Over 5 of the past 12 years, New Zealand director Peter Jackson has dominated the Christmas film calendar with his epic cinematic masterpieces with the record breaking The Lord of the Rings trilogy and King Kong. We are now enjoying The Hobbit trilogy as it follows confidently in the iconic footsteps of Jackson previous successes.
We first visited the fantastical land of Middle Earth in the film adaptation of the J. R. R. Tolkien books, The Lord of the Rings back in 2001. During the trilogy we were introduced to Hobbits, Orcs, Wizards, some truly spectacular New Zealand scenery and enormous battle scenes that were all drawn together with Peter and his team’s flawless film making talents. Offering us hints of how the ‘One Ring’ came to find home in the hands of a gentle hobbit, The Lord of the Rings laid the foundation for Jackson’s latest trilogy, The Hobbit which serves as a prequel to the trilogy.
With the stage being set in the first of the Hobbit films last year, The Desolation of Smaug continues Bilbo’s quest to the former Dwarf kingdom of Erebor to retrieve the precious Arkenstone, an important white jewel that is hidden somewhere beneath the mountain kingdoms gold chamber and holds the key to uniting the dwarves against Smaug, a terrifying Dragon that has taken over the kingdom. Along the way the band of heroes encounters a plethora of obstacles including a skin-changing ‘Bear-man’, a group of giant spiders and of course, Orcs.
While The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey offered us an introduction to the hugely successful franchise that single handily put New Zealand on the international map, The Desolation of Smaug takes us deeper into the story of Bilbo and the heroic crusaders made up of Dwarves, Wizards and Elves as they make their journey toward the dwarf kingdom to reclaim their home and their freedom from the terrifying fire-breathing monster within.
While the adventure is perilous and the fellowship come up against life threatening obstacles along the way, the film taps on the door of comedy periodically in order to lighten the mood. This usually involves the height restricted and long bearded dwarves that help Bilbo in his quest to Erebor, adding fun and camaraderie to the quest. A full throttle Orc-vs-Dwarf-vs-Elf bloodbath involving the dwarves riding wooden wine barrels down a turbulent river as the gang flee the Elvish city was a notable scene within the film.
Like its predecessor and each of The Lord of the Rings films, The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug is a lengthy film, sitting at around 160 minutes but each of those minutes is filled with suspense, wonder and jaw-dropping visual effects that set the bar in film making and special effects just that extra bit higher.
The visuals are nothing short of spectacular here with many of the films highlights being the battle scenes that keep you on the edge of your seat and staring at the screen with pure admiration for the truly seamless effects, an area where Jackson and his Wingnut Films team have truly outdone themselves.
The cast that have been handpicked to create this new trilogy continue to perform brilliantly throughout this latest installment. I have to admit that prior to the release of the first film I was a little wary about Martin freeman taking on the role of the title character. I can’t say that I have been that impressed with his previous work and taking such an enormous role on his shoulders, I believed, was a little much to ask from the Brit but I have really been proved wrong so far as he is not just convincing as the Shire-plucked Hobbit Bilbo Baggins but he also compliments the role with charisma and the right amount of naivety.
During this latest installment we are introduced to a collection of new characters and some familiar faces from the Lord of the Rings trilogy including Orlando Bloom donning his bow and arrow in his role as Legolas as well as gorgeous newcomer, Evangeline Lilly who plays Logolas’ love interest, Tauriel. We also get a more thorough introduction to Sauron and the ‘eye’ during a gripping showdown with Galdalf.
The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug is an epic film with all of the big visual and special effects that you expect to come from a Peter Jackson cinema experience and he has truly outdone himself with this latest piece the cherished LOTR and Hobbit franchise and has hinted at enough to make us ache with anticipation for the final in the trilogy but we will have to (impatiently, if you are anything like me) wait until next December for the final piece in the J. R. R. Tolkien puzzle.
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