The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug: A Mixed Bag


Hobbit, oh Hobbit – where do I start? Continuing the adaptation of JRR Tolkien’s classic novel and follow-up to An Unexpected Journey (2012), I’m a little lost for words because this film has its highs and lows. With ticket prices so high, I want to be entertained the whole way through a movie, so having such an unbalanced ride really drags the whole thing down.


However, I will start with all the things I loved about this film, and don’t get me wrong there is plenty worth talking about.


Distracting elements


To begin, Orlando Bloom and his white lace front wig with a side braid. Reprising his role as Legolas from The Lord of the Rings, he was very cool, calm and collected, yet strong with an air of intrigue. Every time Legolas and Tauriel (Evangeline Lily) hit the screen, it was a welcome sight, he didn’t say much but looking like that he didn’t need to.


While at times the movie dragged, it was the fight scenes that kept you from nodding off and left you glued to the screen. Tauriel and Legolas had some excellent action sequences fighting alongside the butt-kicking dwarves against the orc hordes of Azog (Manu Bennett).


Another positive is that there is something special about the oh-so wise and fearless Gandalf, played by Ian McKellen. I don’t know what it is about him and all the characters he plays but every time he appeared I felt like I had to pay attention and stop scrolling through Instagram. He has the effect that every time he appears on screen you feel there is a puzzle that needed piecing together about how the past connects the present and how it will affect the future.


Coming alive


The costume and make up design for the orcs, dwarves and everyone in-between was excellent. We all know how visual today’s generation is and we don’t just want to imagine evil monstrous frighteningly gross beings, we want to see them in spectacular detail right there on the big screen.


Desolation seemed to easily move between humour, mainly centred around Bilbo and the dwarves, and then to serious dark moments which held your attention throughout. This seamless transition helped mesh the whimsical tone of Tolkien’s original novel and Peter Jackson’s vision of an epic fantasy world immersed in a battle of good against evil like he did in The Lord of the Rings.



In terms of the ending, we all love all a good cliff-hanger, but I feel this movie could have wrapped up in a much more satisfying way. Of course there is much to come. When I think about Bilbo Baggins, he has not quite grown into his role and he has not fulfilled his purpose—just signs and hints of his potential, very few actual displays of why the hero we know him to be.



The decline


My main pet peeve with this movie was the dragon Smaug, played by Benedict Cumberbatch. I loved his voice and the feeling of fright in the initial encounter with this huge creature. Smaug’s entrance into the movie was filled with suspense and anticipation as you were greeted with just a blink of the dragon’s eye lid as it stirs under heaped mountain of gold.


At this point I thought it was about to go down, but instead of capitalizing on this suspense, Smaug launches into a very long winded monologue. At this point I’m back on Instagram, and when I look up the dragons are still in conversation, so I hit up Facebook and after that I look up and he is still talking the Hobbit’s poor ears off.


For me, this is where the film lost all its momentum. When he finally starts acting like a dragon and not a talk show host, the movie has already gone on so long I just want it to be over.


Luckily an action-packed fight scene involving pretty boy Legolas, Tauriel, and the Orcs slightly lifts the movie out of this downward spiral. When it seems like they are about to wrap this part of the story up, here comes the forced cliff hanger.


The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, while having some great and exciting moments, is essentially a very mixed bag. Despite managing to balance its tone better than An Unexpected Journey, the movie still feels lopsided and often very jarring. It is certainly exciting at times, but does not live up to the hype.


Have your say on the film in the comments section below.