Middle chapter The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug is an improvement on predecessor An Unexpected Journey, capturing the spirit of the original Lord of the Rings films.
Hobbit Bilbo Baggins, wizard Gandalf and the company of dwarves continue on their quest to reclaim Erebor, homeland of Thorin, from dragon Smaug. The group face a perilous journey through Mirkwood Forest and beyond…
The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug sets a good pace almost immediately. Much of the scene-setting was taken care of in An Unexpected Journey, which allows for this instalment to brim with action and progression. There is certainly more going on in this film.
Director Peter Jackson has, as ever, created an immersive fantasy world. The locations are quintessential fantasy, as are the characters that inhabit them.
With a running time of two hours and forty minutes, there is ample time for the narrative to unfold. The world that Jackson has created is so removed from reality that it is difficult to know how much time has passed. Nonetheless, The Desolation of Smaug does not rush the journey, nor the screen time of its title character.
The dragon Smaug offers a formidable opponent to Bilbo and company. Even before any encounter takes place, there is sufficient myth-making to build a reputation and sense of apprehension. Elsewhere, Legolas makes a welcome return; his presence is particularly gratifying in the action sequences.
Production values in The Desolation of Smaug are superb. The 3D is utilised seamlessly, and effects appear authentic. The score is also effective and successfully evokes the atmosphere of the earlier Lord of the Rings trilogy. Performances are good throughout, with Martin Freeman and Ian McKellen reprises their roles with energy. Benedict Cumberbatch is a good choice for the voice of Smaug, while Luke Evans is a decent addition to the cast.
The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug is an adventure-filled film that leaves the audience eager for the final chapter.