The sequel to Peter Jackson’s previous Hobbit movie, An Unexpected Journey, is a good time if you go in wanting dragons, but does little to satisfy the needs of avid Tolkien fans or movie-goers expecting more than a fire-filled final act.
The Desolation of Smaug has a whole of three major fights/conflicts in it: One near the beginning involving spiders, one near the end of the beginning involving orcs, and one at the end which takes up a whopping thirty plus minutes filled to the brim with dwarves being chased by a dragon. The problem here is that this time chart still leaves us with an unaccounted for two hours in the three hour movie, meaning that two thirds of your time in the theater will be listening to small talk between characters. Now, it’s a realistic approach to the cinematic representation of would-be heroes, as not every band of good guys can be out fighting the good fight every waking moment, but two full hours of shenanigans and conversations with dwarves can put an audience to sleep, as my yawning movie-going compatriots can attest.
With that said, the movie is good by all accounts which is why I have a hard time saying why I didn’t really like it. The cast is great, with Martin Freeman continuing his lovable Bilbo from An Unexpected Journey and Orlando Bloom being his obnoxiously attractive self. And lest we forget Benedict Cumberbatch, Smaug himself. Out of all the performances, Cumberbatch’s seems to be the best, and I’m pretty sure it’s just because of the awesome voice filter they put on all of his lines. Really, I was beyond captivated for the final thirty minute showdown with Smaug, all the way up until the shitty cliff-hanger ending (spoiler).
The best way I can illustrate why this movie didn’t seem very good initially was because it felt like I was watching the middle twenty minutes in a sixty minute episode of The Mentalist. I don’t really know what’s going on and while what I’m watching is well done, it feels out of place with my having not seen the before or after bits of it. So, with that said, I recommend you see The Desolation of Smaug in 2014 when most theatres will be showing all three Hobbit films back-to-back. Only then will The Desolation of Smaug feel like a complete adventure and not some disjointed three-hour long trailer for part three.