The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug (2013)
Reviewed on 2014 August 16
The spouse asked me what I wanted for my birthday this year. I asked for my favorite pizza and this. It was a happy birthday. The two hours and 50 minutes flew by.
After a cute bit with the opening credits and a nice scene where Gandalf (Ian McKellen) meets a suspicious Thorin Oakenshield (Richard Armitage), we cut to an overwhelmed Bilbo, still handling what this adventure is throwing at him and yet no doubt wondering why on Earth he left The Shire. A halfling who considered it a tragedy to miss his second breakfast in his old life is now battling spiders, Orcs, Dwarf-Elf politics, and the worst of all: Smaug. Smaug (brought to brilliant, hissing life by Benedict Cumberbatch) is almost as clever as he is wicked, and has none of Bilbo’s faltering explanations as to why he’s invaded what he views as his turf. The dwarves, wanting to reclaim their land, are as hard-headed about ownership as the dragon, and Bilbo is about to be caught in the middle of something very ugly.
I think a lot of bridge movies suffer from “Middleitis”: they’re a connection between the beginning and finale, and critics may find them wanting. I loved this. My only squabble, and it’s a minor one, was I wanted to see more Beorn, plus I wanted him to be more humanized and less the Universal Studios’ Wolf Man in mid-change. If you read Tolkein’s book, Beorn sounded more like a big funny Viking than what Jackson gave us, but petty gripe is petty. The barrel cam was great, and Smaug was all I could have hoped for and more. Even Mr. Shukti turned to me and said “this guy is an ^%$##@#$$.” Yes he was. That’s just one part of what made it awesome.
Three morsels, for three of the fastest hours of my life.