The original Lord of the Rings trilogy delivered an epic series that took the world by storm creating legions of fans and movie history. With their success and the love fans have for them it comes as no surprise that Peter Jackson decided to travel back to Middle-Earth to take on the prequel book The Hobbit. Instead of making one film, he has opted to spread it out into an all-new trilogy featuring a more expanded edition of the original book. The latest installment The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug continues the new trilogy with word that it may be more action oriented than the previous films as well as the appearance of the dragon Smaug, but does it measure up or feel forced with all the added footage?
The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug follows Bilbo, Gandalf and the band of dwarves as they continue their journey to Lonely Mountain and where Baggins must seek out the Secret Door that will give them access to the hoard of the dragon Smaug, but to get there they must fight their way through the Mirkwood Forest and Lake-town facing off against elves, spiders, and more while still trying to stay ahead of the orc hoard. While the last film still felt a lot like the previous trilogy with way too many long drawn out visual sequences, it still managed to improve on the boring aspects of the original trilogy making for a much more enjoyable film. There have been talk of all the extra stuff added to stretch this one book into an all-new trilogy and this latest edition kicks that stuff off in high gear. This time around the film showcases a lot more action sequences that while some would have been better with less CGI are still highly entertaining. The story lags a bit at first due to some drab dialogue and trying to re-find its footing, but once it does it is a fun ride from start to finish. The visuals for the most part are as great as always, but it is a bit of a bummer that Jackson has gone the almost full CGI route for everything because while it is epic, it just doesn’t feel real sometimes.
The new additions play well to connect it with the original trilogy helping to create a more cohesive film universe whether it was needed or not. Some of the best action scenes feature the wood elves Orlando Bloom’s Legolas and Evangeline Lilly’s Tauriel, but the real scene stealer that makes this movie worth the ride is Smaug voiced brilliantly by Benedict Cumberbatch. The effects here are flawless and are easily the most enjoyable to watch in both character interaction and action. From the moment Smaug is revealed he is believable as a character and takes this film to a new level. There are some action pieces that are pretty over the top and silly, but thanks to the creative nature are fun to watch. There are sure to be fans that will be mad at the addition of the aspects that may or may not have been needed, but does actually work to make this film work better than it probably should.
Once again the 3D adds depth to the film, but really isn’t all that necessary in the bigger picture. At times it is a bit distracting with the high frame rate making things appear as though they are speeding up. Whether you’re a fan or not of the original trilogy this one manages to stand out on it’s own delivering something new, while still making for a great companion piece. This series is way better on a lot of levels but is sure to split fans as usual with these kinds of films. Either way, make up your own mind and join Bilbo and the gang for this latest adventure because it is one that should be seen on the big screen.