'The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug' Review By Julian Roman

The Desolation of Smaug entertains, but the runtime continues to be too long.
  • OVERALL
    3.5
    GREAT
  • Story
  • Acting
  • Directing
  • Visuals
We return to Middle Earth with the second installment of The Hobbitt trilogy from Peter Jackson. The Desolation of Smaug entertains with crisp visual effects and a more intricate storyline. The runtime continues to be too long at an ass-numbing two hours and forty-one minutes. I can't fathom why Jackson can't just cut thirty minutes of characters walking around for a leaner film, but I guess they still want to justify splitting one book into three movies. Audiences and critics have given this film much higher praise than the first, An Unexpected Journey. I actually liked that film a lot and put them both on an even keel.

The story opens with the dwarves, Bilbo (Martin Freeman), and Gandalf (Ian McKellan), close to their final destination of Mount Erebor. Their goal, for anyone who missed the first part, is to retake the treasure laden dwarf kingdom from the evil dragon Smaug (Benedict C*mberbatch). Complications arise and Gandalf is forced to leave the group to confront a new threat. An evil force, known initially as The Necromancer, gains strength and is gathering an army of ruthless orcs. Leaving Bilbo and the dwarves to cross the Mirkwood Forest controlled by elves. There they run into a familiar face from The Lord of the Rings trilogy, the elf bad-ass, Legolas (Orlando Bloom); who is the son of the Elf King. The group escapes the elf stronghold, but not without leaving an impression. Tauriel (Evangeline Lilly), the captain of the elf guard, becomes smitten with the pretty-boy dwarf, Kili (Aiden Turner). The group makes it to Lake Town, where they encounter Bard (Luke Evans), a wary bargeman who fears they will unleash hell when they finally face the dragon.

The Desolation of Smaug has some of the best and most unique action scenes we've seen in these films. There are quite a few different environments the protagonists battle through. The climax inside Mount Erebor when they fight Smaug is worth the price of admission by itself. I saw the film in the Dolby Atmos 3D. It looked and sounded incredible. It's also available in the HFR (high frame rate) format, but honestly, the last film put a lot of stress on my eyes. You cannot go wrong with the Atmos 3D. Those theaters maybe hard to find, but if little things like hearing Smaug's breath behind you, or the swoosh of his wings above your head peak your interest; then its worth the effort.

At this stage of the game, audiences are pretty familiar with the characters. Seeing Legolas dispatch orcs with deft aplomb should bring a smile to the diehard fans. Evangeline Lilly and Aiden Turner are effective in their cross species romance. I chuckled a bit through those scenes, but it did catch me by surprise. I wish a little more time had been spent on the romance and a little less trudging around in the woods, but once again, this useless filler seems to be something we have to put up with in these movies. I sincerely hope one day Jackson realizes the folly of this and gives us a slimmer edit. Less is more here, a lot more.

The Desolation of Smaug will be an audience pleaser. It's pretty much a guaranteed blockbuster regardless of any criticism. I guess the best praise is to say it doesn't take any steps back. It looks and sounds great with a high entertainment value. I did have to race to the bathroom during the climax, but I foolishly drank a large Cherry Coke in the first five minutes like an idiot. Don't make that mistake as you're in for the long haul here. People who aren't into medieval fantasy or CGI battles with fire breathing dragons should avoid this like the plague.

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Comments (9)

  1. T. King (Red Camera Man)

    @julianroman: I thought this movie was absolutely great, and I didn't mind the runtime. In fact, I wasn't expecting it to END already. This film has one of THE best cliffhanger endings in cinematic history, and it absolutely left me STOKED for the third and final movie already; I also liked it better than the first (which I still love as well). However, I still need to try out the Dolby Atmos version, but there are NO theaters showing that in my area.

    And "The Wolf Of Wall Street" is actually good? It didn't look anything great or special to me from the previews. I expected much more from Martin Scorsese.

    12 months agoby @redcameramanFlag

  2. undeadslayer4

    @julianroman actually it really good copied the same pattern from LOTR and the hunger games they make the first movie for the fans get into liking it making successful and then making the last two movies even better than the first

    1 year agoby @undeadslayer4Flag

  3. Julian Roman

    @undeadslayer4

    Actually skipped the imax for this one. Went for the atmos 3d and definitely awesome. Hope all is well.

    1 year agoby @julianromanFlag

  4. Julian Roman

    @redcameraman

    How goes it dude? Smaug is definitely worth seeing. Try for the dolby atmos 3d theater if you can find it. I guarantee you won't regret it. I just saw wolf of wall street and it far exceeded my expectations.

    1 year agoby @julianromanFlag

  5. undeadslayer4

    @julianroman awesome review let me guess did u watch it imax 3D

    1 year agoby @undeadslayer4Flag

  6. T. King (Red Camera Man)

    @julianroman: I'm seeing this movie tomorrow. I'm still excited, but ALSO a little scared at the same time. Some say this is better than the 1st, and some were very disappointed with it (even those who really liked the 1st "Hobbit" movie). Your review convinced me to lower my expectations then. Great job, man. I'm now a little scared not only because of how it might turn out, but because there were some other films I've watched that left me underwhelmed, pissed off, and not living up to my expectations.

    1 year agoby @redcameramanFlag

  7. Julian Roman

    @skywise, how goes it dude? I have no doubt you'll love this and American Hustle. I finally saw The Wolf of Wall Street and its pretty damn good. Not a huge fan of Dicaprio, but this is his best film. Will probably review Hustle and WOWS later this week. Party on.

    1 year agoby @julianromanFlag

  8. skywise

    Awesome review. I am hoping to see this sometimes this weekend along with American Hustle. I thought the first one was pretty great despite the lukewarm reception it received. However, Bard the Bowmen is one of my favorite characters from this or any of the other Tolkien novels. Cant wait to check it out!

    1 year agoby @skywiseFlag

  9. Bawnian©-Dexeus

    Great review. Seeing this bright and early. Seeing it in IMAX to get the best out of Smaug when he appears. Will also be my first time seeing it in HFR (if they have it).

    1 year agoby @bawnian-dexeusFlag