Desolation of Smaug: The Journey of the Hobbit
Way back when they told Peter Jackson he could NEVER make three films at once, it was daring to prove them wrong. Jackson went boldly forward where no director had quite gone before and made The Lord of the Rings. The three films felt more like six, but fans were happy and the studio got a chance to make extra money with more than one release thanks to the extended editions.
When all was said and done people started to whisper, “What about The Hobbit?” It was just assumed that it would be one of Jackson’s multi-film efforts. What had once been considered impossible was now expected. However, much to everyone’s surprise, Jackson was not interested. He felt he had done all he wanted with the subject matter, and had already spent close to a decade working on the first series of movies. After director Guillermo Del Toro (Pan’s Labyrinth, Hellboy) had to bow out due to delays resulting from MGM’s turbulent money issues, Jackson was wooed back to the project and the two-film spectacle was expanded to three films.
When The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey hit theaters in 2012, people were treated to a whimsical Hobbit. The playful scenes with the dwarfs, and the folk songs sung of legends and battles past, lightly evoked the animated Rankin and Bass version from 1977.
In 2013, part two, The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, was released. Gone were the songs of lore. The world was suddenly much more grown up. Darker things than the humorous goblin king were afoot. Aidan Turner as Kili, the first intentionally attractive dwarf on film, was pushed to a slightly more major role thanks to the audience heartthrob-meter scoring high in the first film. In this second installment, he even got a hinted love interest with a refreshing new character, Tauriel of the Elves, played by Evangeline Lilly. And classic Doctor Who Fans rejoiced at the return of Radagast the Brown played by seventh Doctor, Sylvester McCoy.
This second part of the story takes a much more focused approach than the first. We are on a fast-paced adventure towards the Arkenstone, the lost Elven kingdom and the dragon Smaug himself (delightfully voiced by Benedict Cumberbatch). The length of the movie is not felt with the well-paced action. Never before have giant spiders been more terrifying. Even on your home theater, you will be tempted to look away when they finally show themselves!
We are now halfway through the trilogy and I, for one, am very satisfied. Being a fan of the novel, I even enjoyed the slight changes and added story. Nothing felt out of place, even the inclusion of Legolas’s background is very well done and fits in the canon. When the movie ends, you are satisfied and wanting more. Jackson has done his job well. I look forward to what awaits us in the third and final chapter!