The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug continues the deliberately-expanded-mini adventure about a group of Dwarf warriors joined by a Hobbit (with no-thief skill actually) and a grey wise wizard, all in a quest to find the gem to rule and to reclaim the homeland that is currently occupied by a vicious dragon. As a refresh, the first movie carries a less enthusiastic feel as many were critical (and disappointed) of the slow pacing, the tedious set-up, the lack of exciting actions and unattractive high frame rate (HFR) 3D. But the second picture proves to be way better than its predecessor as it serves as a right step in building the momentum as we head for the last chapter next year.
Peter Jackson's fifth trip to the Middle Earth is nevertheless still not as visually epic as the ever-famous installments in the Lord of the Rings trilogy, which is understandably so since the scope and nature of adventure are relatively different. The Lord of the Rings focus on loyalty, friendship and heroism – and that makes it one of the most successful trilogies ever. But this prequel works more like a mercenary tale.
There are moments when the majestic Middle Earth at the background seems too-altered and the story is still struggling to offer a pleasant exposition in a largely overlong adventure but for the action and fantasy fans, this is a trip worthy to look for after all. The Desolation of Smaug (DOS) manages to balance out some of those shortcomings by offering impressive visual effects, memorable and well-choreographed fighting sequences, as well as been an earnest and thrilling adventure.
The barrel-riding on white rapid scene is perhaps, the most memorable scene that captures the light humour and reminds us about the fun side on working with special effects. The 3D is largely impressive to go along with the effects, while the HFR issue is pretty much rectified and handled well.
By virtually “sacrificing” the first movie with tedious and uneventful set-up to the whole purpose of this particularly journey, DOS looks no backward and behaves in the right mind by squashing the subplots to lay a solid groundwork for plot build-up. Unlike the first movie, DOS gets the pacing quite right and the storyline is much more cohesive than ever. Unfortunately, the movie still clocks a lengthy 161 minutes.
The acting is generally exceptional. The introduction of non-Tolkien character like Tauriel (Evangeline Lilly) is warmly appreciated as her character gives life and soul to the movie. In addition to the existing lineup of characters from the first movie, the addition Smaug (Benedict Cumberbatch) is certainly the main highlight. Thanks to Cumberbatch superb voice-over (even when it was altered too much), Smaug has basically steal the show with show-stopping performance and his banter session with Bilbo (Martin Freeman) reminiscences the one the latter had with Gollum last year.
In the end, “The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug” is a much waited return to form for director Peter Jackson and cements the notion that he is still the right person to create the world of Middle Earth story. DOS marks major improvement over its predecessor by bringing in an eventful movie with more cohesive subplots, more composure and strength in the narration, story and performances to provide an exciting and thrilling ride-in-the park journey.