Friday, January 03, 2014

Review - The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug (2013)


Starring Richard Armitage, Martin Freeman and Ian McKellen.
Directed by Peter Jackson.

Synopsis: The Dwarves, Bilbo and Gandalf have successfully escaped the Misty Mountains, and Bilbo has gained the One Ring. They all continue their journey to get their gold back from the Dragon, Smaug.

The Desolation of Smaug is the second installment of the unexpected Hobbit trilogy. The film follows Bilbo (Martin Freeman), Gandalf (Ian McKellen) and the band of Dwarves on the second phase of their quest, as they tackle Mirkwood, Lake Town and the Lonely Mountain. I heavily defended the first film as I thought it was a fun welcome back to Middle Earth and the characters introduced had the fit right. However I wasn't too pleased with its followup and I was left rather disappointed.

The Positives?

Well, the pacing is better in this film (for most of the film anyways). It flows more swiftly accompanied by action sequences, so even if you're not a fan of the previous films you should find yourself a bit more engaged. I think director Peter Jackson did a smart thing by linking the antagonist Azog (Manu Bennett) to the Necromancer -- it proved much better for the narrative. Peter Jackson likes to empower his female characters so I wasn't surprised of Tauriel's addition to this movie. Evangeline Lilly makes a cool Tauriel and she definitely has that elvish demeanour to her. The action sequences are the highlight of The Desolation of Smaug. There were moments that I found quite thrilling -- the barrel sequence and Gandalf confronting the Necromancer comes to mind. Legolas (Orlando Bloom) proves to be a worthy addition to this franchise by reminding us of the bad-ass elf he is while fighting. Lastly, I thought our fire-breathing beast Smaug looked stupendous; his form and voicing by Benedict Cumberbatch was quite impressive.

The Negatives?

The Desolation of Smaug overall just didn't feel like Middle Earth -- not even the musical score did much justice this time around. The film is so drenched in CGI, to a point where I felt it was a bit too much. I'm not saying that the CGI is entirely bad but I got the impression that Jackson was trying to turn this into an action spectacle when he really does not need to. Sadly Bilbo does not have alot of dialogue in this. The residents of Lake Town were damn annoying and the character Beorn (Mikael Persbrandt) was hardly established. I don't mind if Peter Jackson diverts from the source material, but this time around he made some questionable diversions that were completely irrelevant to the story. As in, I wasn't too impressed of how Legolas and Tauriel were used (when they weren't fighting, that is). They are featured in this out-of-place love triangle with one of our dwarves Kili (Aidin Turner), who surprisingly gets a lot of character time in this movie - more than Bilbo. The dialogue is so cheesy at times and much to my dismay, there is no true climax. I thought Smaug's demise would be the climax but instead the end of the film was just this really drawn out cat and mouse chase. Peter Jackson deliberately stretched out the final scene so he can go ahead and cram it into the next movie. Oh boy.

Rating: 6/10

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