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.

 

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Hot Fuzz (2007)

Genre: Action Comedy

Director: Egdar Wright

Writers. Simon Pegg, Egdar Wright

 Staring: Simon Pegg, Nick Frost

 Rating: ★★★½

 After huge success with 2004 “zom-com” Shaun Of The Dead, comedy duo Nick Frost and Simon Pegg pair up again to create Hot Fuzz. Simon Pegg also pairing to co-write with Egdar Wright  once again, Hot Fuzz is another hugely hilarious brilliant film, with constant entertainment. It makes many references to their previous film, with Nick Frost still addicted to cornetos. It makes further references to other famous films also providing many laughs with their “Brit wit” sense of humour.

 

Simon Pegg plays London cop Nicholas Angel, but he isn’t any ordinary officer, he lives for his job and his job is his life. Sick and tired of his constant arrests and being too good for his job, fellow colleagues such as (Bill Baily) and his sergeant (Martin Freeman) transfers him to a small English village town of Sanford. With no choice in the matter he travels to the supposedly quiet little town of Sanford however it isn’t as quiet as suspected as a series of unordinary  “accidents” occur. Officer Angel is paired with local moron and lazeabout PC Danny Butterman who just happens to be the inspectors son (Jim Broadbent) Danny’s usual day consists of buying cornetos and then the pub however this is all about to change now he has Nicholas Angel as his partner. 

The comedy duo Nick Frost and Simon Pegg have huge success again keeping you constantly laughing with gags and goose changing. The film itself leaves the duo to provide laughter with the storyline providing the action. However Hot Fuzz isn’t just a normal action film with explosions and guns it takes a twist involving the elderly and reversing stereotypes. Although tense it made me laugh as well as being glued to the screen. It surprised me with how they presented deaths, although set in a small village it wasn’t pitchforks and shotguns but gruesome deaths that also play homage to other well-known films. The film fuels on the duo of Nicholas Angel and Danny Butterman investigating the link to all these “accidents”. Once realising the truth, that I will not reveal they are then spilt between two decisions and have to work out what’s for the greater good. 

The acting in Hot Fuzz for me is outstanding, Nick Frost and Simon Pegg are brilliant once again. Simon Pegg and Egdar Wright deserve a lot of credit for their storyline, it’s unique, funny and action packed. The laughs in this film are great and big, and so is the action. The supporting cast is also great alongside the cameos of well-known actors including Steve Merchant, Steve Coogab and Bill Nighly previously used in Shaun Of The Dead. Hot Fuzz certainly ticks a lot of the right boxes, if you loved Shaun Of The Dead you will love this as it lives up to its standard. One that will make you laugh and another must watch.