Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug` - an exciting visual opus (IANS Movie Review)
Rating: *** 1/2
If the first instalment of "The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey" was visually splendid, then "The Desolation of Smauga" is an optimistically exciting adventure opus with dollops of action scenes that include fights, chases and romance.
The film takes off from its first edition and hits the crux head on.
In a Tavern in Bree on the border of Shire, Thorin (Richard Armitage) gathers Gandalf (Ian McKellen) along with the 13 dwarves and Bilbo Baggins (Martin Freeman), the hobbit and inspires them to help him recover the ancestral treasures of Oakenshields, which include the precious Arkenstone. And thereby retrieve their underground former kingdom of Erebor from Smaug, the fire-breathing dragon who resides in the Lonely Mountain.
Guided by Gandalf, this formidable journey to the Lonely Mountain takes them through a path made treacherous with eerie and spine chilling encounters beginning with Beorn who alternates between a human and bear-like beast.
The initial stages of the journey drag but the last half of the film oscillates between sub-plots - the romance brewing between Elfin Tauriel (Evangeline Lilly) and Killi (Aidan Turner) with Legolas (Orlando Bloom) trailing behind, the battle between the Elfs and the Orcs in Lake town, Gandalf's quest to reveal much darker forces at work and Bard's personal journey.
Obviously Bilbo has a major hand in this grand adventure. Identified as the "ideal burglar" by Gandalf and with the 'Ring of Power', in his pocket, which cloaks him in invisibility, he encounters Smaug.
In the underbelly of the Lonely Mountain, lying dormant in the treasure trove, Smaug appears magnificent when he wakes up.
Director Peter Jackson performs the same kind of miracles with the digital Smaug that he did with Gollum in the "Lord of the Rings". As a digital creation, Smaug is magnificent, ominous and threatening. And Benedict Cumberbatch gives him a perfect voice to match.
The scenes between Smaug and Bilbo imbue this bloated 3D experience with a sense of character, purpose and nail-biting moments.
The casting and performances are excellent and production quality of the film is rich and faultless.
Every scene and frame has a fantasy feel to it, filled with energy and charm which could be termed as Jackson- Tolkien Style that brings us closer to nature.
The computer generated images seamlessly merge with cinematographer Ray Harryhausen's images. The landscape adds to the beauty of the narration bringing J.R.R. Tolkien's 1937 Children's novel "The Hobbit" to life.
If you are inclined towards adventure, then this film is definitely a must watch.
`The Hobbit` & Secrets of Smaug the Dragon: Is
Benedict Cumberbatch the Most Wicked Character in the Film?
by Alex Hillsberg
Come December 13 all Middle Earth is set for a fiery encounter, or at least 13 dwarves, a hobbit and a wizard are. Peter Jackson`s The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug introduces us to the most impressive depiction by far of Smaug since J.R.R. Tolkien`s The Hobbit was first published in the late thirties.
The second part of the Peter Jackson trilogy is expected to be packed with new characters set to add flair to the movie. Thandruil and his Mirkwood elves stake their claim on the storyline. Beorn, the changeling, will also roar his way to add “bigness” to the movie. In the trailer, he appears to be a huge bear wanting to kill the dwarves, but he is, really, just a man with a good heart. Likewise, we`re introduced to Bard, a descendant of the Lord of Dale, the city which Smaug had destroyed along with Erebor in the first movie. He`ll play a crucial role and we leave it up to you to discover how, if you haven`t read the book yet.
But if you did, you`ll notice some significant differences given Jackson`s liberal use of poetic license in Tolkien`s Middle Earth. For one, Orlando Bloom is back to play Legolas, Thandruil`s son. The elf, in fact, didn`t appear in the book version; rather, his first appearance was in the Council of Elrond in The Lord of the Rings, where we also saw the older Gloin-one of the thirteen dwarves-with his son, Gimli, arguing with the elf. And then there`s Evangeline Lilly`s Tauriel, Legolas` love interest. Tolkien would have wondered who she is; she didn`t figure in the author`s imaginative mind at all.
But the movie belongs to the biggest character, nay, the biggest badass maybe in Middle Earth: Smaug. Tolkien told us little about this dragon, so we did some clever calculations and figured out he`s about five trolls big, even bigger than Treebeard (that`s based on the books, not the movies which had the size factor increased to Hollywood proportions). We know he`s fearsome, and his tail whip is likely more powerful than the other infamous whiplash, that of the Balrog. His voice is piercing cold and cunning; Benedict Cumberbatch did a striking voice rendition of Smaug. Oops, don`t tell that to the actor, he is said to hate it when people say he`s the voice of Smaug. He is Smaug! He scowled, screeched, bellowed, spewed, and all that Smaug did in the movie. Thanks to motion capture technology and his incredible voice acting skills, Cumberbatch gave us a truly malevolent dragon.