Today: May 28, 2024

The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug

As with the second of many trilogies, especially depicting a story already told, The Desolation of Smaug exists to pave the way to what will be an undoubtedly epic final chapter.

Now comfortably in the company of 13 dwarves and a persuasive piece of jewellery, Bilbo Baggins is on his way to Erebor to win back the home of his friends.  Gandalf the Grey is in tow briefly before heading off to see a wizard about a war lord, leaving his sub waist companions to trek unaccompanied to their ruined home.

Already on the bad side of the orcs and with their burly leader Azog on their backs, the party also manages to upset the Wood Elves, chiefly Legolas’s ageless father Thranduil which leads to the dwarves imprisonment. And then of course there’s the dragon inhabiting their home in the Lonely Mountain, waiting their arrival with fiery breath.

With a countless number of enemies you would think the dwarves would be used to sticking together, especially with such strong messages of loyalty in the LOTR trilogy.

In the hobbit trilogy thus far however the “no man left behind” mentality is promptly shunned, along with anyone deemed a disadvantage to the mission. It’s a sensible but unfavourable trait and leaves compassion for characters a little short. It’s a hero that is needed and he’s not to be found in Thorin, and with Bilbo only a bit narrative in this chapter it’s hard to place your favour on any of our band.

It of course looks incredible. One of the film’s highlights are its high action sequences, which are mostly fleshed out by Evangeline Lilly’s elf Tauriel and a bow wielding Legolas on full smouldering form. A glorious segment involving an escape in barrels also makes for stunning entertainment.

There is an undeniable charm about some of the Hobbit’s characters. Bilbo’s pantomime type manoeuvres are likeable as well as his ability to pause chaos, evident in the dramatic, if overdrawn confrontation between Freeman’s Halfling and Cumberbatch’s lavish dragon Smaug.

As an adaptation Jackson meanders towards and away from Tolkien’s material, which at times burdens viewers with yet another lengthy running time. There are too many hero shots and moments of poignancy, clouding what could be a simple and more affable ensemble story. Instead characters border on irritating; Bilbo’s multiple achievements in saving the dwarves fall blindly on Thorin who maintains a brutal attitude of dismissal, and begs to question why others unquestionably obey his sometimes selfish leadership.

That said there is a lot of fun to be found in The Desolation of Smaug. The visual effects are breathtakingly clear and for those who haven’t read the book will still be interested in the fate of both the original and newly added characters. There may still be hope for a hero in our hobbit and with it a promising final chapter in a much loved story.

Beth Webb - Events Editor

I aim to bring you a round up of the best film events in the UK, no matter where you are or what your preference. For live coverage of events across London, follow @FilmJuice

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