“Full of action, full of Tolkien but unfortunately it’s the most unnecessarily long film so far and I felt a more appropriate title would be the desolation of my arse muscles!”

The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug Review
By Simon Jago

The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug (2013)
Certificate: 12A
Cast: Martin Freeman, Ian McKellen, Richard Armitage, Orlando Bloom, Hugo Weaving, Cate Blanchett, Benedict Cumberbatch
Director(s): Peter Jackson
Screenwriter(s): Fran Walsh, Philippa Boyens, Peter Jackson, Guillermo Del Toro
Running Time: 161 min

Peter Jackson returns with his latest edition to the Middle-Earth universe. The ‘Lord of the Rings’ trilogy was three 400 or so page books turned into three 3-hour films. The Hobbit is about 200 pages and has some how been turned into three films of the same length. How? Who knows but I guess we’ll find out!

The Desolation of Smaug continues the adventure of a company of Dwarves in their attempt to kill a dragon and reclaim their homeland with the help of a Hobbit named Bilbo Baggins and a wizard named Gandalf the Grey. Hunted by Orcs and under pressure to reach the Lonely Mountain before the last light of Durin’s Day the company have a real struggle ahead of them.

Some will argue that this is better than the first one as there is less drag and more crash bang wallop. However, I disagree. I think Peter Jackson has climbed too high with standards with regards to the Middle-Earth adaptations to risk dragging out and potential ‘over-cooking’ the limited source material that is left. The first Hobbit was a great re-visit to Middle-Earth that fans had been anticipating for a long time and really if you’re being honest, all of the Lord of the Rings films could do with being cut down (God knows the never ending ‘Return of the King’ could have been) but I’ve never sat watching them thinking that at the time because I’ve just enjoyed the ride and soaked up Jackson’s view of Tolkien’s fictional universe. This time round I felt it was a long ‘Lord of the Rings’ film for the sake of being a long ‘Lord of the Rings’ film.

Benedict Cumberbatch as Smaug was superb. Just like the character set piece in the first Hobbit between Martin Freeman’s Bilbo and Andy Serkis as Gollum, one of the most enjoyable moments for me was when Smaug first awakens and Bilbo tries to outwit him. Orlando Bloom returns as Legolas, looking slightly fatter and about ten years older despite this film being set a fair while before the original trilogy. However, he is joined by Tauriel played by the stunning Evangeline Lilly who beautiful. Dressed as an arrow slinging knife wielding wood elf her character will now give the next generation of World of Warcraft players world-wide a new poster girl to spend their long lonely nights digitally please themselves over (Not judging, I play WoW from time to time myself). All the CGI action, orcs and giant bears are great but essentially it’s the character driven elements that are most enjoyable as you are almost tired of battles by the end of the movie. The plot is essentially; Dwarves get captured by giant spiders, Dwarves get captured by Elves, Dwarves get captured by Orcs, Dwarves get captured by a Dragon while and here’s the wild card, Gandalf gets captured by a Necromancer.

I have to make note that where as some of the CGI looks absolutely stunning for example bringing Smaug the dragon to life, there are also some very shoddy by the numbers green screen shots and some computer generated elements such as equine steeds that quite frankly look pony (That means bad!).

Another edition to the Middle Earth universe but in my opinion it’s the worst “Lord of the Rings” film yet with regards to standing alone by its own merit. Full of action, full of Tolkien but unfortunately it’s the most unnecessarily long film so far and I felt a more appropriate title would be the desolation of my arse muscles!

3.5 star rating