Dave’s 3-Word Review:
Much, much better.
Being a huge fan of the Lord of the Rings series, I was a bit disappointed in the first Hobbit film, but I tried my hardest not to compare both series when I reviewed the first film. In general, I truly believe that any epic film should have a diverse and varied cast – a number of people that you can list off one by one because you love them so much. I’m not even talking LOTR now, I’m now talking about any epic film series – including Star Wars and Star Trek. Trekkies could list off every member of the U.S.S. Enterprise, and probably from any season. Same goes for Star Wars, and the Skywalker family/the teams that accompany them. The Hobbit? Well, you can list off Bilbo, Gandalf, and Thorin…and then most of us will blend the others together. The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug definitely did things better this time around, and I found myself loving this a lot more than the first.
The plot…well…the plot is clearly just a continuation of the last film, so what we really have is the bridge to the third and final film, which means that story development isn’t going to be all that. We already know that. What we don’t know is how it’s going to get from Point A to Point B, and the way they do it here is nothing short of stupendous. Basically, these Dwarves and Hobbit must travel through a drug-induced forest, battle more orcs and spiders, before coming face to face with the one, the only, Legolas. With him is Tauriel (Evangeline Lilly), and together they do some whomping. Anyways, this is called Desolation of Smaug, so we can expect this film to feature a lot of this creature, and as the trailer suggests, it sure does.
Now, because I wasn’t hugely fond of the first film, some of my worries did carry over. Like…my expectation that the rest of the cast would be in the film, regardless of how many of them could have easily been re-cast without our knowledge. That’s how forgettable these people are, and for an epic series, you need people we can care about. Do we need to? Technically no, not to understand the story, but having characters that you can love changes a movie from being good to being oh my gosh amazing. Just saying. That being said, they did me proud.
By adding in Legolas and Tauriel alone, they have mixed things up and created a variation. Suddenly, you start caring about the characters more because the way they interact with other races becomes something you can laugh at, and enjoy that much better. The character development in Bilbo is rapidly becoming something we’re all familiar with…the greed and possessiveness of a Hobbit carrying a ring. It’s only introduced a little here, but it’s hinting at what’s to come, and from what I recall from LOTR, I can’t wait.
Now, the great thing about the first Hobbit film was the fact that a lot of the scenes were really memorable. It was one of those films that you could say – oh, that’s the one where this happened, or that happened. This one was also memorable, but in a different way. Instead of having a bunch of small memorable scenes, you get probably two really long memorable sequences. Two may be a small number, but these sequences don’t let up, and they go on for several, several minutes, and they have you more invested in the film than you were in the last one. Remember, one of the major sequences of the first one was all the dwarves eating at Bilbo’s house for an entire hour. How exciting.
The music was probably the most forgettable in this film versus not only the first Hobbit, but the entire Middle Earth series as well. However, because I was more invested in the story, action, and characters, I didn’t really care as much, honestly. I was just so happy to see Legolas back. Orlando Bloom hasn’t been in…anything noteworthy, really, since the LOTR and Pirates of the Caribbean series, so I welcome him with open arms. Now, Tauriel, who was created solely for this series, was so perfect. Not only because she kicked tail, but because she made me care about another dwarf…one of the dwarves that was invisible to me in the first film. That’s something else.
As far as story progression goes, I believe we have a bit more to look forward to. The action in this film was intense, as long sequences that seemingly never cut away continue to make us laugh and remember the good ol’ days of LOTR, and that is always a good thing. Also, mixing up the cast and making it more diverse switched things up and made me like it so much more.
Sorry, but I don’t think I’m letting up on this one…too many dwarves that I still don’t care about. Kill ‘em off, re-cast them…I don’t care, I wouldn’t even notice anyway.
Dori: Was that an earthquake?
Balin: That, my lad, was a dragon.