The much anticipated second film in Peter Jackson’s Hobbit Trilogy has arrived in time to reap box office gold much the way the previous films based on Tolkien’s works have. The film continues the adventure started in the previous film and finds the band of adventurers chased by a pack of Orcs and faced with the deadly and dark Mirkwood Forest as they attempt to reach The Lonely Mountain in time.
The journey is long and filled with peril as everything from Orcs to giant spiders stand in the way and should the group be successful in reaching their destination, there is the little matter of a giant and very nasty dragon named Smaug to contend with. Undaunted the group press on despite finding danger a constant companion and once again give us a series staples of endless shots of them walking and walking in locales lifted from the Tourism New Zealand film room in between the amazing visual work that makes up the battle sequence and other-worldly visuals of the film.
Bilbo (Martin Freeman), is becoming more and more under the spell of the ring he obtained in the previous film and Gandalf (Sir Ian McKellen), suspects that darker forces are growing and sets off to confirm his suspicions. This divides the film into two quest centric storylines that are sure to cause some division amongst fans of the series. The film does manage to hold your attention throughout its 2.5 hr plus run time and does have a very enjoyable finale act as the arrival of Smug (Benedict Cumberbatch), for me has been honestly the most enjoyable of any of the four prior films in the series to date. His interactions with Bilbo and the group flesh him out to be more than a creation of CGI, but rather infuse him with an evil and complexity that make him a very compelling and dynamic character.
Despite the strong cast and amazing visual FX in the film that is captured very well by the 3D filming Jackson used, the movie does have its share of frustrations.
Jackson has once again loaded the film with tons of characters, scenarios, and padding that easily make up more than half of the film. The idea seems to be to show a greater connection to the original LOTR films and the inclusion of Orlando Bloom as Legolas and Evangeline Lilly as Tauriel is bound to cause controversy. On one hand it was great to see the two characters and the great amounts of action they brought to the film, but the entire time I kept thinking that there was no need for most of this extra stuff as it was included simply to stretch out the film in order to justify a third movie and ensure another big box office.
When the film reaches its conclusion it was very clear to me that they could have completed the film in two films had the removed all of the padding and fluff and stuck to the source material. Segments are drawn out or included that really do not need to be there no matter how exciting and visually appealing they may be.
When the film was first announced it was planned to be two films but was later expanded to three when Jackson took over as Director following the departure of Guillermo del Toro. If one film was sufficient to capture each book in the original series than three films for this one book is simply overkill to me and it undermines the source material. That being said, I did enjoy the film as it works best for me if I look at it as “inspired by’ rather than a cinematic translation of the book and in doing so I was able to get caught up in the action of the film and the character’s.
In the end the film is a true delight filled with plenty of action and adventure and will keep fans old and new entertained as despite the issues I had with it, it was one of the better action/fantasy films of the year and is a great technological achievement.
4 stars out of 5
Garth Von Kallenbach Shewed & Reviewed