Review: The Hobbit – The Desolation of Smaug / Cert: 12A / Director: Peter Jackson / Screenplay: Various / Starring: Martin Freeman, Ian McKellen, Richard Armitage, Benedict Cumberbatch / Release Date: Out Now
For a lot of people, the second of Peter Jackson’s The Lord of the Rings trilogy was a dull, repetitive entry of that particular series. With the arrival of Jackson’s second Hobbit film, some fans had concern. Fear not, though, for The Desolation of Smaug delivers quite the impressive spectacle.
Here we pick things up with the thirteen dwarves, led by Thorin Oakenshield (Armitage). Along with Gandalf (McKellen) and Bilbo Baggins (Freeman), the dwarves are on a journey to reclaim the dwarf kingdom of Erebor. As their journey takes them across lands inhabited by elves, orcs, giant spiders and much more, the target is to reach the Lonely Mountain. The thing is, that is where the Dragon Smaug resides.
After a slow, raspy first 20 minutes, plus a large role for Orlando Bloom’s Legolas (not a good thing), this film had us a little uneasy. Luckily, from here on in, the action, character development and overall journey really picks up. Newcomers like Evangeline Lilly’s Tauriel and Luke Evans’ Bard are great additions, bringing a freshness and likeability with them. Then there are the dwarves. Here we’re given aggressive, clinical dwarves on the rampage to reclaim their homeland. And, of course, we have Bilbo and his slow descent into succumbing to the charms of ‘the ring.’ If that wasn’t enough, the dastardly Smaug has the dulcet tones of one Benedict Cumberbatch.
The film itself is beautiful to watch, with the Blu-ray transfer a true joy, although there’s also a whole lot of brutal action scenes. The film is only a 12A, yet orcs and other such nasty creatures are disposed of with a clinical elegance. From the water escape, to the highest rock faces, to the battle with Smaug himself, The Desolation of Smaug looks fantastically crisp.
As we've become accustomed to, this 3D Blu-ray set is overflowing with extensive special features and bonus material. Amongst the production featurettes, on-set diaries, cast interviews, trailers, etc, a particular highlight is seeing the thirteen dwarves conducting dance numbers and workout routines that would make Olivia Newton-John proud.
Going into The Desolation of Smaug, we had some major concerns, not least Jackson’s splitting of The Hobbit into a trilogy. We were wrong. Even Bloom’s Legolas comes out of this with a likeability. Some of the movie will seem maybe a tad too familiar, but overall Jackson has delivered a movie that has you itching with anticipation for its follow-up. For that, we happily eat some humble pie.
Extras: Seven Featurettes / Music Videos / Five Trailers