Pauls Valley, OK, Pauls Valley Democrat

January 14, 2014

‘Desolation of Smaug’ short of desolating, step up for Hobbit 2

Movie Review

Ezra Mann
Pauls Valley Democrat

emann@pvdemocrat.com — Geek Wars, episode two: Attack on the Lord of the Rings Clone - There is unrest on the various forms of social media all over the internet and several purists have announced their intentions to gripe about all of the changes Peter Jackson has made to the latest chapter. This by the book movement, under the leadership of a Dungeons and Dragons group that regularly meets in the Arby’s booth next to the restroom has made it difficult for people to enjoy what is admittedly something that is milking a one part novel by making it a trilogy.

This reviewer, once an avid book reader before computer exposure fried his brain, is returning to the land of the interwebs to try and separate what is actually a step up from the first film without riling the army of the annoyed from the story that inspired it in the first place. That said, the wait for the most part was actually worth it and though I could be frustrated that there was much less desolation than the title suggested, it felt like a lot more was actually accomplished than the introductory tale. “The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug” brings us a bit closer to the characters and though it certainly adds quite a bit of what was not there, in a way helps tie the overall universe neatly together cinematically speaking.

After backtracking again to remind the audience of why the story started in the first place, this chapter picks up with eager to be dwarf king, Thorin (Richard Armitage) and his company being trailed again by invent-a-villain, Azog (Manu Bennett). Since the party can’t travel by map in a quick musical montage to the Dwarves home under the mountain, they must face danger once again, though at least for a few minutes with the help of a giant bear of a man named Beorn (Mikael Persbrandt).

When Gandalf (Ian McKellen) isn’t running off in the secret mission to tie this series to the rise of the flaming evil eye, Bilbo Baggins (Martin Freeman) is yet again busy clumsily saving his crew from the dangers like giant forest spiders and racist elves. But, just as you think it can’t be drawn out any further, we finally meet the man who may just be able to take Smaug the Dragon (Benedict Cumberbatch) down, Bard the Bowman (Luke Evans), in what has to be the worst tourism commercial for a lake resort ever. However, by this point, you are fully hooked and once we finally meet the fire-breathing creature in the title, the whole initial encounter is pretty cool on a full sized cinema screen.

A long with the notches being raised on the various encounters, the music was a bigger plus for the second part, as good as the composer Howard Shore can get. Despite what gripes one might have about the story sticking to the source material, one of the things this movie also did much better on was leaving a cliff hanger where you hate that you have to wait another year to see the conclusion.

About the only gripe I’ve read about that I would give any leeway to is the potential way the third movie is suggesting Smaug will be taken down, which is admittedly not as cool as what I remember when reading the story years ago. Still, it’s a flick that as long as you don’t have to pee half way through, families will enjoy and one I don’t regret as adding to what was a limited list in 2013. In the end, it’s worth four and a half out of five Arkenstones for “The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug.”

Movie viewing experience courtesy of the Royal Twin Theater of Pauls Valley.