“The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug” is set in the fantastical world of Middle Earth, where elves, dwarves, dragons and magic are not only common but also integral to the film’s overall plot line. Bilbo Baggins, played by Martin Freeman, becomes an unexpected hero when he joins a company of dwarves on an adventurous and dangerous journey. This group is led by Thorin Oakenshield (Richard Armitage), and their quest is to defeat the dragon Smaug and take back the lost Dwarven kingdom, all while avoiding bloodthirsty monsters trying to kill them.

The filming style is simply spectacular. Viewers are awed by panoramic shots of beautiful Middle Earth, close-ups of gigantic grotesque spiders, and a simply breathtaking Smaug. Every carefully-crafted piece of computer generation is unique and amazingly detailed. It was also filmed with a new technique that makes it extremely high definition. Just seeing it in normal 2D was amazing, so I can only imagine how thrilling 3D or high definition would be.

In addition to how it is filmed, the acting and voice work are also satisfactory. Martin Freeman, also known for his role of John Watson on the BBC drama “Sherlock” and “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy,” stars as Bilbo Baggins. This role is a perfect fit for the actor, as he plays the part easily and admirably. Ian McKellen has played the role of Gandalf five times now, and each time he seems to get more comfortable with his role and portray it more and more perfectly. The iconic voice of Smaug, however, is what I remember most about this movie. Currently well known for his starring role “Sherlock,” Benedict Cumberbatch’s deep and powerful voice is unique and perfect for the role of a fierce-yet-sophisticated dragon.

I feel I should mention that hardcore book fans will most likely be disappointed with this film, as its plot line regularly strays from the book and sometimes disregards it all together. Examples of this are shown in additions of major characters and events that never appeared in the book but are extremely influential in the film’s overall storyline. That being said, this is not by any means a bad movie. Although the plot line strays from the novel, the story is still fast-paced, exciting, and interesting.

The one complaint I would have about this movie is that it is too long. I feel like they could have cut out at least a half hour of battles against the Orcs and it would not have affected that much. Though the movie was good in general, some parts just seemed unnecessary. Splitting a somewhat short book like “The Hobbit” into three three-hour long movies just doesn’t make sense to me.

There is also a fair amount of violence in this movie, so I would not recommend taking little kids to it. However, overall, “The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug” is a good movie. While it is a bit lengthy, Peter Jackson has succeeded in making another very entertaining film.

Our Grade: B

“The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug”

Rating: PG-13

Length: 161 minutes

Genre: Adventure, Fantasy

Director: Peter Jackson

Starring: Martin Freeman, Ian McKellen, Richard Armitage, Benedict Cumberbatch