Posted in 2010-2019, Film Review

The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug (2013)

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Image is property of Warner Bros, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, WingNut Films and New Line Cinema

The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug – Film Review

Cast: Martin Freeman, Sir Ian McKellen, Richard Armitage, Kenn Stott, Graham McTavish, Orlando Bloom, Evangeline Lilly, Aidan Turner, James Nesbitt, Benedict Cumberbatch, Luke Evans

Director: Peter Jackson

Synopsis:  The Dwarven company along with Bilbo Baggins and Gandalf the Grey continue their quest to reclaim their homeland of Erebor. However, the villainous Smaug is waiting for them and evil is beginning to stir in Dol Guldur…

Review: A fiery return to Middle Earth and with the Desolation of Smaug comes a bigger and better adventure than An Unexpected Journey. The first instalment suffered from a slow start and thus it took its time to get going. Despite this,  it was still a thoroughly enjoyable adventure. However, this second instalment wastes no time and immediately picks up from where the first film ended, as the company of Dwarves along with Bilbo and Gandalf continue their quest to reclaim Erebor.

Right from the get go, this film is immediately packed with some great scenes. From being chased from a bear-man to battling spiders that almost feast on our gang of little heroes. From there we have an enthralling chase down a choppy river as the Dwarves flee in wooden barrels, whilst being pursued by the pack of Orcs that continue to hunt them, as well as a group of elves led by Legolas (Orlando Bloom) and Tauriel (Evangeline Lilly). While these two characters did not feature in the work of J.R.R Tolkien, and while that may upset some of the die hard Tolkienites (hardcore fans of Tolkien’s work) they were both excellent characters who were exciting to watch and memorable.

On the subject of memorable, there is a character (or should I say beast) that is very memorable and is one of the best villains that has been put on the big screen in a long time. This beast is of course, Smaug the dragon, voiced and motion captured by the brilliant Benedict Cumberbatch. This beast was ENORMOUS and very menacing. The dialogue that Smaug and Bilbo share in this film is wonderful. With the sinister voice of Cumberbatch that sent shivers down my spine,  this villain was superb and the scenes with him are among the best in the film.

Martin Freeman continued to excel in the role of Bilbo and Sir Ian McKellen was also ontop form as Gandalf.  A number of the dwarves within the company unfortunately do fade into the background, but there are those who come to the fore, Thorin (Richard Armitage) being one of them. He is the strong courageous leader that he was in the first film. Meanwhile the elderly Balin (Ken Stott) is another member of the dwarf company that shines through as the wisest member of the company.

Unlike the first film, this adventure does not suffer any pacing issues and is packed with action in almost every scene. The arrival at Laketown does slow things down but this is not  bad thing as the audience need the time to breath with all the action that leads up to it. Again there were a few CGI issues as some things did not look as authentic as they could have been. However, on the whole, this film is very well executed and is one of the best films of the year. It is packed with great action scenes and boasts one of the best villains in modern cinema. Be prepared for a fantastic cliff hanger that is definitely going to ensure you will want to come back to Middle Earth for the third and final instalment…

The stakes are upped considerably from the first film, delivering incredible action and a magnificent performance from Cumberbatch as Smaug the dragon, can we go back to Middle Earth now please?

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Posted in 2010-2019, Film Review

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey (2012)

All image rights belong to Warner Bros, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, WingNut Films and New Line Cinema
Image is property of Warner Bros, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, WingNut Films and New Line Cinema

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey – Film Review

Cast: Martin Freeman, Sir Ian McKellen, Richard Armitage, Kenn Stott, Graham McTavish, Aidan Turner, James Nesbitt, Hugo Weaving , Sir Christopher Lee

Director: Peter Jackson

Synopsis: The first instalment of the new trilogy of films from Peter Jackson. When a younger and more reluctant Bilbo Baggins is persuaded to accompany the great wizard Gandalf and a company of dwarves on their journey to reclaim their homeland that has been taken over by a dragon…

Review: Hi ho! hi ho! It is back to Middle Earth we go! Except,  in this adventure we have thirteen dwarves, a brave Hobbit and an awesome wizard on a perilous journey to reclaim the Dwarves’ homeland from a dragon. While this film does not quite match the brilliance of the Lord of the Rings trilogy (LOTR), it is still an exciting and enjoyable adventure. Albeit  an adventure that does take its time to get going.

Through a flashback similar to the one we saw in the Lord of the Rings narrated by Galadriel (Cate Blanchett) we instead get a flashback narrated by Old Bilbo (Ian Holm) who reveals how the evil Smaug (voiced and motion captured by Benedict Cumberbatch) took the Dwarf Kingdom of Erebor.  With this all said and done we remain in the Shire for a good 30 minutes or so as the Dwarves come to Bilbo’s house to sing songs and throw crockery around whilst doing so, much to poor Bilbo’s annoyance.  Even when the adventure does properly get going it is still slow in parts as more stories are told. However when the adventure does finally get going it is fantastic as we witness some thrilling action scenes reminiscent to some of the great moments we had in the LOTR trilogy.

As the titular character Martin Freeman was tremendous in the role of Bilbo. He was likeable and courageous and you find yourself wanting him to earn his place in the company of the Dwarves.  On the subject of the dwarves, while a lot of them fade into the background, there are a few that deserve special mentions. One of these is undoubtedly Thorin Oakenshield (Richard Armitage) As the leader of the Dwarf Company you wanted him to be strong, brave and a determined warrior to win back his homeland,and he was all these things. Ken Stott as the elderly Balin is another dwarf who is memorable for his comic relief moments and to be the wise old dwarf that the company need. And of course we have Sir Ian McKellen as Gandalf the Grey once again. He was incredible in the LOTR trilogy and he is equally incredible in this film, save for the fact that he unfortunately does not take on a Balrog of Morgoth in this film.

While there is evidently a lot more CGI in this film compared to the Lord of the Rings some of which is a bit bothersome there is still plenty of CGI that does take your breath away.  On the subject of great CGI we must talk about Gollum my preciousssss! ( I hope you read that in  Gollum’s voice) Although he is not in the film long, he is just as brilliant as he was in the LOTR trilogy. The Riddles in the Dark scene with him and Bilbo simply is first class entertainment and a definite hight point of the film, along with the last act of the film which is also incredible. Howard Shore’s score is also first class. Shore scooped two Oscars for his great work in the Lord of the Rings and he’s again on fine form here as the score is of the highest quality.

All in all this film was thoroughly enjoyable and a great watch. While it does take its time to get going, when it does get going it is thrilling with some terrific scenes that remind you what you love about the world of J.R.R Tolkien and Peter Jackson to a certain extent.  While the decision to make it into a trilogy as opposed to two films, has been criticised by some people. While the CGI is in places bothersome in parts, it was still a welcome return to Middle Earth and I look forward to the next instalment of this adventure.

The pacing is a little slow, as the film takes it times to get going but to be back in Middle Earth is a joy to behold, and once it’s full steam ahead, there’s much to enjoy.

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