The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug

Genre: Fantasy, Adventure, Action

Director: Peter Jackson

Writers:  Fran Walsh, Philippa Boyens, Peter Jackson, Guillermo Del Toro and J.R.R. Tolkien

Starring: Martin Freeman, Ian McKellen, Orlando Bloom

Rating: ★★★★

The much anticipated sequel and the long awaited second in the Hobbit series, The Desolation of Smaug had very high expectations. It had to capture the fun fantasy world and feeling An Unexpected Journey achieved, alongside living up to the action packed visual entertainment it promised. It is impossible to dislike the Hobbit films or even The Lord of The Rings Trilogy that the current series plays prequels to, in my perspective it’s due to its luring story that you get so attached. I went into the cinema knowing full well I would enjoy this film but yet with an element of anticipation and eagerness to see what was so new and different.

Many have criticised not only the second installation of The Hobbit series but the whole concept itself due to its lack of ability to recreate accurately J.R.R. Tolkien’s novel. However I haven’t read the novel nor looked into how the films make a comparison, I take on The Hobbit series as a set of films and those that are made to recreate the story for greater entertainment.

In An Unexpected Journey we follow Bilbo Baggins’ (Martin Freeman) adventure as the Hobbit burglar on the quest to reclaim former homeland Erebor, with the Dwarves and Gandalf the Grey (Ian McKellen), as they battle the powerful and great Dragon Smaug. After some back-logging we continue the group’s quest once again and straight back into action as they continue to be hunted by the Orcs. Seeking shelter in a skin-changers house, a being that changes from a hairy man to a slightly hairier bear they escape the Orcs briefly. They then head towards a mysterious and dangerous forest alone, due to Gandalf’s personal quest of regaining peace in middle earth. The film then fuels from entertaining battles and action as well as giving important plot development for the latter scenes and the final film.

The Desolation of Smaug also sees the arrival of a few new and entertaining characters as well as the focus being turned on a few that were in the shadows in the previous instalment. Whilst travelling through the forest containing controlling illusions and haunting spiders the Dwarves get captured by on duty Elves, a familiar Legolas (Orlando Bloom) alongside most entertaining and impressive the “she-elf” Tauriel (Evangeline Lilly) who take the angered Dwarves back to their Kingdom. There is also much more focus on dwarf Killi (Aidan Turner) who strikes a relationship with the feisty she-elf which also results in striking up more conflict.

Half an hour of Orc bashing and barrel-riding later the focus then turns on another new character, Bard (Luke Evans) who not only plays hero and smuggler for the Dwarves and Bilbo but could play hero for the whole of middle earth after it is revealed he has common enemy with the Dragon Smaug. In the final scenes the focus switches from Bilbo to Gandalf, who battles and fights with a foe whose evil and darkness forebodes a great war. Confronting the Dragon in the meantime Bilbo awakes more evil and danger which puts the whole city in extinction.

There is so much happening in The Hobbit it does take some working-out and reflection however this is not a criticism but a positive, with much entertainment and action balanced out with important plot developing dialogue it makes the full running time important and worth-while. The action scenes where so varied and different it was refreshing and clever, the opening scene was tense and thrilling whilst “the barrel scene” was comedic. The comedy didn’t stop there as the dialogue included some witty lines especially from Dwarves Killi and Bifur.

Admiration away from the action and script, The Desolation of Smaug as expected and once again provided flawless visuals and effects alongside make-up which I would guess will be nominated for an Oscar. The achievement of creating such terrifying looking Orcs is amazing, whilst the Dragon was stunning. The scene that glorifies The Hobbit’s effects is one of the highlights of the whole film, near the closing scene Smaug dripping with gold breaks free and shakes in the sky scattering gold everywhere, visually looking flawless.

The cast and cameos The Hobbit has is also incredible, with a long list of world famous and popular stars hogging the credits list. This time round most notably Stephen Fry is centre stage playing the role which sees him Master of Laketown whilst we finally hear the voice of Benedict Cumberbatch as Smaug. My favourite performance however comes from Evangeline Lilly playing Tauriel, the “she-elf, she captures such an entertaining and powerful performance which is simply great to watch, another pick for an Oscar.

My only criticisms of The Hobbit: Desolation of Smaug are aimed at its frustrating ending and slightly confusing mixed plots that also have very expected climaxes. In general the film was very entertaining and fun to watch, the expectations were met. The entertainment and success achieved from this film were mainly due to the fights and new characters. The Hobbit: Desolation of Smaug has now only created a huge amount of anticipation for the finale of the series which is certainly going to be the biggest and the best. Peter Jackson’s second instalment of The Hobbit series is by no means perfect or a classic, but it’s really one you have to see.

 

New Year and New Reviews

Happy New Year to all, I hope it’s a fantastic one for all with lots of joy and happiness! I am so far behind reviews due to the holiday seasons but expect reviews on The Hobbit, The Secret Life Of Walter Mitty soon! Just a heads up, they’re both great! So go and see them before you have to go back to your normal lives and routines. Happy New Year – Liam

MY 2013 AWARDS

The year of 2013 has been a great year for the film industry and cinema; there have been some outstanding releases that have therefore played a role in advertising cinema in all its glory; however there have also been those flops and shameful failures. I have been lucky enough to have viewed many new releases this year and more so, some outstanding ones. I have also been lucky in dodging some of the terrible showings. I will not be awarding films generic titles but ones that suit its viewing most accordingly.

I SHOULD HAVE KEPT MY £10 AND BROUGHT NETFLIX AWARD!

Surprisingly there was no contest for this award even with Movie 43 and The Harry Hill Movie being released in the same year. Oblivion for me was the worse film of 2013 that I had paid to see and even with that in mind, I’m sure it still would have been equally terrible if it was free! The story to Oblivion really didn’t reveal itself till the end so for the most part it was Tom Cruise fixing broken droids with chewing gum and fighting his own clones in a “Tom Cruise-off”. It was just a really poor film that seemed the only purpose it fulfilled was to remind us all how egotistical Mr. Cruise is. For the majority of this film apart from planning the fire exit route home, I was actually thinking of things I could have brought instead, and yes a month’s trail of Netflix crossed my mind!

IT WAS WORTH THAT EXTRA £1 FOR THE GLASSES AWARD!

Most films I’ve seen in 3D have really not been worth that extra £1 for the glasses nor the hassle of the glasses irritating your head. However on that very short list is a 2013 release that I believe is the best cinematic viewing experience in recent years! Gravity was outstanding and its use of 3D was just brilliant. The scene that was most amazing consisted of Ryan Stone’s (Sandra Bullock) tears falling from her eyes towards your face out of the screen. Alfonso Cuarón editing and effects should be applauded. There were really no other contenders for this award, Gravity was visually faultless!

I ALMOST CHOKED ON MY SKITTLES WHILST LAUGHING AWARD!

Every year a handful of “comedies” are released and only a select few manage a snigger or a laugh. This year has been slightly encouraging though with a few films being released that were surprisingly funny. This is the End was by no means special but I giggled due to the works of Seth Rogan once again, and of course The Worlds End was very good displaying that classical Simon Pegg and Edgar Wright humour. However the best comedy of 2013 for me was The Heat! It was hilarious and included amazing humour achieved by the physical display as well as the dialogue. I was actually lucky to see the advanced viewing of The Heat all the way back in February/March and I can still remember the punch-lines. There was one scene out of many that made me hysterical and I actually choked on my skittles at the time, I shall just call that “the watermelon scene”. The Heat isn’t the best film ever but it definitely succeeded at making me laugh non-stop throughout so the award was a no-brainer!

MOST TENSE EXPERIENCE AWARD!

There’s nothing I find more interesting than how a film can make you feel so tense and on edge despite knowing full well it’s just fiction, it’s just a film. This year two films made me on edge, James Wan’s horror The Conjuring had one particular scene that made me amongst others a little bit clammy. However it was Captain Phillips that completely by surprise made me so tense and thrilled throughout viewing. Tom Hanks playing the lead role in a film based on the real life event of Somali pirates capturing the captain of an American cargo ship back in 2009. It had many breath taking and nervy scenes that was helped by the great performance of Tom Hanks. As well as being the tensest viewing experience of 2013, Captain Phillips is also one of my favourite releases.

IT WAS SO WORTH BEING SURROUNDED BY KIDS AWARD!

No matter how old you are there will always be certain films that you can’t help but go to the cinema and watch, despite it involving being surrounded by excitable kids and their parents. Despicable Me 2 was one of those films that I had to see and it was very worth it due the minion mayhem, but it was Monsters University that was the real entertainer. The long awaited sequel to the 2001 Monsters Inc. and the film of my childhood it was one I couldn’t resist. Watching Mike and Sully back at university competing in the scare games was great and it really made me feel like a little child again. I might have looked a bit odd laughing and smiling throughout but the film was amazing. I really don’t regret going to the cinema to see it at all even I did look like a big kid and I’m sure there were many others out there just like me!

YOU SHOULD QUIT THE FATHER AND SON DUO AWARD!

It’s always a disaster waiting to happen when a film becomes a family project. However the film that needed to ditch its father and son duo wasn’t A Good Day To Die Hard but Will and Jadon Smith’s After Earth. The father and son duo had struck lucky with The Pursuit Of Happiness but it wasn’t going to happen again. Jadon really can’t act and the storyline was so dull, at times I didn’t know what was worse. The film previously had such a huge advertisement campaign focusing on the pairing but after this display, this should be the last time we see the Smith’s on the big screen together for a while.

LETS JUST SHHH AND ENJOY THE CINEMATOGRAPHY AND SOUNDTRACK AWARD!

I had to squeeze this film in here somehow! Many will criticise and shame Nicholas Winding Refn’s 2013 Only God Forgives but for me it was a technical and visual master display. It was the unlabelled sequel to the very popular and prestigious Drive (2011) but the film itself was very different. Despite a quiet story, the technical side of Only God Forgives was amazing, the cinematography was really as good as it gets. I’ve heard this film being described as many things, but the one that was really spot on was, “Perfect photography without the caption.” Once again like Drive the soundtrack was also brilliant. Even if you don’t have a clue about what is going on you can’t shun the faultless visuals and for me it was one of the best and underrated releases this year.

I WAS BRIEFLY SCARED AWARD!

2013 for horror was very disappointing in comparison to my original expectations. With big name releases like The Evil Dead and Carrie I was hoping for something else apart from just gore but that didn’t arrive. Surprisingly though it was two of the less talked about films that made the impact, Mama was especially good but James Wan’s The Conjuring for me was the best horror. It had an interesting story that was executed well resulting in a few moments where I was actually scared. The “clap game scene” especially showed that. Again it was nothing too special but it was definitely the best out of the bunch.

 

BEST SEQUEL AWARD!

Usually when a bag full of sequels gets released it’s for the wrong reasons and they only produce a dent in their franchise. 2013 however was a good year for sequels with the likes of, Monsters University, A good day to Die Hard, Despicable Me 2, The Hunger Games etc. but as expected there was no contest as soon as The Hobbit: Desolation of Smaug was released. The prequels to the best trilogy made in Lord Of The Rings, The Hobbit films were always going to have high expectations and they’ve surely delivered. Once again the entertainment flourished with a great storyline and cast recreating that much loved adventurous feel. There is no other alternative than to choose The Hobbit as the best sequel!

MOST FAVOURITE PERFORMANCE AWARD!

There are always those films and those characters that you can’t help but get attached too and this is purely down to the great performances captured by the actors and actresses. This year for me I saw two standout performances, Colin Farrell although only playing a side-role in Saving Mr Banks was absolutely brilliant. It was Farrell’s co-star Tom Hanks that gave the best performance of 2013 though, in the outstanding Captain Phillips. Tom Hanks reminded us all just why many regard him as one of the greatest actors of recent years. It was the final scene that really showed this, as a hysterical Tom Hanks captured brilliantly the feelings of Captain Richard Phillips. There will be no surprise if Hanks wins many awards for his role as without it Captain Phillips wouldn’t have been as enjoyable and as impacting.

There’s my non-generic awards for 2013, feel free to comment on all those wonderful controversial statements, or perhaps agree with my absolute correctness.

 

Top 5: Films To Look Out For In The Rest Of 2013

So we’ve had The Great Gatsby and our Pacific Rim but let’s have a look at what 2013 has left in its film closet.

 

Genre: Crime, Thriller, Action

Director: Nicolas Winding Refn

Writer: Nicolas Winding Refn

Release Date: 02/08/13

Staring: Ryan Gosling, Kristin Scott Thomas

#5 Only God Forgives: For those who have seen the brilliant film that is Drive (2011) this is a sequel following the story of Julian (Ryan Gosling) 10 years later after fleeing to Thailand. Owning a boxing club, being the main man on a drugs front and an all round respected criminal he gets ordered to kill those who murdered his brother. Feeling the same emptiness and rage that he did in Drive I’m sure the action in this film will be amazing. Staring Ryan Gosling whose performance in Drive was thrilling and from the same director Nicolas Winding Refn you can expect the same quality meaning this film will definitely be a must watch.

Genre: Action, Adventure, Sci-Fi

Director: Francis Lawrence

Writers: Simon Beaufoy and Michael Arndt (Screenplay), Suzanne Collins (Novel)

Release Date: 22/11/13

Staring: Jenifer Lawrence, Liam Hemsworth

#4 The Hunger Games- Catching Fire: A sequel to the 2012 film The Hunger Games it follows  Katniss and Peeta after their victory in the 74th Hunger Games sparks a rebellion in the districts.  An inviting story and a great cast makes this film very much-anticipated, especially following its prequel it the Hunger Games Trilogy.

Genre: Comedy

Director: Adam McKay

Writers: Will Ferrell & Adam McKay

Release Date: 20/12/13

Staring: Will Ferrell, Steve Carell. Paul Rudd

#3 Anchorman- The Legend Continues: After the much famous success with Anchorman (2004) here comes a sequel, with an amazing all-star cast it provided us with many laughs and is possibly one of the most popular comedies. With Will Ferrell once again staring and writing it looks to have the same success and effect making it a film to look out for.

Genre: Horror

Director: Kimberly Peirce

Writers: Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa (Screenplay), Stephen King (Novel)

Release Date: 29/10/13

Staring: Chloe Grace Moretz, Julianne Moore, Judy Greer

#2 Carrie: A remake of the prestigious and greatly known 1976 horror, Carrie a lonely awkward teen is bullied at school and is beaten at home by her religious mother. However Carrie is blessed with an evil power and after a prank at her high school prom she teaches people a value lesson, If you play with fire, you’ll get burnt. With this film being tipped to be the best horror this year, better than Evil Dead (2013) this will definitely be a film people will flood to see.

Genre: Adventure, Fantasy

Director: Peter Jackson

Writers: Fran Walsh, Peter Jackson, Guillermo del Toro, Philippa Boyens

Release Date: 13/12/13

Staring: Martin Freeman, Elijah Woods

#1: The Hobbit-The Desolation of Smaug: The Hobbit the prequels to the most popular trilogy of all time, Lord Of The Rings are very  anticipated films. After the Unexpected Journey (2012) became a huge success and left us with a cliff-hanger you can expect the film to flood the box office with unbelievable sales. Following the story this time Bilbo (Martin Freeman) meets our golden dragon as he goes on his adventure.

That concludes my list of what I think the most top 5 most anticipated films will be for the rest of 2013 but I would like to hear what you think, comment below and let me know.