‘THE HOBBIT: THE DESOLATION OF SMAUG’
Please feel free to comment on my review.
I See Fire – The Adventure Continues
For Stephen, my best mate from school.
Our heroes get closer to Erebor!
After enjoying ‘The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey’ at the cinema in December 2012, I was looking forward to seeing ‘The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug’ next at the cinema in December 2013. I wondered what would happen next in the Quest for Erebor and to Bilbo and the Company of Thorin.
Like I did with the first film, I saw the second film twice at the cinema. The first time was with my best mate Stephen from school. Then it was with my parents. Seeing these ‘Hobbit’ films on the big screen was an amazing experience. I didn’t know what to expect when I saw these films at the cinema.
Here’s the story so far! Bilbo Baggins the hobbit leaves his home, the Shire, to join Gandalf, Thorin and a company of dwarves on an adventure to reclaim the ancient dwarf kingdom of Erebor from a fiery dragon called Smaug. Bilbo finds and keeps a gold ring of power from a creature called Gollum.
The movie’s title refers to the blackened, burnt land close to Erebor where the deserted city of Dale lies. It’s the area where Smaug made his attack many years ago and took over the kingdom of Erebor from the Dwarves for the sake of gold and treasure. Now Thorin’s company return to reclaim Erebor.
‘The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug’ was released on DVD and Blu-ray in 2014. I first purchased the 5-disc extended edition of the film on DVD. This had new extra footage and 9 hours of special features. My parents and I currently have the film as part of ‘The Hobbit’/’The Lord of the Rings’ 30-disc set on Blu-ray.
When I originally purchased the 5-disc extended edition of the film on DVD, it was in Brighton where I was attending the ‘Doctor Who’ convention ‘Timey Wimey 1’ in November 2014. I look back at that time with fond memories, but I’m very pleased that we have the film in the 30-disc Blu-ray box set.
I greatly enjoyed the movie’s opening flashback scene. It takes place in Bree and it’s set twelve months before ‘The Hobbit’ began. The scene has Gandalf meeting Thorin at the Prancing Pony to talk about the Quest for Erebor. It was pretty thrilling to revisit Bree in this film, having seen it in the ‘LOTR’.
After that flashback scene, we see the Company of Thorin now entering into the dangerous Wilderland. They don’t know what to expect when they get there. From the Carrock, they are hunted by orcs led by Azog the Defiler. Bilbo has also seen something and it’s like a giant black bear.
Richard Armitage returns as Thorin Oakenshield in the movie. By this stage of the story, Thorin has become an interesting character. His decisions get questioned as to whether he is worthy to take back the kingdom of Erebor. He’s very determined to reclaim Erebor and to acquire the Arkenstone.
Ken Stott returns as Balin and Graham McTavish returns as Dwalin. It was interesting to see how these two brothers were different from each other. Balin is more the negotiator of Thorin’s company whilst Dwalin is the fighter and doesn’t have a soft side. There isn’t much interaction between them though.
Aidan Turner returns as Kili and Dean O’Gorman returns Fili. Like Balin and Dwalin, there’s not much interaction between them, though Fili does stay behind in Lake-Town with his brother when he’s ill. I enjoyed Kili’s story where he develops romantic feelings for the Elf lady warrior called Tauriel. It does seem quite sweet.
John Callen returns as Óin and Peter Hambleton returns as Glóin. In this movie, Óin gets to be the healer when he tries to cure Kili from a fatal wound he has. I enjoyed that scene where we see Glóin’s family album once he’s being searched by Legolas. There’s his wife and there’s his son Gimli. 😀
Mark Hadlow returns as Dori, Jed Brophy returns as Nori and Adam Brown returns as Ori. The dwarves do have a pretty rough time in this movie, especially with getting caught by the Mirkwood Elves in the Mirkwood Forest as well as having piles of fish poured onto them in barrels by Bard. Very nasty!
William Kircher returns as Bifur, James Nesbit returns as Bofur and Stephen Hunter returns as Bombur in the film. Bifur still talks in Dwarfish; Bofur looks out for Bilbo at times and Bombur fights orcs in a barrel during a very exciting rapids escape chase. Bombur still doesn’t speak though.
The main star of course is Martin Freeman who returns as Bilbo Baggins. By this stage in the adventure, Bilbo is more confident with the dwarves. He does use his new ring to help him rescue the dwarves as well as fighting spiders in the Mirkwood Forest. But could this ring easily corrupt him?
Ian McKellen returns as Gandalf the Grey in the movie. For this film, Gandalf becomes concerned about the Quest to Erebor. This is especially when a great evil lurks nearby. Gandalf soon leaves Thorin’s company as he has to go and sort something out. He soon visits Dol Guldur where the evil is.
In the dangerous Wilderland, the Company of Thorin meet Mikael Persbrandt as Beorn who is a skin-changer. Beorn can change himself into a large, ferocious black bear. It turns out Beorn doesn’t like dwarves very much. But he hates orcs more and helps the Company of Thorin with what they need.
Eventually, Thorin’s company enters the mysterious Mirkwood Forest where elves also dwell there. Unlike the forests of Lothlórien and Fangorn in ‘LOTR’, Mirkwood is dark and dangerous. An evil sickness hangs over the forest and there are some scary, evil giant spiders that attack our company.
The dwarves soon get rescued by the elves of Mirkwood. But the dwarves aren’t warmly welcomed by the elves of Mirkwood. There’s been this history of enmity between the two races since the fall of Erebor where the elves have put the blame on the dwarves and the dwarves put the blame on the elves.
Lee Pace stars as King Thranduil of the Woodland Realm of Mirkwood. Unlike Elrond and Galadriel, Thranduil is a cold-hearted and selfish Elvenking. He refused to help the Dwarves when Erebor fell during Smaug’s attack. He also desires some white jewels from Erebor which the elves were offered.
Orlando Bloom stars as Legolas, the son of Thranduil. Legolas is a fine archer of the Woodland Elves and he doesn’t like dwarves very much. It was very interesting to see who Legolas was before he became the hero elf he would become in ‘LOTR’. Will he have more compassion than his father has?
Evangeline Lilly stars as Tauriel, the elf chief warrior of Mirkwood. Tauriel is a character created for ‘The Hobbit’ films and didn’t feature in any books by Tolkien. She is a fine elven lady warrior and seems a perfect match for Legolas. But Tauriel has romantic feelings for Kili the dwarf when they meet.
Eventually, Bilbo rescues Thorin and the dwarves from their captivity in Mirkwood. They escape the elves and a party of orcs chasing after them down a river. They soon meet up with Luke Evans as Bard the Bargeman, who takes them to his home in Lake-Town. They have to sneak in order to reach Erebor.
Bard the Bargeman is a family man. He has three children, including his son Bain and his two daughters Sigrid and Tilda. Bard is a heroic man, but hides a secret concerning his ancestry from Dale. He also gets hunted by the Master of Lake-Town and Alfrid who are disapproving of his heroic deeds.
Lake-Town is the world of men in the northern parts of Middle-Earth. The people there live in a damp town on a lake that is in rather poor conditions. This is despite the commercial activity that occurs there. The people are unhappy with the way the leadership is handled by their Master of Lake-Town.
Stephen Fry stars as the Master of Lake-Town. I’ve seen Stephen Fry in ‘Jeeves & Wooster’. He’s a grotesque politician and a bad ruler. He’s power-hungry and he with Ryan Gage as Alfrid, his advisor (who I’ve met in Glasgow 2019) want to get rid of Bard since he’s opposed to their running of things.
Meanwhile, Tauriel follows the trail of the orcs and the dwarves before Legolas catches up with her. He encourages her to return to the elven palace, but she’s very insistent to continue onward to find the dwarves and the orcs. She’s concerned about Kili, who was shot with evil poison by an orc arrow.
Elsewhere with Gandalf, he meets up with Sylvester McCoy as Radagast the Brown. This is when they go to Dol Guldur. There, the orcs led by Azog gather there and a terrible evil brews. Gandalf goes to find out why this is happening. But Radagast leaves him since Sylvester went off to do ‘The Five(ish) Doctors Reboot’. 😀
Gandalf gets more than he bargained for, since he comes up face-to-face with the Necromancer. The Necromancer was believed to be a human, shadowy sorcerer at first. His true identity gets revealed in the film. I was shocked by the Necromancer’s true identity as I didn’t expect to see it while watching the film.
The leader of the orcs of course is Azog the Defiler. Azog is a tall, pale orc who is pretty vicious. He wants to have Thorin’s head, but Azog serves the Necromancer and gets ordered to lead an army of orcs to Erebor. Azog sends his son Bolg in his place to hunt down the dwarves heading off for Erebor.
After receiving their ‘warm’ welcome by the people of Lake-Town, Thorin’s company soon leave and head for Erebor. The dwarves have to arrive by the end of Durin’s Day, which is the dwarves’ New Year, in order to enter Erebor via a secret door. They do this by using a map they have been given.
Bilbo, Thorin, Balin, Dwalin, Glóin, Dori, Nori, Ori, Bifur and Bombur head off for Erebor whilst Kili is made to stay behind in Lake-Town by Thorin. Kili gets increasingly ill and his brother Fili stays behind with him as well as Óin and Bofur. The four Dwarves ask for help from Bard and his family since Kili is ill.
Meanwhile, the dwarves led by Thorin have to find the hidden door to enter Erebor with their map and to follow the words of some moon runes on it. They need the ‘last light’ of Durin’s Day to shine onto the door before they can enter inside. I was impressed by what the ‘last light’ turned out to be.
Incidentally, a prophecy was foretold of the dwarves’ return to Erebor by the people of Lake-Town. Once the dwarves’ home get reclaimed, Thorin promised Lake-Town’s people that he will share Erebor’s treasure with them. But it seems Thorin might not keep the promise when he gets gold-hungry.
Getting inside Erebor happens to be easy as Bilbo and the dwarves found out. But the dangerous part of their mission is about to take place. Bilbo is chosen as the dwarves’ burglar. Thus he has to find the dwarf king’s white jewel called the Arkenstone, hidden among a gigantic pile of treasure in Erebor.
Finding the Arkenstone isn’t easy. Bilbo has to look through the pile of treasure in order to find it. Add to that, he has to avoid waking up Smaug the dragon who lies underneath the treasure. I wonder how long Smaug has been sleeping underneath that pile of treasure. Unfortunately, Bilbo wakes him up.
Smaug the Magnificent is performed by Benedict Cumberbatch (of ‘Sherlock’ fame). Smaug the dragon is pretty amazing and terrifying to see. The CGI for Smaug is awe-inspiring, especially when I saw him on the big screen. The voice Benedict Cumberbatch provides for Smaug is also pretty terrifying.
Dragons can be terrifying creatures, especially when they’re greedy for treasure. Not sure why dragons are greedy for treasure, but there you are. As Bilbo tries to avoid being seen, Smaug can easily smell him. Trying to kill off Smaug the Dragon isn’t going to be easy, since his skin is made of iron.
The film ends on a pretty dramatic cliffhanger. I didn’t see this coming. 😀 Bilbo, Thorin and the dwarves try to tame Smaug within Erebor. But Smaug soon goes into a rage and he flies out of Erebor to attack Lake-Town and its people. When the film ended on that particular note, I was pretty gobsmacked. 😀
The special features for ‘The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug’ on ‘The Hobbit’/’The Lord of the Rings’ 30-disc Blu-ray set are as follows. On Disc 5, there’s the extended edition of ‘The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug’. There’s also the filmmakers’ audio commentary with director/writer/producer Peter Jackson and writer/co-producer Philippa Boyens. There’s also the ‘New Zealand: Home of Middle-Earth – Part 2’ behind-the-scenes featurette.
On Disc 6, there are special features from the original theatrical Blu-ray release. This includes the ‘Peter Jackson Invites You To The Set’ featurette which includes ‘In the Company of the Hobbit’ and ‘All in a Day’s Work’. There’s also the ‘I See Fire’ music video with Ed Sheeran; the ‘Live Event: In The Cutting Room’ featurette; the 4 production videos; 3 trailers for the movie, including one for ‘The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey’ Extended Edition and 2 game trailers.
On Disc 7, there are ‘The Appendices Part 9: Into The Wilderland: The Chronicles of the Hobbit – Part 2’. These cover the making of ‘The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug’ from book to screen, including plenty of documentaries. There’s the opening; ‘A Warm Welcome – Lake-Town’, ‘Business of the State – The Master’s Chambers’, ‘Shelter on the Long Lake – Bard’s House’, ‘In The Halls of the Elvenking – The Woodland Realm’, ‘Flies and Spiders – Mirkwood Forest’, ‘Queer Lodgings – Beorn’s House’, ‘On the Doorstep – The Lonely Mountain’, ‘Inside Information – Smaug’s Lair’, ‘Down the Swift Dark Stream – The Forest River’, ‘Barrels out of Bond – The Elven Sluice’, ‘A Chance Meeting – Bree’, ‘Erebor Rekindled – The Dwarf-Forges’, ‘…Into the Fire’ and the credits.
On Disc 8, there are ‘The Appendices Part 10: The Journey To Erebor’. They focus on the characters and places in ‘The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug’. There’s ‘Summoning Smaug: Last of the Fire-Drakes’ which contains three documentaries including ‘The Last and First Dragon’, ‘Conversations with Smaug’ and ‘Into the Dragon’s Lair’. There’s ‘The People and Denizens of Middle-Earth’ which contains three documentaries including ‘Beorn: The Shape-Shifter’, ‘The Spawn of the Ungoliant’ and ‘The Men of Lake-Town’. There’s the ‘Realms of the Third Age: From Beorn’s House to Lake-Town’ which contains four documentaries including ‘Beorn’s House’, ‘Mirkwood Forest’, ‘The Woodland Realm’ and ‘Lake-Town’. And there’s ‘The Music of the Hobbit’ which has three documentaries including ‘Overture: Music of the Wilderland’, ‘1st Movement: The World of Men’ and ‘2nd Movement: In the Halls of Erebor’. The disc ends with the credits.
‘The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug’ is an amazing, action-packed instalment in ‘The Hobbit’ film trilogy. I’ve enjoyed watching these films so far and it’s great to explore more of Middle-Earth in the places that I’ve never discovered before. This is clearly a bolder ‘Hobbit’ film compared to the first one.
I was looking forward to what would happen next in ‘The Hobbit’ film trilogy. I couldn’t believe I had to wait a year to find out what would happen next to Lake-Town when Smaug attacked it. What would happen next?! Will our heroes survive another day? And will Bilbo return home once the adventure is over?
‘The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug’ rating – 8/10
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