Friday, 11 April 2014

The Hobbit: The Desolation Of Smaug: That’s More Like It … 

11th April, 2014.

You know, it really is getting late.


But then, that’s one disadvantage to renting a film that lasts as long as the one I rented, this evening.

You tend to end up with monsters.

Which, now I mention it, is possibly more appropriate than I thought.

At ANY rate … ?

I’ve actually managed to have an evening free, tonight.

A free evening, and enough credit on my iTunes Store account to rent a film.

The one in question … ?

Was the second part of Peter Jackson’s version of The Hobbit: called The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug.

I’m thinking three things, right now.
  1. Benedict Cumberbatch as the voice of Smaug was INCREDIBLE … !
  2. So were the scenes with Smaug.
  3. And, by GODS, that’s an impressively big dragon!
You can tell something caught my eye, can’t you … ?

Hmmm … Let me get some sleep: I think my brain could do with disconnecting … !


12th April, 2014.

Hmmm … disconnecting …

Yeah …

I managed to get some sleep, there: thankfully: and also managed to help a friend with a virus problem.

I can also safely say I bumped into a Mac using neighbour: who laughed his head off, when I told him about that.

I also had a bit of an issue, meself, actually: bloody Flash!   I managed to update my copy of Adobe Flash player, this morning.   Which then started displaying “Plug-in Failure” messages.   Turns out there’s specific bits of code Adobe didn’t take account of.

They managed to point people’s browsers at the older version of the plug-in, so all’s well, for now.

At ANY rate … ?

At any rate, I started this, wanting to tell you about last night’s film: The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug.


The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug opens by showing us the first meeting between Gandalf (Sir Ian McKellan) and Thorin (Richard Armitage), in Bree: prior to The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey.   And sees Gandalf urging Thorin to try to take over Erebor: Thorin’s ancestral home, and currently occupied … 

By Smaug.

There’s ALSO the small matter of vengence: Thorin wants revenge for the death of his family: killed in the original attack on Erebor.

By a dragon called … Smaug.

There’s also the small matter of the Arkenstone: the one thing Thorin needs to unite dwarfdom under his leadership.

That’s currently being sat on by Smaug, as well.

It’s only THEN, or course, that Gandalf makes a suggestion.

That Thorin — and his friends — should get hold of a burglar.


It’s then, of course, that the scene moves on: to some twelve months later, when Bilbo (Martin Freeman), Thorin and the company have escaped the Misty Mountains.

Only to be pursued by Orcs.

Straight into the hands of Beorn: a skin-changer, capable of turning into a bear.   And a skin changer who’s not fond of dwarves.

But less fond of Orcs, and happy to help the group get to the Lonely Mountain, before Durin’s Day.

It’s only when the team get to Mirkwood that Thorin and company release a thing or two.

That spiders* in Mirkwood get big.

And that the Elven King of Northern Mirkwood — Thranduil, played by Lee Pace — is … well … not as friendly to dwarves as his son, Legolas … 

All this … ?

All this, before they get to the Lonely Mountain, itself.

Which is where the fun REALLY starts … 

Fun … 

A thrush … 

And a sleeping dragon … 


Now … 

Did I came away impressed from The Hobbit: The Desolation Of Smaug … ?

Yes, I think I did.

Whilst the film is long — 161 minutes — it’s also some eight minutes shorter than its predecessor, The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, it feels somewhat better paced: and somewhat less padded.

Although, saying that, it occurred to me, last night, that the entire film series could well have been down as a big budget — seriously big budget — TV series: a one off special of some sort.

That’s possibly an argument for another time, though.

I do feel the film is — like the rest of the Wingnut/New Line/Warner Brothers produced versions of Tolkien’s legendarium — a well produced piece with a great ensemble cast, great effects and well written.

Granted, I think the producers have had to deviate somewhat from the original text of the novels, but the sheer size of the cast means that extra plots could be added so the sheer number of characters Tolkien invented could be used.

Used … and STILL not feel like padding.

Whilst we’re talking of characters, the introduction of Tauriel — Evangeline Lilly — is actually welcome: she acts as a love interested for both Legolas (Orlando Bloom) and Fili (Aidan Turner‡), and provides much needed support.   Both militarily and otherwise.

There’s ALSO the point I made, in opening the post.

The combination of what I felt to be some excellent design and animation work, AND Benedict Cumberbatch’s voice, brought Smaug — possibly one of the fantasy villains† — to truly stupendous life.

As terrifying, and riveting — if not more more-so — than Gollum.

That makes The Hobbit: The Desolation Of Smaug a serious contender for three stars, from where I’m sitting.

Roll on the last film in the trilogy.

I’d like to see how this plays out.
The Hobbit: The Desolation Of Smaug

*        Don’t quote me, but I read a biography of Tolkien, many years ago, that said the Professor was seriously arachnaphobic.   Which is why both The SilmarillionThe Lord Of The rings and The Hobbit all feature malevolent giant spiders: they were the most terrifying thing he could think of.

†        I’ve personally felt — in any discussion of Tolkien’s work — that Gollum was the dominant villain: both pathetic, treacherous, evil … and ultimately redeemed by his death in The Return Of The King.   On the other hand … ?   Smaug is irredeemably evil: asking not for forgiveness, but only the death of those who oppose him.

‡        As of 2015, the former Being Human star is in the BBC’s updated version of Poldark.

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