The Hobbit: Desolation of Smaug – Review

Hobbits, Dwarves, and Elves, oh my!

movies-the-hobbit-desolation-of-smaug-posterGeneral Information

Directed by Peter Jackson

Full Cast and Crew on IMDB

The Premise

Bilbo and company, having traveled over and under the Misty Mountains, find themselves having to cross through Mirkwood Forest. Along the way, they have to deal with spiders, wood elves, the people of Laketown and, finally, Smaug himself.

High Points

  • Smaug himself. Amazing effects and performance combine into a truly frightening experience.
  • Thorin’s desire for the Arkenstone. It’s a great parallel to Bilbo/Frodo and the Ring.
  • While I will bag on it in the next section, the action sequences are fun. Several parts are laugh-out-loud fun.
  • I really liked Tauriel’s addition to the story. Tolkien does many things well, writing women is not one of them.

Low Points

  • Some of the padding doesn’t work. The one that I noticed the most was Laketown. I get where it’s nice to build up Bard’s character more than what we got in the book (where he just shows up and saves the day).
  • The action, while fun, is bordering on cartoonish. The barrel run and the fight inside Erebor are long, complex, well-choreographed sequences, but they’re strain plausibility (even in this setting).


Originality has to suffer, being an adaptation, however, Jackson injects new pieces into the tale to make is something different. 4/6.

The story is, by and large, engaging. The one thing that gets annoying is that everyone has to tell Thorin what a bad idea this is. We get it. We got it in the first film. Fourteen half-sized men going into a deserted mountain to take on a dragon is crazy. He knows it. 4/6

Effects are spot on, as usual, with WETA. Smaug is, simply put, the best on-screen dragon we have to date. 6/6

 Emotional Response was good. I laughed at the funny parts, was unnerved by the spiders, and was genuinely awed by Smaug. Then there was the very end that elicited a collected “Arrgh!!!” from the audience. It’s nothing Jackson did wrong, he got us. He got us all and guaranteed that I would be buy a ticket this time next year for the finale. 5/6

Production is one of the things that WETA deserves a lifetime achievement for. The detail work from the effects, to the costumes, to the weapons is staggering. 6/6

Acting is, again, good. It takes a back seat in this film to the action, however. Martin Freeman, once again, steals the show. It’s his non-verbals that are fantastic. With a face or a gesture he evokes so much. 5/6

Overall, if you’re unable to let go of the original story or unwilling to accept the over-the-top action sequences, you’re probably not going to enjoy yourself. Otherwise, for myself, it’s a blast to sit through. It’s Middle Earth, just like we’ve seen it before, and it’s pure movie-going fun. 6/6

Total: 36 out of 42


As with Part One, I saw this in the 2D, 24fps format. I could tell there were a fair number of 3D gags built in (bees, arrows, swords, and whatnot coming at the audience) but I just don’t see how that helps the film in any substantive way.

I did, however, get to see this at our new Alamo theater and I must give them kudos. Very nice venue, clearly staffed and designed by movie lovers. The pre-show was a hoot and the absolutely, positively, no texting and talking rule was awesome.

6 replies on “The Hobbit: Desolation of Smaug – Review”

  1. There was a really huge amount of Not In The Book in this one. But that’s ok.

    The dragon was fantastic… SFX and voice acting-wise. They… kinda made him a bit incompetent. Then again I don’t know that I would do any better if I just woke up. Might’ve been my imagination but did they actually make him look a bit like Benedict Whatchabatch?

    Also, was this one not done in HFR? I thought they shot all three at the same time, and since the first one was available in HFR, the next ones would be, too.

    • Definitely agree with Smaug’s incompetence. It was pretty sad how he could smell/hear them when it was useful and not when the writers wanted the heroes to escape. :-\ He also seemed to only breath fire when they always had a way out and not when they had no way to escape…

      (Personally, I’m kind tired of Peter Jackson’s zombie fetish. That’s probably just me, though. ;-)

      On HFR, I believe it’s dependent on the theaters having the hardware. It was released on it, but not all theaters have invested in the systems.

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