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Jacqueline Monahan's Movie Reviews

The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug | Martin Freeman, Ian McKellan, Richard Armitage, Orlando Bloom, Luke Evans, Evangeline Lily, Benedict Cumberbatch | Review

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Jacqueline  Monahan

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Jacqueline Monahan is an educator for the GEAR UP program at UNLV.
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The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug | Martin Freeman, Ian McKellan, Richard Armitage, Orlando Bloom, Luke Evans, Evangeline Lily, Benedict Cumberbatch | Review

The little creature on the big adventure continues his quest in director Peter Jackson’s second installment of the trilogy based on the iconic J.R.R. Tolkien book.

Title character and Ring possessor Bilbo Baggins (Martin Freeman) accompanies thirteen Dwarves, led by Thorin Oakenshield (Richard Armitage) on a mission to reclaim the lost Dwarf Kingdom of Erebor.

Aided by the wizard Gandalf (Ian McKellan) and sometimes even reluctant wood-elves Legolas (Orlando Bloom) and the newly-added-not-in-the-book Tauriel (Evangeline Lily), the vertically challenged group manage to evade capture for a while, then get captured for a while, then escape – for a while. Then it happens all over again.

Bilbo uses the Ring’s power to aid the Dwarves; as their designated burglar, he is charged with recovering the coveted Arkenstone buried deep inside Lonely Mountain. The white stone, which is imbued with its own light, is a family heirloom and symbol of Oakenshield’s birthright as King of the Dwarves. Yes, a lot is going on in Middle Earth in this middle segment.

Battling giant spiders and monstrously ugly Orcs along the way, Bilbo and the Dwarves are helped – for a price – by Bard (Luke Evans), a bowman from Lake-town, and descendent of Lord Girion of Dale, a city state that once thrived in the shadow of Lonely Mountain but destroyed by the same force that now resides there.

Gandalf conducts his own mission apart from Bilbo and the Dwarves, encountering the Necromancer (Benedict Cumberbatch) in an attempt to discover his sinister plot, and you know he has one. But that’s getting into LOTR territory and this is a prequel; back to the exploits of our diminutive heroes.

 

Orcs attack and are dispatched in glorious gore. Arrows fly as the Elves and Bard swing into action. Oakenshield and gang make it to Lonely Mountain with a key and encounter a setback.

Smaug (also Benedict Cumberbatch, voice) a destructive flying blowtorch of a dragon inhabits the former Dwarf mountain kingdom, snuggling amid a blanket of gold coins when he’s not out razing the villages of the countryside with his molten breath.

Bilbo encounters the smoldering, slithering, serpentine beast while hunting for the Arkenstone, and a narrated hide-and seek ensues, as Smaug sinister and silk-toned, beckons the intrepid hobbit to show himself.

The last line of the film is spoken by Bilbo, who exclaims, “What have we done?” Aficionados of the book will know what that means, ensuring that the third installment arrives with a blaze of anticipated glory.

Martin Freeman, effective as the hesitant-but determined Bilbo, has a few crucial scenes in the epic, but is not featured as much as you’d think for a titular character; Smaug, a ferocious, eloquent foe, has even less screen time. Ian McKellan is a welcome connection to future events, and Richard Armitage lends a macho countenance to Oakenshield that befits his royal legacy.

Orlando Bloom and Evangeline Lily bring fair faces and fierce fighting to the scene, and for the most part, the entire ensemble of characters exists seamlessly in the director’s digital domain.

Co-written, produced and directed by Peter Jackson (LOTR Trilogy, The Hobbit) the epic is 161 minutes of seemingly non-stop action, much more energized and focused than its predecessor. Jackson is clearly comfortable in the Middle Earth of his own creation.

And it shows.

 

 

 

 

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