The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, English Hollywood Film Movie Review, Johnson Thomas, Rating: * * * 1/2

English Film review
Johnson Thomas
Emphatic masterly Adventure
Film: The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug(3D)
Cast: Ian McKellen, Andy Serkis, Martin freeman, Richard Armitage, Cate Blanchett
Director: Peter Jackson

Rating: *  *  * ½

 "The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug"  is a definite improvement on the first installment of Peter Jackson’s three-part adaptation of  J R R Tolkien’s creation.  There’s plenty of peril, action, thrilling heart-in-the-mouth styled escapes with great courage beyond size on display. And it’s more fulfilling too. 

Thorin Oakenshield( Richard armitage) and his mighyu band of dwarves, Bilbo Baggins(Martin Freeman) and wize old wizard Gandalf( Ian McKellen) embark on a crusade to reclaim Erebor from the vicious fire-breathing dragon Smaug(Benedict Cumberbatch) in this sweeping fantasy adventure  picking up from where the events of The Hobbit: An Unexpected journey left off.
Peter Jackson continues to be at the helm of things  from the Lord of the Rings series to the Hobbit adventures, giving direction and visual meaning to Tolkien’s memorable characters and plot.  The adapted screenplay is by Fran Walsh, Philippa Boyens and Guillermo Del Toro, who make this part in the series a joyride full of the unexpected and the stunning. The 300 page book has been transformed into a nine hour adaptation with expansive drama that mines ‘The Lord of the Rings’ for strong interest- bringing in Legolas(Orlando Bloom) and inventing a female Elve  and ace archer named Tauriel(Evangeline Lily) whom Legolas fancies.
This film is entirely devoted to the dangerous expedition of 13 dwarves recruited by Gandalf with the aim of reinstating Thorin Oakenshield as monarch of the underground kingdom of Erebor-  which was lost in the devastating battle that was the opening sequence of the first film. The vicious and evil dragon, Smaug, the biggest creature in this fictional universe,  is the biggest threat and subduing him is not easy.
The drama is high energy and completely captivating but the length of the runtime does tend to be energy sapping after it crosses the two hour and thirty minute mark. There is speed and economy in the telling but the expansive nature of the tale and the numerous characters in it’s fold does tend to get confusing. The action is also quite well orchestrated. The ending is a true cliffhanger, the resolution to which audiences will look forward to in the final installment.
The CGI and FX are superlative like in all Jackson’s films to the extent that even Andrew Lesnie’s carefully rendered camerawork looks like a product of machine work. The 3D is also highly effective here. There’s an unmistakable pleasure in being transported back to Jackson’s version of Middle-earth, enlivened by  the lush strains of Howard Shore’s score and elaborated in masterly fashion by production designer Dan Hennah and his team,. The  seamless integration of Weta’s topnotch visual effects is also quite strikingly effective.The 48 frames per second imagery adopted in the first segment has been toned down here for emphatic realization. But for the staggering runtime, this film is a super joyride!


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