A year has past since The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, and Bilbo and his pack of Dwarf friends continue their quest to reclaim the throne of the King Under The Mountain. Peter Jackson once again helms this Hobbit tale, and if you liked the first movie then you will like this film more, but if you did not care for the first Hobbit, I am not sure that this improved film will win you over.
This movie starts out with a little background in to how the quest got started, but then quickly gets us back to Bilbo (Martin Freeman), Thorin (Richard Armitage), and the rest of the dwarves as they continue to run from the orcs that are chasing them, and their quest to get to the Lonely Mountain by the last light of Durin’s Day. Along the way they will have to contend with giant spiders, jerky elves, the aforementioned orcs, and Smaug himself. Gandalf (Ian McKellen) meanwhile has to deal with another threat.
Despite the over two hour and forty minute running time, they should really call these movies The Hobbit and The Lost Tales due to all the added material, The Desolation of Smaug has a much brisker pace. They must have cut out all the random walking about, and just stuck to the action scenes. Which is great because An Unexpected Journey gave me enough walking scenes for the rest of my life. There are quite a few long action scenes in this movie, and they all show Jackson’s deft hand at directing since they are all wonderfully framed and a joy to watch.
From a technical standpoint though the action scenes are not perfect. It must be really hard to show molten gold because it is by far the worst effect in the whole movie, and whoever convinced Jackson that it would be fine to use a GoPro 1 camera in the river barrel scene should be flogged. Other than those two examples Weta Workshop continues to show that they are a top tier effects company because this movie looks great. They just need to find a new gold animator.
When I first saw Evangeline Lilly’s Tauriel in promos for this film, I was unsure about her addition, but she great in this film, and adding a female character to this all male cast was much needed. Adding Tauriel gave more depth to the elves as well as the dwarves, so she is not just a throw away character. Martin Freeman’s Bilbo is fantastic. It is great to see a character drawn to the power of the ring, and not just suffer the weight of it. You can see the lust for its power in his eyes, and how he changes when he wears it. He is better than the Bilbo in the book (Geek Note: I am not saying however that the movies are better than the book, just Bilbo). The rest of the cast is great too, but they are pretty much background for Freeman.
This movie is much improved over The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, but it still has one major flaw. Its ending, or I should say its lack of an ending. It simply does not have one. I won’t tell you where it ends or how, but after all the fun and adventure it ends in a questionable manner. That is not enough for me not to recommend this movie however, and I do. Especially to all of the Lord of the Rings and Hobbit fans out there. It is a fun film with some great action sequences, and it is a good time in the theaters!