Thursday, December 12, 2013

The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug Review

So here we are, one year after attending the special press screening for The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, we're now attending the second film, THE HOBBIT: THE DESOLATION OF SMAUG with a bonus treat.

It's still the same creative and production team that's behind this. Still Peter Jackson directing with some help from Guillermo Del Torro, still Martin Freeman as Bilbo, Richard Armitage as Thorin and Ian McKellen as Gandalf.

We get some new additions to the cast too. LOTR alum Orlando Bloom returns here as Legolas, Luke Evans and Evangeline Lily are first timers here playing Bard and Tauriel respectively. The big character here is the dragon Smaug which is now voiced by Benedict Cumberbatch (Sherlock fans huzzah!). Still J.R.R. Tolkien's book as the source of inspiration and finally it's still Lee Pace here playing the role of Thranduil, that smug elf-king that rides a fricking reindeer to battle.

Evangeline Lily as Tauriel

Lee Pace as Thranduil

Luke Evans as Bard the Bowman
So what's different from this film from An Unexpected Journey. First the tone shifts to a darker, serious tone.  This new movie focuses on more darker stuff. That darker stuff? It also happens to be the meatier parts of the novel by J.R.R. Tolkien. Things like the Necromancer and Smaugh himself serve to really give our heroes a tough challenge. If you need further proof of this tonal shift I'm talking about, check out the dialogue that Beorn the Skinwalker provides about the Defiler and his torture. It's grim as grim can be.

Don't fret because much like Galadriel's phial of light, there's still some great things to expect from the film. There's a new love story element here between Tauriel (Lily) and Kili; which also becomes a love triangle thanks to Legolas. Bard's role is fleshed out better here and even Thranduil.

The scenes with the barrels were both funny and awesome. Keep your eyes peeled for that one.

In a nutshell, The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug is everything that you'll need for your epic fantasy adventure fix. It's already a great novel and it being translated for the big screen with lots of new bells and whistles shows just how much love director Peter Jackson has for the project. Tons of adventure and action but with very little fantastical creatures which is considerable since they focused more on Smaug the dragon. There's also a lot of complexities for most of the characters in this one. Thorin Oakenshield is one of the primary example. 

The ending is definitely STAR WARS Empire Strikes Back with the execution.

If there's any problem that I might have encountered here in the film, it's too much Orlando Bloom. Yes I acknowledge we need Legolas but we don't need him that much. The Kili-Tauriel was also half-baked but that's understandable since we're paying to see some action and dragon slaying hi-jinks and not "how we sired a dwarf-elf hybrid". 

For a movie that follows a high pedigree, I'm also impressed that The Hobbit: TDOS isn't as long as what I was anticipating, rather short film if I can say so myself. Also I highly recommend you see the film in a specific format - HFR IMAX 3D. Why? so that you'll freak out at the sight of huge spiders and get creeped out by giant honeybees that's why! 

The movie is perfect for my taste. It's packed tight with everything and it follows the book closely (well to some extent anyway, I don't need it to follow everything). The acting is superb and as always, the visual effects and musical scoring is practically begging for an Oscar Award. 

I'd like to thank Warner Bros. Pictures and the SM Mall of Asia IMAX for this wonderful screening. Until next year. Oh and the film is NOW SHOWING.

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