As with the first installment in Peter Jackson's Hobbit trilogy, "Desolation of Smaug" seems to fall just short of reaching its full potential. The forth coming extended director's cut will be sure to change all that in the coming months. For now we'll have to sit tight with what we've got. Rest assured that this new installment comes packed with more exciting thrills and even grander visual spectacle guaranteed to entertain you for the massive nearly three hours that you'll be planted in your seats.
When Peter Jackson released the first Hobbit film, it was apparent that he was trying to recapture the glory of his Lord of the Rings days. Structurally speaking, the film was nearly beat for beat the same as "The Fellowship of the Ring" but nowhere near as exciting or dramatically entertaining. That has all changed. "The Hobbit Desolation of Smaug" is able to stand tall with an identity of its own thanks in part to more entertaining action, deeper storytelling, quickened pace, and probably one of the best dragons cinema has ever seen.
Let's get the easy stuff out of the way first. Tolkien is nothing short of a visionary and thanks to the passionate individuals located within the halls of Weta Workshop and Weta Digital, the world he created can be brought to life down to the most minute detail. Not seeing this movie now would be a mistake, "Desolation of Smaug" looks beautiful on the big screen and for those seeking out an epic way to end their year; then this film is going to be the best way to go.
The most heard of complaint concerning the first film was the pacing of its narrative. The film was nearly three hours long and nothing really happened. That has all been dealt with. You can tell that the beginning of "Desolation" has been quickened. Scenes within the first forty minutes all seem sort of cramped together, but the film flows briskly from one moment to the other with just enough action sprinkled in that the narrative never becomes stale. Once the company of Dwarves and Hobbit escape Mirkwood forest, the film is really allowed to breathe and expand.
It is in this expansion, that "Desolation" really comes into its own. There is a lot of information in this film that didn't appear in the original printing of "The Hobbit" novel. Now that doesn't mean the filmmakers made it all up, portions of this new content has been brought in from Tolkien's other writings about the lore of Middle Earth. There are of course those that wish director Peter Jackson had just sat down and made a note for note adaptation of "The Hobbit" and not tried connecting it with "The Lord of the Rings", but down the road I think they will see that it will payoff.
So in short, if you had misgivings with the first "Hobbit" film's pacing, then those fears can be laid to rest. "The Desolation of Smaug" is an entertaining and enjoyable adventure film full of lively action sequences met with an engaging narrative. As always, the realm of Middle Earth is wondrous to behold and nobody can be more trusted in bringing that vision onto the silver screen better than Peter Jackson. If I had to say one bad thing about the film, it would be that the conclusion is still a year away. Thanks to this new film, I am now able to understand why Peter Jackson meant for the story to be told in three parts.