Peter Jackson is back at doing what does best: transforming Tolkien's Middle Earth stories into the big screen. The entire crew of dwarves, one istari, and an unlikely hobbit are back and this time, they finally get to meet their target up close: the mighty dragon Smaug. The Hobbit 2: The Desolation of Smaug balances book adaptation, terrific cinematography, LOTR-trilogy foreshadowing, and plenty of well intended creative liberties in order to deliver an even bigger visual punch. The big question is: did Jackson succeed? Or will more fans continue to complain about his 'alterations' like they did with Radagast's rabbits in the previous film?
Sure, one can easily talk about the sequel to The Hobbit without spoiling the story, but there are simply too much fun stuff in the details that have to said. While we certainly will not be telling you how this movie ends, do know that we'll be bringing up some rather exciting scenes.
Change is Good
There are plenty of exciting (and hair raising events in the original books), many of which already translate well to the big screen. But while there is a saying that "sometimes, less is more", we have to remember the key word there: sometimes. Because most of the time, more simply means more; and this sequel delivers more of the good stuff.
The film opens up rather slowly, with Gandalf and Thorin meeting up for the first time in a pub that comes right out of the generic fantasy pub catalog (then again, it was Tolkien who made the mold). But fret not, the movie picks up pretty quickly as the Dwarves try to get around the mountains stealthily (oh are they glad to have Bilbo now!), eventually end up meeting with a wide range of fantastical creatures (hello Beorn!), and also, we get to see the orcish hierarchy in action (and they fact that they love to tag walls with black speech –punks not dead!).
There's plenty of time devoted to Gandalf's quest to figure out if the Nazgul are indeed back. Once again, the seventh Doctor, Radagast is back to help him sort things out. Galadriel is as cryptic as ever with her odd psychic-vision messages, but fans of the original trilogy will certainly appreciate the additional cameo.
Speaking of cameos, yes folks, the publicity photos and posters to do not lie: Legolas is "back" in this film (even though the much-fangirled giant elephant slayer had nothing to do with the original Hobbit books); he is also accompanied by Turiel, and all new character invented for the film. This is probably that bit that plenty of purists will cry foul on since it changes the known history for an established character. But with their addition also means the inclusion of an all new dwarves in barrels rolling down a river scene. Which, despite being a pretty long sequence, has to be one of the most outstandingly well choreographed fantasy-themed fight scene ever. The action in this scene is nothing short of ridiculous and over-the-top, and we loved every second of it.
Dragons, Gold, and a Lot of Nitpicking
Surprisingly, the bit that most folks are talking about is not the inclusion of an all new character or the inclusion of Legolas, but rather, the final sequence of the dwarves and Smaug in the end of the movie. In the original books, it was only Bilbo who directly encounters Smaug in the lair. In the film, the dwarves decide to be a lot more useful by actually helping Bilbo out.
The entire sequence becomes a well orchestrated attempt to get Smaug to light up the Dwarven furnaces with his dragon fire, stall for a bit, and when it is ready, pour molten gold on the dragon. It was certainly fun to watch, but some folks are crying foul on the idea that the Dwarves managed such a feat.
Sure, there's plenty to be said about heat, melting points, and other details, but we also got to see Thorin being wicked cool and awesome right on Smaug's fiery maw. It may not be a scene in the original book, but we're pretty sure that if Tolkien saw it, he'd be impressed