‘THE HOBBIT: THE DESOLATION OF SMAUG’
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The Adventure Continues
This review is for my best mate from school, Stephen.
After enjoying seeing ‘The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey’ at the cinema in 2012, I was looking forward to seeing the second film ‘The Desolation of Smaug’ at the cinema in 2013. I wondered what was going to happen next with the Quest for Erebor and what will happen to Bilbo and the company.
I went to see this film, as I did with the first film, twice at the cinema. The first time was with my best mate Stephen from school and then with my parents. Seeing these ‘Hobbit’ movies on the big screen was an amazing experience and I didn’t know what was coming as I saw this film from start to finish.
Here’s the story so far. Bilbo Baggins the hobbit leaves his home in 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 and where the deserted city of Dale lies. It is the area where Smaug made his attack 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 Desolation of Smaug’ was originally released on DVD and Blu-ray on 1 disc. I didn’t purchase the original DVD, as I wanted to have the five-disc Extended Edition as it contained new extra footage and 9 hours of special features. I purchased this Extended DVD Edition in Brighton, November 2014.
That was when I attended the ‘Doctor Who’ convention ‘Timey Wimey 1’ in Brighton at the same time. Like before with the first Extended Edition of ‘The Hobbit’ movie, there is sadly no information booklet. Thankfully there is an introduction given to the DVD, which you can find inside the box set.
‘The Desolation of Smaug’ is divided into two parts with Part 1 on Disc 1 and Part 2 on Disc 2. Discs 3; 4 and 5 contain ‘The Appendices’ which are ‘making-of’ documentaries and extra material on the making of the film. I don’t think ‘The Hobbit’ Appendices are as good as ‘The Lord of the Rings’ ones.
DISC 1 + DISC 2 – EXTENDED EDITION
I liked the movie’s opening flashback scene that takes place in Bree set before ‘The Hobbit’ begins, twelve months earlier. It features Gandalf and Thorin and it was thrilling to revisit Bree from ‘LOTR’.
The Company of Thorin are now entering into the dangerous Wilderland, where they don’t know what to expect. From the Carrock, they are hunted by Orcs and also see something that’s like a bear.
Richard Armitage returns as Thorin Oakenshield. Thorin has become interesting by this stage of the story, as his decisions are questioned as to whether he is worthy to take back the kingdom of Erebor.
Ken Stott and Graham McTavish return as Balin and Dwalin. It’s interesting to see how Balin is more the negotiator of the Company of Thorin whilst Dwalin is a fighter and doesn’t really have a soft side.
Aidan Turner and Dean O’Gorman return as Kili and Fili. I like Kili’s story in this movie, especially as he develops some romantic feelings for the Elf lady warrior Tauriel. It is rather sweet between them.
John Callen and Peter Hambleton return as Oin and Gloin. Oin gets to be a healer when he tries to cure Kili of a fatal wound and I liked that scene when we see Gloin’s family album with his son Gimli.
Mark Hadlow, Jed Brophy and Adam Brown return as Dori, Nori and Ori. The dwarves have pretty rough time, with being caught by Mirkwood Elves and having piles of fish poured on them in barrels.
William Kircher, James Nesbit and Stephen Hunter return as Bifur, Bofur and Bombur. Bifur still talks in dwarfish; Bofur looks out for Bilbo and Bombur fights orcs in a barrel during a rapids escape chase.
Martin Freeman returns as Bilbo Baggins. Bilbo is more confident by this stage in his adventure with the Dwarves. He uses his new ring to help him rescue the Dwarves, but this could easily corrupt him.
Ian McKellen returns as Gandalf the Grey. Gandalf is concerned about this quest, especially as a great evil lurks nearby. Gandalf soon leaves Thorin’s Company and sorts something with Dol Guldur.
In the Wilderland, the Company of Thorin meet Mikael Persbrandt as Beorn, a skin-changer. He can change himself into a ferocious bear. He doesn’t like dwarves so much, but he hates orcs most of all.
Soon Thorin’s Company enters the forest of Mirkwood where elves live too. Mirkwood is dark and dangerous, as a sickness hangs over the forest. There also are giant spiders that attack the company.
The dwarves are soon rescued by the elves of Mirkwood. But the dwarves are not warmly welcomed by these elves, as there has been a history of enmity between the two races since the fall of Erebor.
Lee Pace stars as King Thranduil of the Woodland Realm of Mirkwood. Thranduil is a cold-hearted and selfish Elvenking, who refused to help the dwarves when Erebor fell and he wants his white jewels.
Orlando Bloom stars as Legolas, son of Thranduil. Legolas is a fine archer of the Woodland elves and he doesn’t like dwarves. It was interesting to see Legolas before he starred in ‘The Lord of the Rings’.
Evangeline Lilly stars as Tauriel, the Elf chief of Mirkwood. Tauriel is a fine Elven lady warrior and a perfect match for Legolas. But Tauriel has these romantic feelings for Kili the dwarf when they meet.
Bilbo soon rescues Thorin and the dwarves, as they escape Mirkwood and a party of orcs. They soon meet up with Bard the Bargeman, who takes them off to his home in Lake-Town, which ends Disc 1.
Disc 2 begins with Tauriel following 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 very insistent to continue onward.
Meanwhile, Bilbo and the dwarves find themselves in Lake-Town. This is the world of men as people live in a dank town on a lake and are in poor conditions despite the commercial activity that goes on.
Stephen Fry (from ‘Jeeves and Wooster’) stars as the Master of Lake-Town. He’s a grotesque politician who is a bad ruler. He’s greedy for power and wants to get rid of Bard who opposes to him.
Luke Evans stars as Bard the Bargeman. Bard is a family man of three children, who helps the dwarves to sneak into Lake-Town. Bard is a heroic man, but hides this secret concerning his ancestry.
With Gandalf, he meets up with Sylvester McCoy as Radagast the Brown when going to Dol Guldur. There the orcs gather and a terrible evil brews. Gandalf goes to find out why this is happening there.
Gandalf gets more than he bargained for, as he comes face-to-face with the Necromancer. The Necromancer was believed to a human shadowy sorcerer. His true identity gets revealed in this film.
The leader of the orcs is Azog the Defiler. Azog is a tall, pale orc who is pretty vicious and wants to have Thorin’s head. Azog serves the Necromancer and is ordered to lead an army of orcs for Erebor.
After receiving a ‘warm’ welcome by the people of Lake-Town, Thorin’s Company soon leaves and heads off for Erebor. They have to arrive by the end of Durin’s Day (the dwarves’ New Year) to enter.
Kili is made to stay behind in Lake-Town by Thorin, as he turns out to be ill. Fili; Oin and Bofur stay behind with Kili, as Bilbo; Thorin; Balin; Dwalin; Gloin; Dori; Nori; Ori; Bifur and Bombur go to Erebor.
The dwarves have to find a hidden door to enter Erebor with a map and follow the words of some moon runes. They need the ‘last light’ of Durin’s Day to shine onto the door before they enter inside.
A prophecy was foretold of the dwarves’ return to Erebor by the people of Lake-Town. Once the dwarves’ home is reclaimed, Thorin promises Lake-Town’s people that he’ll share Erebor’s treasure.
Getting inside Erebor is easy, but the dangerous part of the mission is about to take place. Bilbo is chosen as the dwarves’ burglar as he has to find the dwarf king’s white jewel called the Arkenstone.
Finding the Arkenstone isn’t easy, as Bilbo has to look through a pile of treasure in order to find it. Add to that, he has to avoid waking Smaug the dragon lying beneath the treasure, to which he does.
Smaug the Magnificent is performed by Benedict Cumberbatch (from ‘Sherlock’). Smaug the dragon is pretty amazing and terrifying, as the CGI for Smaug was awe-inspiring when I saw it at the cinema.
Dragons are terrifying creatures and they get no more terrifying than Smaug. Smaug is greedy for treasure and can smell Bilbo the burglar when he tries to hide from him. His skin is also made of iron.
The film ends on a cliff-hanger, which I didn’t see coming. Thorin and the dwarves try to tame Smaug within Erebor. But Smaug goes in a rage and flies out of Erebor to attack Lake-Town and its people…
TO BE CONTINUED…
The DVD special features of ‘The Desolation of Smaug’ are as follows. On Discs 1 and 2, there’s the filmmakers’ commentary with director/writer/producer Peter Jackson and producer/writer Philippa Boyens. On Disc 1, there’s the ‘New Zealand: Home of Middle-Earth – Part 2’ featurette. Watching these behind-the-scenes featurettes on New Zealand with cast and crews interviews is a true treat.
DISCS 3 + 4 – THE APPENDICES PART 9 – INTO THE WILDERLAND: The Chronicles of the Hobbit – Part 2
Discs 3, 4 and 5 of the 5-disc DVD set of ‘The Desolation of Smaug’ are ‘The Appendices’. These cover the making of ‘The Desolation of Smaug’ from book to screen, including plenty of documentaries. The first disc and the first half of the second disc (Discs 3 & 4) of these Appendices cover the filming of the film.
On Disc 3, there isn’t an introduction given by Peter Jackson as that was given on the ‘An Unexpected Journey’ DVD. I miss those introductions for every DVD when it was ‘The Lord of the Rings’ movies. There’s still a ‘PLAY ALL’ option that allows you to watch the making-of documentaries on this disc.
‘The Chronicles of the Hobbit – Part 2’ includes an 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 Lodings – Beorn’s House’; ‘On the Doorstep – The Lonely Mountain’; ‘Inside Information – Smaug’s Lair’, ‘Down the Swift Dark Stream – The Forest River’ and Credits.
On Disc 4, there is a ‘PLAY ALL’ option that allows you to watch all the documentaries on this disc.
‘The Chronicles of the Hobbit – Part 2’ continue with ‘Barrels out of Bond – The Elven Sluice’; ‘A Chance Meeting – Bree’; ‘Erebor Rekindled – The Dwarf-Forges’ and ‘…Into the Fire’.
DISCS 4 + 5 – THE APPENDICES PART 10 –THE JOURNEY TO EREBOR
The second-half of the second disc and the third disc (Discs 4 & 5) of these ‘Appendices’ focuses on the characters in ‘The Desolation of Smaug’.
On Disc 4, there are two sections which are ‘Summoning Smaug: Last of the Fire-Drakes’ and ‘The Music of the Hobbit’.
The ‘Summoning Smaug: Last of the Fire-Drakes’ section has three documentaries. They include ‘The Last and First Dragon’; ‘Conversations with Smaug’ and ‘Into The Dragon’s Lair’.
‘The Music of the Hobbit’ section has three documentaries. They include ‘Overture: Music of the Wilderland’; ‘1st Movement: The World of Men’ and ‘2nd Movement: In the Halls of Erebor’.
On Disc 5, there is a ‘PLAY ALL’ option that allows you to watch all the documentaries on this disc.
There are two sections which are ‘The People and Denizens of Middle-Earth’ and ‘Realms of the Third Age: From Beorn’s House to Lake-Town’.
‘The People and Denizens of Middle-Earth’ section has three documentaries. They include ‘Beorn: The Shape-Shifter’; ‘The Spawn of the Ungoliant’ and ‘The Men of Laketown’.
The ‘Realms of the Third Age: From Beorn’s House to Lake Town’ section has four documentaries. They include ‘Beorn’s House’; ‘Mirkwood Forest’; ‘The Woodland Realm’ and ‘Lake-Town’. The fifth disc ends with Credits.
TO BE CONTINUED…
The original 1-disc DVD of ‘The Desolation of Smaug’ doesn’t have any special features which is annoying for those who want the original theatrical version of the movie. The Blu-ray version of the original theatrical version has special features which is annoying for those who don’t have Blu-ray.
The Blu-ray of the original version of ‘The Desolation of Smaug’ has promotional special features including featurettes and trailers. They include the ‘New Zealand: Home of Middle-Earth – Part 2’ featurette that can also be found on Disc 1 of this extended edition as well as two trailers of the film.
There’s also the ‘Live Event: In the Cutting Room’ featurette; four production videos; the ‘Peter Jackson invites you to the set’ featurette; a ‘Lego Hobbit’ game trailer; a ‘Kingdoms of Middle-Earth’ trailer and a ‘Ed Sheeran – I See Fire’ music video.
‘The Desolation of Smaug’ has been an amazing, action-packed instalment to watch in ‘The Hobbit’ movie trilogy. I enjoyed watching these films and it’s great to explore more of the world of Middle-Earth in places I’ve never discovered before. It’s certainly a bolder movie compared to the first film.
I was looking to finding out what happens next in ‘The Hobbit’ trilogy. I couldn’t believe I had to wait for a year to find out what happens to Lake-Town when Smaug attacks it. What could happen next?! Will our heroes be able to survive another day? Will Bilbo return home once the adventure is ended?
‘The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug’ rating – 8/10
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