Hobbit 2 – The Desolation Of Smaug
TOWT and I went to the magic lantern house the other day to see the second of the Peter Jackson’s three part adaptation of JRR Tolkein’s Hobbit.
The problem with any second part of a trilogy is that it is always going to be a transitioning piece – picking up the themes of the first part and setting the scene for what one hopes will be a blockbuster of a final part. TDoS has these issues to grapple with and for the most part overcomes the structural restrictions. Yes, the ending is somewhat unsatisfactory and means that the film can never be judged in isolation, leaving the viewer with the realisation that they’ve got to wait another year and spend some more money to see the denouement, but the storyline is carried along with gusto and the film is entertaining enough.
The movie picks up from where we were left in the Unexpected Journey, travelling to the Lonely Mountain and the dwarf kingdom of Erebor which was destroyed and occupied by the dragon, Smaug. Our heroes, Bilbo Baggins and his group of dwarves, have a series of adventures along the way. I won’t spoil your enjoyment – too much – but there is a marvellous and fairly lengthy set piece where the comrades effect their escape from the prison of the Wood Elves by hiding in barrels which are washed down the river into, almost, the clutches of the Orcs. It is through finally making their escape from the Orcs that they meet Bard the Bowman and through his good offices (for an appropriate fist of silver) make their way to Laketown. It is in Laketown that they meet the Lord of the place, played wonderfully by the ubiquitous Stephen Fry. From there they travel to the Lonely Mountain and in their efforts to find the Arkenstone rouse the dragon, Smaug.
I was a bit disappointed in Smaug – a bit too prolix and gentlemanly for my taste, although, that said, I have never encountered a dragon – perhaps they are all like that – and the final scenes, whilst gripping, were overly long.
The film has a fine vein of humour running through it and a large element of parody – the elves in particular seem to be straight out of Hollywood’s Kung Fu tradition. Martin Freeman as Bilbo plays his part well and his delivery is refreshing when compared with the saga-ese claptrap that comes out of the mouths of most of the other characters.
The baddies are grotesque and the set pieces are spectacular. Even if the action leaves you cold, the magnificent New Zealand scenery is worth the admission money.
A charming film and worth seeing, if only to set you up for the third. Don’t go if you are an arachnophobe, though!