The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug
Director: Peter Jackson
Writers: Peter Jackson, Fran Walsh, Philippa Boyens, Guillermo del Toro
Cast: Ian McKellen, Martin Freeman, Richard Armitage, Evangeline Lilly, Orlando Bloom, Luke Evans Warner Bros. Pictures
Rated PG-13 | 161 Minutes
Release Date: December 13, 2013
Director Peter Jackson returns to J.R.R. Tokienâ€˜s Middle-Earth with The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, the second entry in a new series of films that serve as a prequel to The Lord of the Rings trilogy.
Bilbo Baggins (Martin Freeman), along with Gandalf the Grey (Ian McKellen), Thorin Oakenshield (Richard Armitage), and his twelve companions, continue on their quest: to reach the Lonely Mountain and reclaim the kingdom of Ererbor (and its golden treasure) from the dragon Smaug (Benedict Cumberbatch), the “Chiefest and Greatest of Calamities.”
Bilbo and his companions venture into the black forest of Mirkwood, where they are attacked by giant spiders and captured by Wood-elves. Enter Legolas (Orlando Bloom) and Tauriel (Evangeline Lilly) in a storyline created by Jackson to expand The Hobbit narrative and give the story a female character, which it desperately needs.
Unfortunately, the kick-ass She-elf is immediately thrown into a love triangle involving Legolas and Sexy Dwarfâ„¢ Kili, who isn’t really that short and looks nothing like a dwarf. That’s Kili, by the way, not to be confused with his brother Fili, aka Dwarf Andy Sambergâ„¢, or Thorin, who is, of course, Dwarf Viggo Mortensenâ„¢.
Dwarves, Wood-elves, Wizards, Skin-Changers, Giant CGI Bumble Bees, Dragons, Bard the Bowman, Stephen Fry – there are so many characters fighting for screen time in The Desolation of Smaug, the Hobbit – you know, the guy this movie’s supposed to be about – gets pushed to the back of the line.
Sure he kills a few spiders, goes whitewater rafting, and has a chat with a dragon that sounds a lot like Khan Noonien Singh, but for the rest of the film’s 161-minute runtime, Martin Freeman is invisible – even when he isn’t wearing the One Ring.
Jackson’s second Hobbit film feels more like Legolas: Origins, with Orlando Bloom (and his CGI double) surfing down stone staircases on bloated Orc corpses, slaughtering thousands of pixels with his Elven bow. This is just one example of how The Desolation of Smaug is too concerned with acting as a bridge to The Lord of the Rings trilogy instead of telling its own story.
In addition to Legolas, there’s a throwaway reference to Gimli, and a scene where Gandalf and Thorin meet at The Prancing Pony (where the Hobbits meet Aragorn in Fellowship of the Ring). Hell, even Sauron makes an appearance. Jackson would rather remind us of his previous films than focus on Bilbo’s journey.
Remember Star Wars: Episode II – Attack of the Clones? Remember the bad, unnecessary CGI – like Yoda bouncing around like a rubber ball, or that terrible droid factory scene? Replace Yoda with a Wood-elf and the droid factory with a dwarf forge and you’ve got essentially the same film.
If Jackson’s Lord of the Rings trilogy was this generation’s Star Wars, then The Hobbit films are the new Prequels – a series of shiny, empty spectacles where green screens and polygons have become more important than storytelling.