On the plus side, Peter Jackson probably knows the world of Middle-Earth just as well as Tolkien did at this point, and he brings it to life with all the wondrous beauty and vivid magic we’ve come to expect. This flick is gorgeous, especially on Blu-ray. Smaug himself, is a true triumph, both visually and conceptually. It wasn’t until the fourth Harry Potter film that dragons actually started looking real. Now I’m not trying to be a dick, I’m sure making them look the part isn’t easy, but it’s still the truth of the matter. I had no idea Smaug talked either—that is until early casting and promotional talk with Benedict Cumberbatch—which added a much needed depth to this character. A monster that can talk is always better than a monster who can’t. The new additions of Evangeline Lilly’s Tauriel, Beorn, and Bard (to name a couple) were very welcome. I would have loved to see and know more about Beorn, and Tauriel’s character seems destined to die, but other than that, they were perfect.
I say Tauriel seems destined to die because of the one fatal flaw of this film, and the trilogy as a whole: the fact they went backward. If THE HOBBIT films came out first, we’d have had a near perfect trilogy on our hands, but they didn’t. So suffice to say, the fact that Tauriel isn’t mentioned in LOTR, I have to assume she doesn’t make it. That said, neither is Legolas’ dad—a mega dick btw—so I’m assuming he bites the dust too. The other flip side to this is that as cool as Gandalf’s Sauron fight is (and trust me, it’s f*cking badass), leaving him in a ‘life or death’ situation didn’t faze me as I know he survives. The same can said of Bilbo. I’m sure PJ would argue it’s not about the who survives, but the journey they take together, and that’s all good and fine, but it’s hard to create the proper tension when we know everything will work out for certain characters.
THE HOBBIT: THE DESOLATION OF SMAUG is a fantastic ride and impressive second installment to this trilogy. The pacing was spot on, the actors really fell into their roles (loved the added storyline with Kili) and the return of familiar characters like Legolas was the pure definition of ‘fun’. Yes, the barrel ride down the river was corny as hell, the CGI heavy orcs were a bit of an eyesore, and as much as I love Thorin, I felt he gave up on the whole key situation far too easily, but Smaug was brilliant, as was the confrontation between Gandalf and Sauron—something we fans have dreamed about since the opening battle of FELLOWSHIP. There’s a hell of a lot of fun to be had here and I gladly recommend you check this one out. Is it December yet?
All in a Day’s Work: We take a look at the challenges this time around, as well as dive into Mirkwood, Lake-town and Dale as they showcase the film’s crazy action scenes. Everything but the barrel run was impressive.
Production Videos: A making-of from PJ and the production team. These are the same kinds of things we see him launch virally during filming, still cool to watch though.
New Zealand: Home of Middle-earth, Part 2: Another look at how PJ transforms New Zealand into Middle-Earth. Like I said, this flick is breathtakingly beautiful, so again, cool beans to watch.
Music Video: Ed Sheeran’s “I See Fire” theme song from the film. Cool, but do people even watch videos anymore?
Previews: There are a slew of trailers as well as a DVD and Ultraviolet Digital Copy of the film.