As Bilbo Baggins and the dwarves continue their quest toward Erebor and in hopes of defeating the great dragon Smaug, their journey continues to capture the attention of dark forces. The Necromancer and his forces begin to catch on to the band of heroes, sending out orcs to end their quest. Arriving at Beorn’s cottage, they seek refuge from their pursuers, just before entering the Mirkwood and continuing on to the town of Esgaroth. Along the way, they have to battle with giant spiders, elves, their orc pursuers, and humans who would have no support for their quest. If they can make it to the Lonely Mountain, the question still remains of whether they can defeat Smaug and win back the homeland of the dwarves.
Starring: Martin Freeman (Bilbo Baggins), Ian McKellen (Gandalf the Grey), Richard Armitage (Thorin Oakenshield), Benedict Cumberbatch (Smaug), Orlando Bloom (Legolas), Evangeline Lilly (Tauriel), Luke Evans (Bard the Bowman), Lee Pace (Thranduil), Stephen Fry (Master of Lake-town), Cate Blanchett (Galadriel), Mikael Persbrandt (Beorn), Sylvester McCoy (Radagast the Brown), Manu Bennett (Azog), Aidan Turner (Kili)
While there are too many dwarves to name them all, it is clear that Armitage is the focal point of the group and has some big things coming in the final installment of the series. His brooding seems to put his actions into question throughout the film, while the rest of the cast is more straightforward in their pursuit of their homeland. Freeman continues to play out his internal conflict quite well as he becomes more and more brave, though he is equipped with the ring. McKellen continues to bring the whimsy and heroism to the role of Gandalf, while McCoy is most just whimsy. Cumberbatch was the best addition to this cast as the voice of Smaug. He is incredibly menacing and brings great life to this great beast. Bloom and Lilly make quite the elvish pair throughout their battles and personal conflict, making for an interesting side story.
Peter Jackson continues to make epic films, though this one is arguably one of the most dragged out ones of his series based around Middle Earth. Compared to the Lord of the Rings trilogy, The Hobbit seems to suffer from long, drawn-out travel sequences and non-plot-driving dialogue to fill the nearly 3 hour run time. There was no dwarf musical interludes this time, but the story was embellished with extended scenes involving the elves, the secrecy of the dwarves in Lake-town, and climbing of the Lonely Mountain (which seems to stall around the discovery of the secret door). Meanwhile, there was a battle that began to wage between the Necromancer and Gandalf that had very little attention or conclusion paid toward it. There was also a somewhat star-crossed love triangle that was developed between Tauriel, Legolas, and Kili that never took place in the original story.
While there was a lot of filler to extend this film, there was also quite a bit of action and suspense involving the dwarves, elves, and a larger than life dragon in the Lonely Mountain. It is hard to identify the best sequences of the film. One could turn to the giant spiders in the Mirkwood, who were a bit quirky with their unexpected dialogue. Then there was the escape from the elves, which included a sequence with Legolas battling the orcs and one dwarf humorously stumbling down the river while taking out a number of the orc hoard. Best of all was the introduction and battle with Smaug, which made the long run time worth the wait. Cumberbatch lended the perfect voice to the dragon, which eventually turned into a battle sequence that was chaotic and impossible from which to look away.
For all of the flaws and the long run time, the film was still quite entertaining. Smaug’s introduction in the latter third of the film made the experience worthwhile to enjoy on the big screen.
Dan’s Rating: 3.5/5