Smaug-asbord of Middle Earth goodness

Jasmine Burke gets her latest fix of a Tolkien classic screen adaption, reviewing The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug.

Promotion artwork for The Hobbit film

The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug is the second instalment in a trilogy of films adapting Tolkien’s timeless 1937 literary masterpiece. The film continues the epic adventures of Bilbo Baggins (Martin Freeman) as he journeys with the wizard Gandalf (Ian McKellen) and the thirteen dwarves, led by heir Thorin Oakenshield (Richard Armitage), continuing their quest to reclaim the lost Kingdom of Erebor.

Raking in $19.5 million dollars during its first week of release at the Australian box office, this middle chapter of the billion dollar franchise is easily better than its previous chapter An Unexpected Journey. Director Peter Jackson (The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey and the Lord of the Rings trilogy) goes all out as we adventure into uncharted Middle Earth territory and are introduced to entirely new characters and creatures.

The movie captures everything wonderful about Middle Earth, with no shortage of incredible design and special effects

If there is to be a negative about this newest instalment, it could be that if one was hoping for a close recount of the original story, you’ll be disappointed. The film is designed to be lightly based on the book, and at times stretches the plot to quite an extensive point. There are scenes with Gandalf (and an appearance of Sauron) that parallel The Hobbit to the Lord of the Rings, which may not be necessary as the novel follows Bilbo’s adventures, making such inclusions seem out of place. No major complaints on this end, though. The movie captures everything wonderful about Middle Earth, with no shortage of incredible design and special effects. While it is unlikely it will ever measure up to the original trilogy, Lord of the Rings, it still has the good vs. evil stuff down pat and the token hero (in this case, Bilbo) is growing even more as an easily loveable and unique character.

As far as character development goes, it’s much the same as the first film where our focus is on the main characters. Although this time around the dwarf Kili (Aidan Turner) is given some screen time to rise as an individual. This is likely a result of the love triangle forming between himself, Legolas (Orlando Bloom) and the new she-elf and orc-killing machine, Tauriel (Lost star Evangeline Lily), a creation of Jackson’s for the trilogy. While this may have been a risky idea considering the potential response of Tolkien fans, Tauriel seems to fit right into Middle Earth without a hitch.

Now, we’ve all seen onscreen dragons before, but this particular ‘serpent of the north’ takes the cake. Smaug (voiced by Benedict Cumbercatch) is an impeccable creation on viewing, and his arrogant personality adds to the magnificence of this film.

Image: hypable

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