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Peter Jacksons latest movie The Hobbit: Desolation of Smaug is the second part of a trilogy following the adventures of our pint sized hero, Bilbo Baggins, as he and a dozen dwarves try and free Middle Earth from the grasps of the great Dragon Smaug whilst reclaiming their ancient Dwarf halls and each gaining more treasure than you can fit into a hobbit hole thrown into the bargain.
Back in 2004 Peter Jackson won a record 11 Oscars for The Lord of the Rings: Return of the King and deservedly so! J.R.R. Tolkiens epic fantasy tale of the devastating power of a magical ring and a quest with Wizards, Hobbits, Elves, Dwarves, Orcs, Giant spiders and a host of other mythological creatures had long been considered impossible to make into a movie but Jackson further immortalised the books with an awe inspiring series of movies that condensed the lengthy books whilst remaining almost entirely faithful to the original vision of the author.
The same can’t really be said of the Hobbit movies so far – what is essentially a 300 page children’s book has been stretched out into 3 movies each almost three hours long, by the director who has taken huge artistic license by adding in completely new sub-plots to the original, some of which are drawn vaguely from Tolkien’s own writing whilst others are completely new.
Die-hard fans of the books may see this reworking as unfaithful to the original which has delighted readers for nearly a century now and I have to admit that the first movie, although thoroughly enjoyable, was a little confused and unnecessarily complicated after being given some heavy handed Hollywood treatment.
The second instalment of The Hobbit is, however, a big improvement. The characters separate during the storyline and the viewer starts to feel genuine involvement with individual members of the group. The action also becomes divided into separate parts, a trick which helps the movie to not drag. The Desolation of Smaug never feels as though it has a running time of two hours 41 minutes and left me at the end waiting impatiently for next year’s final chapter rather than thankful to have made it through the film, which is so often the case with ambitiously lengthy movies.
Martin Freeman has Bilbo’s sometimes witty, sometimes courageous and sometimes downright mischievous personality down to perfection throughout and he manages his characters development with consumate skill. The scenes with Bilbo and Smaug (voiced by Benedict Cumberbatch) are awesome while the great dragon himself is a sumptuous CGI creation that will make the hairs on the back of your neck stand on end.
Sir Ian McKellen once again makes the role of Gandalf the Grey his own bringing the Wizard to life in such a way that the late great J.R.R. Tolkien himself would have to applaud the pointy hatted, long bearded wise man. Actually the acting is solid all round with Orlando Bloom making a welcome return as Legolas and introducing Evangeline Lilly who is excellent as Tauriel, a she-elf fancied by both Dwarves and Elves.
All in all The Hobbit: Desolation of Smaug is this year’s must see Christmas blockbuster and one that deserves to be viewed on the big screen. The movie has superb effects and entertaining action coupled with a cliffhanger plot that will leave you eagerly anticipating the next installment. Peter Jackson has once again proved that him and Toliken go together like roast turkey and cranberry sauce or mince pies and cream. Christmas has definitely come a little early this year.
Star rating 4.5/5