ShOR 365: The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug

Photo Credit: MGM/New Line/Warner Bros.

Yes, yes, I know. I am already behind two days on my binge. I plan on making up for that very soon. I absolutely promise. Without further ado, however, let’s dive into The Desolation of Smaug.

The Desolation of Smaug picks up where our journey left off in An Unexpected Journey. After being rescued by the Eagles, our band of dwarves and one homesick hobbit find themselves chased by orcs and aided by a skin-changer who really doesn’t like dwarves. From there, Thorin and company get captured by the Woodland Elves and Thandruil (Lee Pace). Kili and new elf Tauriel (Evangeline Lily) fall into quite a cute infatuation. The dwarves, followed by orcs, are rescued by Bard (Luke Evans) of the human realm near Erebor and the audience finally meets Smaug (Benedict Cumberbatch).

There’s plenty of action in this film which makes it a nice change of pace from An Unexpected Journey. Now that we’ve been pulled into this world, there’s not a lot of exposition bogging the story down. Instead, The Desolation of Smaug is a beautiful spectacle of fingernail biting suspense. It’s the perfect bridge between the two stories with a killer cliff-hanger that left me wanting more.

Radagast the Brown (Sylvester McCoy) and Gandalf make a game-changing discovery that will no doubt rock the entire story and things to come. Sauron (also Benedict Cumberbatch), a dark sorcerer, has been gathering the rings of power and preparing for war with the good people of Middle Earth. In the previous film, Galadriel and Saruman (Christopher Lee) dismissed any notions that a war was coming and Radagast and Gandalf prove them wrong. We don’t see the two naysayers in this film but I have a feeling that they’ll appear in The Battle of Five Armies where, no doubt, war is imminent.

I have so many feelings about Radagast. I’ve never been introduced to Sylvester McCoy’s acting (yes, I know, I’m a Classic Doctor Who noob) so I was pleasantly surprised by him and his acting and his character. Radagast is such a whimsical character. He’s one with the birds and the animals of Middle Earth and he’s so gleeful and full of whimsy despite being possibly very old. It was nice seeing McCoy perhaps a bit in his element. He wasn’t chosen to play Radagast on a whim, there is no doubt in my mind. He was chosen because he can bring such a lighthearted presence to this otherwise emotionally heavy story.

Also, don’t get me started on Cumberbatch. I find it rather humorous that poor Freeman can’t seem to shake the shadow of his Sherlock co-star but there’s no doubt that they play well off of each other. The entire scene in Erebor and in the castle is rife with tension and fear. Cumberbatch did motion capture for Smaug, the dragon who’s taken over the dwarves’ homeland, and it’s obvious that no matter what they’re working on, Freeman and Cumberbatch are perfect foils for each other. Their chemistry is off the charts and it makes the scenes in Erebor so much more tension-filled and nail-biting. I was scared for the entire company of dwarves and by the end of the film, I was, literally, yelling at my computer screen. Smaug is a force to be reckoned with and I cannot wait to see how this story wraps up.

Once again, Richard Armitage proves that he was the best fit for Thorin. There is a madness in the Oakenshield family and Thorin, in this film, just shows that no matter who you are, there is always that chance of becoming who you promise not to be. There is a glimpse of that madness that ruined Thrain (his father) in Thorin and the audience can see it on full display once he returns to Erebor. I have no doubt that this will be visited in The Battle of Five Armies and I can’t wait to see Armitage kill it.

There is so much eye-candy in this film, between Pace, Armitage, and Aidan Turner, I wasn’t expecting more to pop up and lo and behold, here comes Legolas (Orlando Bloom) in all his blue-eyed glory proving that Bloom hasn’t aged in nearly ten years. Another surprising addition to the cast was Luke Evans in the role of Bard of Lake-town. I’ve always really liked Evans and it was quite nice seeing him playing a character in this lore.

The only thing I didn’t like in this film was the love-triangle between Kili, Tauriel, and Legolas. I don’t know enough of the lore to be angry at the fact that Tauriel is non-canon but, I am upset that the filmmakers saddled a strong, woman Elf with an unneeded romantic entanglement. Her relationship with Kili is cute, don’t get me wrong, but Legolas being thrown into the mix just wasn’t needed, I don’t think. But, that’s my own opinion and I may change it once I see The Battle of Five Armies.

In all, The Desolation of Smaug was a solid sequel and a great bridge between the first film and the the third film of The Hobbit trilogy.

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