The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug (2013)

Screen Shot 2013-12-18 at 8.24.21 PMStarring: Martin Freeman, Richard Armitage, Ian McKellen, Evangeline Lilly, Orlando Bloom, Luke Evans, Lee Pace, Benedict Cumberbatch

Directed by: Peter Jackson

PG-13. 161 mins

Slightly better than it’s predecessor, the middle chapter of the Hobbit trilogy still feels just as unnecessary as the first. Moving at a glacial place, the adventure continues as Bilbo Baggins (Martin Freeman), Gandalf the Grey (Ian McKellan) and 13 Dwarves led by Thorin Oakenshield (Richard Armitage) continue on their quest to reclaim the lost Dwarf Kingdom of Erebor. Of course, they will have to evade the elves, orcs and Smaug the fire-breathing dragon (voiced by Benedict Cumberbatch) in order to complete their quest.

While the characters deliver some charming moments and magical action, not to the titular dragon, the entire series just isn’t all that interesting. The thirteen dwarves are forgettable and Bilbo lacks the complexity that made Frodo such a compelling hero in the Lord of the Rings franchise. The villains aren’t all that menacing and the action feels like a series of stunts that have no real life or death consequences. And worse, the plot feels recycled – Gandalf and the dwarves separate, both parties get into trouble and, once again, Bilbo uses the power of the ring to save his comrades from a ravenous web of spiders. Clearly, what could have been one film is being stretched into three bloated features that pale in comparison to Jackson’s formidable Lord of the Rings trilogy.

Thankfully, Orlando Bloom’s Legolas and a new character, Tauriel (Evengeline Lilly) provide some interest, though their characters aren’t even in Tolkien’s novel. Overall, the dialogue leaves much to be desired and while the panoramic views are stunning, it only adds to the sensation that this is some sort of parody rather than a fully-realized story with a soul. The pace quickens with the introduction of Smaug, but unfortunately that comes about half way through the three hour exercise. While it offers a few delights for both fans and newcomers, The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug is a chaotic, tiring letdown whose excess is rarely engaging.

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