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hobbit desolation smaug
Click for full sized poster

The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug

Starring Martin Freeman, Ian McKellen, Richard Armitage, Hugo Weaving, Cate Blanchett, Orlando Bloom, Evangeline Lilly, Benedict Cumberbatch
Screenplay by Fran Walsh & Philippa Boyens & Peter Jackson & Guillermo del Toro
Based on the novel by J. R. R. Tolkien
Directed by Peter Jackson

IN SHORT: Fanboys be warned -- there's a girl in this band of travellers. [Rated PG-13. 161 minutes]

For those still too stupefied from last year's initial episode The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey we can report that The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug actually has a number of stories running side by side with battles and fights and huge creepy crawlies and nasty orcs and all the good stuff you wasted three hours sitting through the first film to not get. This year, you get it all and a cliffhanger ending which, depending on your particular audience, will get a cheering reaction or a mix of applause and confused boos slash cheers. There's no other way to describe it. We heard it first hand in a packed theater.

The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug is the middle two and a half hours of what will be an eight hours (or so) long story based on the source novel by J. R. R. Tolkien. It is a middle portion that relies on a viewer having seen Part One to know who the various characters are. It is a section that sets up several stories -- one is of a fallen King, Thorin Oakenshield (Richard Armitage), who decides to take win back the throne of the lost Dwarf Kingdom called Erebor and potentially create a new empire; one pits the Wizard Gandalf the Grey (Ian McKellen) against an ancient Evil that would bring war to the known world; Lastly there is the story of the hobbit Bilbo Baggins (Martin Freeman) and the dragon Smaug (voiced by Benedict Cumberbatch), who may just be connected to the ancient Evil Gandalf if facing. We're not quite clear about that point.

Here we pause to remind readers that the Primary Rule of this Site is that (you) should not have to have read the Source Material to understand what is going on. If we've missed something, it's probably due to the godzilla sized popcorn and soda combo that we feasted on -- anyone saying that the best of Jackson's movies aren't good popcorn flicks is just wrong. Jackson's one tendency is to not trim his scenes more than he does A second or two here and there several dozen times over would have been of great value to this portion of the story.

Each of the films in the original The Lord of the Rings worked as (its) own movie, as well as pieces of an overall epic. What will be The Hobbit Trilogy is, essentially, a short novel exploded far out of proportion to the original. One character, the elf king Legolas (Orlando Bloom), is imported from the Rings Trilogy to connect the two stories together and we have no problem with that. Nor is there a problem with the creation of a new elf warrior, Tauriel (Evangeline Lilly), who adds a bit of romance to the Saga in her part of the story.

Ultimately, for The Hobbit set of films, the only way to watch this saga is to wait for the deluxe, combined, two DVD set that will probably be available for the Christmas after Part Three is released, and then watch the whole thing on the biggest teevee screen you've got, is probably why this portion fails. Characters are introduced and disappear (though you can be sure the guy with the "black arrow" will be back for next year's finale). Portions of the backstory detailed in last year's film, well, make sure you've refreshed your memory of The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey before you buy the ticket for The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug.

On average, a first run movie ticket will run you Ten Bucks. Were Cranky able to set his own price to The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, he would have paid . . .


You know you're buying the ticket . . . even if you agree with this site that The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey was a waste of your time and money. That written, The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug is a much more entertaining sit.

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