Just a quick reminder that My Thoughts On… posts may contain spoilers, so if you haven’t seen the film in question, it may be best to move on!
The dwarves, along with Bilbo Baggins and Gandalf the Grey, continue their quest to reclaim Erebor, their homeland, from Smaug. Bilbo Baggins is in possession of a mysterious and magical ring. (via IMDb)
What I Liked
- At the end of the day, if it’s Peter Jackson’s Middle Earth, I’m in. It could be terrible, and I’d still be interested, because my love for The Lord of the Rings runs so very deep. As it is, I actually think that the film is very entertaining and enjoyable.
- Last year I complained about An Unexpected Journey being too long; I don’t think I was alone in feeling that there was an awful lot of extraneous material that could easily have been left out. With The Desolation of Smaug, although it was about the same length, it didn’t drag nearly as much. I didn’t feel like I was willing certain sequences to be over in the same way I was with the first film.
- I liked seeing Legolas again, even if I’m no longer such a fan of Orlando Bloom. He was as badass as he is in The Lord of the Rings, so it was good to have him back.
- I spotted Peter Jackson reprising his carrot munching Bree cameo straightaway; even if it felt much more signposted than his cameos in the original trilogy, I still loved it.
- These stories are so male dominated, and while it would feel disingenuous to pack them full of female characters just to redress the balance, it is nice that they wrote the character of Tauriel (played by Evangeline Lily) especially for the film. She’s a perfectly acceptable character too, although it is slightly galling that she is given a love interest (more on that below).
- Again, as with An Unexpected Journey, I enjoyed the performances of Richard Armitage, Martin Freeman and Ian McKellen. I also enjoyed Aiden Turner more this time round, as he was given more to do. It was nice to see Stephen Fry too, even if it always a bit disconcerting seeing him play a nasty character. And Luke Evans, who played Bard, is super attractive.
- The major highlight of the film, for me, was Smaug. He was such a delight to behold, from the special effects to the voice performance by Benedict Cumberbatch. I had no problem believing, for one single second, that Smaug was real – the way he moved and spoke just felt so real.
What I Didn’t Like
- As I said, I liked Tauriel, but it felt as though Jackson and co. were giving with one hand and taking away with another. We got a female character to break up the male dominated film, and yet she had to be involved in a love story. She seemed to be the object of Legolas’ affections, and then she and Kili have something going on. It would have been much nicer if she had just been a badass elf, without embroiling her in a love story.
- I am a huge fan of prequels making references to future films, and I really enjoyed them in An Unexpected Journey. But in this one, the one that really stands out is when Legolas makes a comment about a photograph of a young Gimli that Gloin, his father, is carrying. It felt as though it had been shoehorned in, and it made it feel clunky and awkward. I didn’t like it at all.
All in all, I enjoyed this film a lot, and I think it was an improvement on An Unexpected Journey (even though I actually enjoyed that one a lot too). I am really looking forward to There and Back Again. One day I’ll be able to spend a good couple of days immersed in Middle Earth when I have all the DVDs.