Dee Discusses: The Desolation of Smaug

Posted: December 26, 2013 by Dee in Dee, General Media, Movies, New Movies, Reviews
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There will be spoilers in this review. You’ve been warned.

The Hobbit is one of my favorite books of all time. I read part of it when I was little, I had a book of dragons and Smaug was in that part, and so when I sat down to read the real book, I remembered it vividly. So obviously I was most excited to see the dragon himself and that iconic scene, plus this movie promised to have the most memorable scenes in the entire text. Which was absolutely true. You have the spiders, the wood elves, the barrel scene, and Smaug. I have a good idea of what they’ll have in the last film, and there’s plenty of good stuff there, but this is the real meat. The Empire Strikes Back of the trilogy, no doubt. It should be only two movies instead of three, even in this one there was padding they could’ve cut, but it’s a cash cow. I forgive them that, because I had an amazing time watching. I’ve seen it three times. I have no regrets. There are so many great things in this, but let’s get to the summary first.

Previously: Bilbo Baggins preferred to stay at home and have a quiet life, but he was recruited into a band of thirteen dwarves and Gandalf. They wanted to go on an adventure to the Lonely Mountain, which used to be the home of the dwarves until a terrifying dragon came and took over. He was attracted to the gold. Thorin Oakenshield, the leader of the dwarves and their future king, wanted to restore their people, but he needed a special object called the Arkenstone. It has the power to corrupt people, like Thorin’s grandfather, but it is the only way for the dwarves to follow him. They went through many adventures in the first one, but Thorin and the others doubted Bilbo was worth taking along. In the end he proved his worth by saving Thorin’s life against a vicious orc. He also picks up a special ring in the goblin tunnels from a creepy creature named Gollum. You might know who that is. 😉 The Desolation of Smaug takes place immediately afterward. The group is still fleeing the orcs following them, and Bilbo sees another creature on the hills. Gandalf reveals him to be a skinchanger who could kill them, but decides to help them instead. When they make it to the Mirkwood, where the silvan elves live, Gandalf decides there’s something more important happening and wanders off to his own adventure.

The group continues into the woods, but they soon lose their way. Bilbo climbs the trees to see past them into the mountains, but his crew has been taken by a vicious group of spiders. He manages to save all of them, and get used to hearing that, because Bilbo saves them a lot. They are captured by the elves, and Bilbo follows invisible. We see Legolas again and meet his father, King Thranduil, who betrayed Thorin’s family long before when they needed help from Smaug. Thorin therefore refuses any deal he offers, and they’re stuck in prison. And say it with me again, Bilbo saves them. AGAIN. He sneaks them down to the wine cellar and they get stuck in barrels, where he’s hoping the current will take them out of the elf home. We are also introduced to a new character, Tauriel, who is the only main female character in The Hobbit so far, and naturally made plenty of fans foam at the mouth for existing. We’ll get into that later. She is too low in blood for Legolas’ hand, although he may love her, and she instead makes a connection with the handsome young dwarf Kili. This is relevant since he is shot by an orc arrow and it threatens to poison him to death later on.

After surviving the barrel battle, with orcs and elves shooting at them, they bribe their way into Lake Town thanks to Bard, who is something of a hero to the people, trying to keep the poor town alive and well. The dwarves are kind of dickheads to him since he can’t get them the weapons they want, but they are captured trying to steal better ones. The Master of the town decides to help them go to the mountain when Thorin promises gold in return. They get to the right spot in time for the secret door to show itself, but nothing appears. They give up, except for Bilbo, who is genre savvy enough to know they’re not about to lose right then. There’s a whole other movie to do! He figures out it’s moonlight and not sunlight they need, and they get into the mountain. Now he has yet one more task to do: find the Arkenstone and bring it back. Oh and try not to wake up the dragon in there. No problem.

Haters be hating, I’m awesome.

Thus begins one of my favorite moments in literary history, which is a fantastic conversation between the brilliant and arrogant Smaug and Bilbo. It was exactly what I wanted. So I can’t blame them too much for deciding to lengthening the scene. Originally Bilbo just had the conversation with Smaug and then fled. They decided in this movie to make it more intense and have the dwarves come after him, and then run around the area trying to defeat Smaug. Personally I think it was just to show off their incredibly CGI for Smaug, and since I loved every second of it, I have zero complaints. The end result is the same: Pissed off, Smaug decides to go take out his fury on Lake Town. Bilbo is horrified and gasps ‘what have we done?’ Bam end of movie. Side stories include Gandalf finding out that Sauron might be back and investigating those creepy crypts, and yup, the necromancer is Sauron. He’s now captured. Whoops. This does make it a little suspect he was all “Sauron couldn’t be back!” in Fellowship. You would’ve thought if he knew it this long ago it might’ve come up in his head. Hopefully that is explained later. Tauriel and Legolas follow them to Lake Town and take down the orcs hunting everyone, and Tauriel saves Kili’s life. There’s some stuff about Bard and how his ancestor was supposed to kill the dragon, and he failed, so he has to redeem himself obviously by killing Smaug in the next movie. C’mon this isn’t rocket science.

So good things! The CGI as usual is flawless. I have heard that there are parts of the Smaug scene that look more like a video game than anything else, and while I can see that, I enjoyed it regardless. The dragon stuff was all beautiful, I loved every minute of it. It was hard not to clap my hands excitedly. The barrel scene was also a great highlight, I laughed several times, and as usual the things they pull off with the elves are fantastic. I personally loved Tauriel, so I’m going to stick my tongue out at the naysayers. It was great to have a woman in the sausage fest, but also she was interesting and badass and her point of view was great. She was the person insisting that the elves couldn’t hide in their wood, that evil needed to be fought out in the world. She’s strong and intelligent and also a healer, all things I loved. It could be seen as leading to development from Legolas, since he did eventually go out into the world and fight with dwarves to save everyone. The acting was great, as it’s been in the past. Martin Freeman has some of the best physical comedy moments I’ve seen in awhile. He has great expressions and that one moment when Smaug is coming out and he’s so panicked he awkwardly sits down all casual like? Had me laughing out loud. Thorin and Bilbo’s intense moment about the Arkenstone will be coming up again soon, and I look forward to that development. I’m glad they used the codex with Gandalf, so he didn’t just disappear with no word for an entire movie.

The bad things! Hm. Lake Town was a little slow. Not overly slow though. I liked the design of the town. I just didn’t care much about the Master and his sketchy side kick. Bard was okay, and they developed him more than he was in the books, but I can’t say I was that drawn to him. Plus he looks a creepy amount like Orlando Bloom, did you notice that? I know people are complaining about the love triangle, and Evangeline Lilly was pissed off about that too. They told her there wouldn’t be, and yet, alas, there was. It didn’t bother me too much because it was secondary, and I thought the chemistry with Kili was really good. I think jumping from one conversation to love is a bit much, but he’s supposed to be young and naive. No one said she was in love, she just connected to him. I do think they could’ve cut that, and/or only kept the stuff with Legolas, but it didn’t bother me much. Tauriel was great otherwise, that’s all I cared about. The changes they made from the book don’t bother me. It’s too long, they’re all too long. Unnecessarily so. This should have been only two movies. But I’ll forgive it, because I enjoyed the hell out of it, and I look forward to the next one. I think it’s cool to see all of this, because I feel a lot more emotionally tied in. I loved the book, but it was easier to go la la la la adventure now it’s over. But now these people are living breathing characters to me. I’m more invested in what happens. And what happens? Well read the damn book. Or wait until next year.

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