The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug (2013)

hobbit the desolation of smaug poster 2013 movie
7.5 Overall Score
Story: 6/10
Acting: 8/10
Visuals: 8/10

Better than the first entry, moves faster

Still not a great film, unbalanced, unnecessary scenes

Movie Info

Movie Name:  The Hobbit:  The Desolation of Smaug

Studio:  MGM/New Line Cinema/WingNut Films

Genre(s):  Sci-Fi/Fantasy/Action/Adventure

Release Date(s):  December 2, 2013 (Premiere)/December 13, 2013 (US)

MPAA Rating:  PG-13

hobbit the desolation of smaug butterflies mirkwood forest bilbo baggins martin freeman

Butterflies!!! Maybe I should be killing spiders instead…

Bilbo Baggins (Martin Freeman), Gandalf the Grey (Ian McKellan), and the dwarves led by Thorin Oakenshield (Richard Armitage) continue their trek to the Misty Mountain.  Now, Bilbo has a secret.  He has discovered a ring that allows him to turn invisible.  When Gandolf is forced to investigate the threat of the Necromancer, the hobbit and dwarves find themselves in battle with giant spiders, orcs, and the threat of elves.  Fleeing to Laketown, Bilbo and his allies have reached their goal and are find in the shadow of the Misty Mountain.  A human named Bard (Luke Evans) is trying to undermine the Master of Laketown (Stephen Fry) and save his people…and he could be the only hope.  Plotting to enter their kingdom to retrieve the Arkenstone, Bilbo might have his ultimate challenge in the face of Smaug!

hobbit the desolation of smaug beorn bear skinchanger

A baloo is a bear…a Beorn is a bear

Directed by Peter Jackson, The Hobbit:  The Desolation of Smaug is an action adventure fantasy film.  The movie is a follow-up to The Hobbit:  An Unexpected Journey from 2012,  and the second in the three part adaptation of J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit from 1937.  The movie was shot in 3D and at 48 frames per second which was a change in format from the standard film.  While the first film was met by huge box office revenue, but mixed reviews, the second film was released to slightly more positive reviews.  The film received Academy Award nominations for Best Sound Editing, Best Sound Mixing, and Best Visual Effects (losing all to Gravity).

I enjoyed The Lord of the Rings trilogy, but when I was growing up, The Hobbit was my preferred book of the two.  The story is much more accessible, flows quickly, and is a nice solid fantasy piece…Peter Jackson is attempting his best to destroy that.

hobbit the desolation of smaug bilbo baggins vs spiders mirkwood forest martin freeman

Feel the stings…of Sting

I will concede that this film’s story was slightly better.  There was more action, and the movie got going much quicker than the previous sluggish entry.  The movie still just doesn’t flow and in an effort to milk three movies out of a story that is at most two films, leads to tons of unnecessary (read that as mostly boring) extra scenes are added which add very little to the plot.

The movie moves like a video game (that is not a good thing) due to the segmented nature of the story.  You have the “Spider” level, the “Elf Kingdom” level, the “Barrel Escape” level, “Laketown” level, “Find the Arkenstone” level, and finally “Ignite the Furnace” level, The movie also has “side quests”.  A team made up of three non-descript dwarves, Tauriel (Evangeline Lilly), and Legolas (Orlando Bloom) to save Kili for a really bad love triangle.  It is like a having to watch someone play a game like Fable or something.

hobbit the desolation of smaug barrel riding sequence thorin oakenshield richard armitage

It’s the barrel-riding level!

It would be one thing if this came from the book (much of it was made up for the expanded sequels but basic structure is true), but characters aren’t even following logic.  There doesn’t seem to be much motivation for any of the characters.  Why does Gandolf just take off when Galadriel (Cate Blanchett) summons him to investigate something that they kind of already know…the Necromancer isn’t what he seems?  He also walks into a trap intentionally for what?  It isn’t clear what he planned to do when he discovered the trap…it is just another meaningless action scene.

*****Spoiler Alert***** The movie also ends rather poorly.  Despite being a three part story, I felt that The Lord of the Rings did a decent job finding stopping points and gave the views a bit of a sense of conclusion for each movie.  The Hobbit:  An Unexpected Journey had Bilbo finally being accepted by the dwarves.  Here, the movie really does just end.  The Smaug fight really should have been concluded or at the very least it should have been revealed that Bilbo did get the Arkenstone and is debating what to do with it, but Smaug just flies off…the end?!?!  It isn’t really even a cliffhanger.

hobbit the desolation of smaug dragon bilbo baggins benedict cumberbatch martin freeman

Gaze upon the glory of Smaug!!!

Visually the movie also is a bit problematic.  I saw The Hobbit:  An Unexpected Journey in standard projection and not in 3D.  I saw this one in 3D with the 48 frames per second.  I see pros and cons.  Yes, you can see detail that wouldn’t be possible in standard shooting, but it also looks like video and a BBC program with good FX versus bad ones.  Plus, you get the tons of extra shots of people running across fields…with the unnecessary over-used music which now is becoming more of an irritation after four (long) films.

Despite this harsh criticism, I didn’t hate The Hobbit:  The Desolation of Smaug, but I also recognize that it isn’t a good movie.  If I didn’t love the story when I was growing up, I might actually be harder on it.  It is bloated and filled with underdeveloped characters doing illogical things, but hey, it has a cool dragon.  As mentioned, it is slightly better than The Hobbit:  An Unexpected Journey, but still a long way from being a solid, good movie (Jackson also released an even longer expanded version).  The Hobbit:  The Desolation of Smaug is followed by The Hobbit:  The Battle of the Five Armies in 2014.

Related Links:

The Hobbit:  An Unexpected Journey (2012)

The Hobbit:  The Battle of the Five Armies (2014)

The Lord of the Rings:  The Fellowship of the Ring (2001)

The Lord of the Rings:  The Two Towers (2002)

The Lord of the Rings:  The Return of the King (2003)

The Hobbit (1977)

The Return of the King (1980)

The Lord of the Rings (1978)

The 86th Academy Award Nominations

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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