The Hobbit: Desolation of Smaug Review

Ah, The Hobbit–the fantastic prequel to Lord of the Rings published by J.R.R Tolkien way back in 1937. A wonderful story of action adventure. Dwarves off to a mountain to kill a dragon. Hobbits, Elves, Dragons and Dwarves galore!

Wait, no. We’re talking about director Peter Jackson’s movie-trilogy adaptation, here, aren’t we?

Well, that’s a different story.

The Hobbit is a three hundred and ten page book. It doesn’t have to be adapted into three movies. It could have been done quite well in one movie, possibly two.

Unfortunately, people involved in production wanted more money.

Yes, The Hobbit has been split into three movies, and as a result, it has been packed to the brim with sub plots that were never in the book, long, drawn out scenes to fill that gap that I call, “The Peter Jackson- length movie,” and more. Some fans cry foul, that such a wonderful book is being (dare I say it?) desolated in favor of packing unnecessary plot points into the story.

But you know what? It works. Peter Jackson has the entirety of Middle Earth at his disposal. Why stop with one movie that’s just the book when you have an entire world you can dig into?

Now, the second movie, The Hobbit: Desolation of Smaug (pronounced smowg), picks up where the previous movie left off.

As the story went on things began to tie into the book when the spiders entered. The following scene, however, where the movie takes a very different turn from the book.

This is when the elves enter.

Orlando Bloom reprises his role as Legolas, and is given a great backstory. It follows the book while still giving viewers something fresh and original enough to keep them guessing. I love the fact that it is explained where Gandalf continually wanders off to, and there are several nods to the original trilogy.

The performances are amazing. Martin Freeman has an especially well done scene involving a spider and the One Ring.

Evangeline Lily plays the elf Tauriel, who, in Tolkien’s posthumously published book, the Silmarillion, was a man. This displeased many fanboys, however I can’t complained. If it wasn’t for her, the cast would have been 100% male, which is not a good thing. In fact, there have been several arguments online as to why that’s a bad thing. The long and the short of it is that women need representation (But that’s a different article).

The best in the cast, however, had to be Benedict Cumberbatch, who voiced and did the motion capture for the dragon, Smaug. I went in there expecting to hear the dragon and think, “Oh, that’s Benedict Cumberbatch playing Smaug.”


What I saw on the screen was not Benedict Cumberbatch playing Smaug; I heard that and my first thought was how the studio managed to hire an actual dragon to play, well, the dragon.

Benedict plays a convincing role as a dragon. His voice is intimidating and the way he moves (translated through motion capture) builds the tension. The cinematography whenever Smaug is on screen is brilliant. The camera snakes around the set, mirroring the slithering movements of the dragon. It’s almost as if we’re watching it from the dragon’s perspective. It builds the tension as Bilbo frantically tries to hide.

Overall, there are a few minor disputes with the movie. Packing in unnecessary details, overdone chase scenes where everyone knows they’ll make it out alive. Even if someone hasn’t read the book, the chase scenes alone are so death defying if shatters everyone’s thoughts that someone might lose a life. Even for Middle Earth physics, some of their stunts are questionable, at best.

Despite this, it is a highly enjoyable movie for fans of the Lord of the Rings trilogy and the casual viewer. It’s worth a look, and it’s definitely time well spent.