Some of you may know that I’m a Tolkiendil. (But only the some who have braved the storm of the LotR Blog Party this past week. [Y’all are awesome!])
Some of you may also know that I saw Desolation yesterday.
Some of you may know further more that I enjoyed it. MUCHLY.
Behold. My calm, spoiler-free review, with a very restrained amount of caps lock. (Yeah, it was hard.)
“”The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug” continues the adventure of the title character Bilbo Baggins as he journeys with the Wizard Gandalf and thirteen Dwarves, led by Thorin Oakenshield, on an epic quest to reclaim the Lonely Mountain and the lost Dwarf Kingdom of Erebor.
Having survived the beginning of their unexpected journey, the Company travels East, encountering along the way the skin-changer Beorn and a swarm of giant Spiders in the treacherous forest of Mirkwood. After escaping capture by the dangerous Wood-elves, the Dwarves journey to Lake-town, and finally to the Lonely Mountain itself, where they must face the greatest danger of all – a creature more terrifying than any other; one which will test not only the depth of their courage but the limits of their friendship and the wisdom of the journey itself – The Dragon Smaug.” (from the official website)
Yeah, that’s basically it. We missed the first fifteen minutes due to traffic on our way to the theater, so I didn’t see Beorn (argh). The rest of the movie was basically the above, with a lot of fighting, “very important dialogue,” and character-building. Desolation was most definitely a lot more tense than An Unexpected Journey, with an action level of Two Towers.
The Characters and Cast
Bilbo Baggins is a very likeable little hobbit. He’s been dragged from his comfortable home and taken on this wild adventure. When we meet him again in Desolation, he’s changed. He’s slowly gone from wanting to turn around because he forgot his pocket handkerchief to being able to battle spiders and, hello, talk to a very fierce dragon. He’s a little dim-witted at times (the beginning of the barrel scene, anyone?), but he is slowly embracing the Took side of himself and becoming more of a persevering warrior and leader, like Thorin.
And there’s not much to say about Martin Freeman… other than the fact that he has done it again. He’s portrayed Bilbo with perfection and knows his character very well, never going overboard with either Bilbo’s timid side, nor his brave side. My favorite part was when the gold starts shifting and he realizes that, good gracious, the dragon is alive. He just sits down in the gold, trying to make himself as small as possible. So funny!
Thorin Oakenshield is the leader of the Company and the rightful King under the Mountain. He’s eager to get back his kingdom and will stop at basically nothing to reclaim his homeland and take back Erebor.
Richard Armitage clearly knows what he’s doing. I watched an interview where he explained that he had written things about Thorin’s backstory, not for publication or anything, but so that he can understand his character better. It definitely shows. He adds so much depth to Thorin’s character, it’s astounding.
Tauriel comes next, because she’s the new addition to the cast of characters. And, boy, is she amazing! A warrior elf, but not without a feminine side. She is made aware by Thranduil (wonderfully and somewhat creepily portrayed by Lee Pace) that his son, Legolas, loves her. Kili also loves her. (For all who are worried and nervous, this is as far as the love triangle goes.) And, hey, who doesn’t like her? She’s strong-willed and brave, not to mention a wonderful shot. Another aspect of her character is made known, but I won’t go into that because, ya know, spoilers.
Evangeline Lily played Tauriel, and did a great job making her fierce, yet gentle and feminine. I really enjoyed Tauriel and can’t wait to see what happens to her in There and Back Again. (I’ve already been speculating with friends and family about this…. We shall see.)
Gandalf is the same old Wizard we’ve known since LotR and Journey. In Desolation, he guides the Company as far as Mirkwood, then leaves on business. In the book, we don’t know what his business is and have to be content with that. In Desolation, Peter Jackson and his League of Awesome People have expounded on the story, explaining where Gandalf has gone and how his “business” ties into the events circling around LotR.
Ian McKellan again portrays Gandalf very well. (It’s always fun to see him in a different role and say, “Hey, it’s Chauvelin!”) Without going into much detail, Gandalf has his own action scenes and it’s evident that McKellan worked very hard on making the fighting seem life-like.
SMAUG. The creepiest part of the entire movie was the last half, during which Smaug was a key character. He was massive and scary and everything a dragon needs to be! (And, no, I am not going to put a picture of him because, duuuuh, that’d ruin it for you. There are a few pictures online if you must see them – look elsewhere.)
Benedict Cumberbatch did a wonderful job voicing Smaug (and the Necromancer), but you couldn’t reeeeeally tell that it was him because his voice was altered slightly to make it deeper and fit Smaug a little more. Still, it sounded like a jaguar hiding in a cello. (And it was suuuuper cool to “see” Ben and Martin on the same screen once more.)
Kili – He’s got a much bigger role in this movie, which, no doubt, has further endeared him to those who became fans of him during Journey. Sadly, I can’t say anything other than that without ruining half of the movie.
Balin – I was really glad to see that PJ stayed true to the book and had him encourage Bilbo right before he went to get the Arkenstone.
Legolas – He’s back. Considering it’s ten years later, post-Pirates and whatever else Orlando Bloom has been in, Legolas is played much better and, at sixty years younger, he’s a much better fighter. The shield-slide at Helm’s Deep ain’t nothin’ compared to some of the awesome moves he pulls in Desolation.
And all the other dwarves were amazing yet again. : )
Also, the end credits song is… awesome.
As I said before, this is definitely a ton creepier and more intense than Journey. I was the only person in my family to watch the whole thing without covering my eyes. Spiders jump out at you, the orcs are as creepy as ever, and the battle scenes are pretty gory. There was also one minor crude joke that I thought could have been left out. For more details, see the PluggedIn review. (However, there are a lot of spoilers in the review, so only read it if you feel like you need to.)
The Bottom Line
I read several reviews that made me a little hesitant to see it, but I thought, “Hey, it’s Tolkien and PJ. It’s bound to be good.” I ignored the evil reviewers and saw the movie with friends (which is always the best!). And I’m really, reeeeeeally glad I saw it. My siblings and I can’t stop talking about how amazing it was. Even though, yes, we do talk about the parts we thought were slightly “off-the-book,” we still always end with, “It was sooooo amazing!” And I’ll definitely be seeing it again in the theater – to watch the first fifteen minutes and for that great feeling of being unable to breathe while certain things happen to a certain character. And we’re still talking about how insane the cliffhanger at the end is. *exasperated sigh* Now we have to wait a “whole ‘nother year” to see There and Back Again. Argh.
So here’s the bottom line: If you’re even a teeeeny fan of Tolkien and liked Journey and LotR…
GO SEE IT!!! (Whoops. There goes that pesky caps lock. Oh, well.)