Saturday, December 21, 2013

The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug

The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug (2013)
       I just (literally!) got back from seeing this amazing movie! And I had to review it immediately! Wow! All I can really say is, WOW! It was incredible! Exciting! And just beautifully done! This one picks up right where the first one left off, but actually we're given a glimpse into Gandalf and Thorin's first meeting, in Bree at the Prancing Pony (Katie Jackson, Peter Jackson's daughter, has a brief cameo appearance in the scene as Thorin's waitress!). 12 months later we're shuttled to present day and are greeted by a familiar face...

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Bilbo Baggins
Martin Freeman as Bilbo Baggins in
The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug (2013)
       Master Bilbo Baggins, burglar and adventurer, is not the same Bilbo Baggins that left the Shire several months before. Much more independent and outspoken, Bilbo actually looks forward to the adventure the lays before him and time and again, Bilbo is relied upon to rescue Thorin and his company of Dwarves from danger. He has not only gained the respect of Thorin Oakenshield, but in a way almost a friendship. Aside from tapping into his instincts as a burglar, Bilbo becomes rather handy with his sword and even bestows a name upon it, after it has finally seen battle.

     Although, he is much more open to adventure, the lure of worldly goods begins to creep into Bilbo's heart and he starts to see first hand what greed does to someone's soul. Bilbo fears inward corruption if he is not careful with his possession of the Ring. Nothing frightens him more than the thought of turning into Gollum. To maim and kill for something that doesn't rightfully belong to him is not in his nature, but neither is being a burglar.

     As for Bilbo and Smaug...well you just have to see for yourself.

     As always, Martin Freeman was a wonderful and exceptional Bilbo Baggins. His charming and witty portrayal could have you laughing one moment and on the verge of tears the next. It was great to really see Bilbo's steady transition from homey hobbit to courageous journeyman and get a better understanding of who he became by the time we get to his elderly character in "The Lord of The Rings" that reminisce about his days of swords, dragons, gold and magical rings.

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Ian McKellan as Gandalf in
The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug (2013)
     Much like the first movie, Gandalf moves around quite a lot. Except now, he has become more assured with Bilbo's new found place among Thorin and his company. When not aiding the dwarves, he spends most of his time with Radagast the Brown and is seeking out the mystical and demonic Necromancer that dwells in the Mirkwood ruins of Dol Guldur. While there he witnesses an evil that has been forgotten, an evil he wished never to see again, the evil of The Great Eye, of Sauron himself.

     Although Gandalf is highly regarded and respected for his wisdom and knowledge of the world (as well as powers outside of their world) even he, a superhuman and wizard, cannot for foresee the danger the lies ahead for Thorin, Bilbo and the company of dwarves. And when he does it may be too late and he fears that he sent them all to their deaths.

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Thorin Oakenshield
(and Beorn)
Richard Armitage as Thorin Oakenshield in
The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug (2013)
      The closer Thorin, crownless king of Erabor, gets to the Lonely Mountains, the more passionate he becomes in his quest to reclaim his home, his kingdom and his people. He is still skeptical of other cultures in Middle Earth, but there are times when even his heart can be softened to the suffering of others. 

     Mainly in Beorn, a fierce, but kindly skin changer (transforms into a bear) who lives outside the Mirkwood forest, and whose people were slaughtered by Orcs and goblins. Now the only one of his kind left, he lives his life of solitude with his animals. Beorn tells the dwarves of his loss and even Thorin himself is moved. After Beorn gives them shelter and provision, he warns them of going into Mirkwood forest and taking care of what magical elements that may take them by surprise.

Ian McKellan as Gandalf and Mikael Persbrandt as Beorn in
The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug (2013)
     And taken by surprise they are, from spiders (of which Bilbo rescues them from), to jail (also Bilbo), to an orc attack between Mirkwood and Lake Town (this time by two elves and even his nephew Kili) and finally being rescued and smuggled by Bard the Bargeman. In spite of all of that, Thorin is not deterred by his mission to Erabor, not even when Kili is severely injured by an orc wound and is told he must stay behind.

     Thorin's desire to reclaim Erabor and gain back his grandfather's gold begins to take stronger root than his care for his friends. Even Balin warns him of the sickness that once dwelt in his grandfather and how that led to his destruction. Ambition and passion are all well and good when trying to achieve a goal, but once it replaces compassion, then the effects can be detrimental and in some cases irreversible. 

     Another grand performance from Richard Armitage who actually made Thorin somehwhat likable in this, meaning he wasn't so much of a hard ass toward Bilbo and was much more...affectionate (if that's the proper term concerning a dwarf) toward his young nephews. He even smiled on a few occasions too!

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King Thranduil of Mirkwood
Lee Pace as King Thranduil in
The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug (2013)
      As anyone will remember from the first movie, this guy made a name for himself because of his refusal to aid Thorin and his people when Smaug destroyed their city. Now this time around, he does give them jail. Hateful and untrusting of the dwarves, Thranduil will not risk the lives of his people (who are already at risk) to allow Thorin to continue his quest to the Lonely Mountains. 

     Although not a cruel elf by nature, Thranduil is a powerful elf and has no problem making enemies. He cares nothing about what may affect the outside world. As long as his lands and people are safe, the outside world of Middle Earth can do for itself. A belief that he has ground into his son, Prince Legolas, but not so in his ward, Tauriel. Thranduil has seen war and destruction, he has born it mentally and even physically and he doesn't care what culture is sacrificed as long as it it not his own.

     Thranduil is either you hate him or you love. In some ways he can come off as very arrogant, which is rare for elves, and other times he can be very wise. He is an example of the fallen nature of all beings and the elves are no exception. Thranduil's sin of remission and shutting the world out may cost him dearly, even if it's his own son.

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Orlando Bloom as Legolas in
The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug (2013)
     Prince, warrior, guard and his father's second in command, Legolas Greenleaf, Prince of Mirkwood is a  passionate and cautious elf who will protect his father's kingdom no matter what. Even if he disagrees with his father's rules, Legolas will never question or challenge him. He is loyal and devoted to his father and king, but even he cannot not ignore the stirring's of dark change outside the gates of Mirkwood. When the time comes, he is encouraged by his best friend, Tauriel, and ignores his father's instructions to help the outside world, in spite of what the ending result may be. Legolas can no longer look back.

     It's always great to see a familiar face (whether in a movie or real life) and seeing Orlando Bloom reprising the role that sky rocketed him to fame (as well as the hearts of girls all around the world) was like seeing an old friend again. In many ways, Legolas hasn't changed at all by the time he makes his appearance in Lord of The Rings. Still stubborn and unwilling to change the ways that he has grown up with, Legolas was probably a little shocked when he ran into some familiar territory at the Council of Elrond, only we all know how that turned out in the end.

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Evangeline Lily as Tauriel in
The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug (2013)
     At only 600 years old, Tauriel is still considered very young by elven standards, but her youth doesn't deter her from her extraordinary skills as a fighter and as the head of Thranduil's guard. Unusually curious for an elf, Tauriel sometimes questions the outside world and why she and her kind don't have more of a role in it. Thranduil waves it off as childish curiosity and insists that her only place is in Mirkwood. That doesn't stop her from asking questions, even if it's from (what she has been raised to believe) her enemies. Tauriel strikes up an unlikely friendship with the handsome dwarf Kili, while he's in jail and tells her of his mild adventures in the Blue Mountains, much to the annoyance of Legolas.

     When the dwarves escape and Tauriel and Legolas try to reclaim them, they are met with a fierce orc attack, which makes her believe that her place is outside of Mirkwood, regardless of what Thranduil says. She and Legolas follow the dwarves and orcs to the quiet, destitute city of Lake Town, where they protect the town from the unexpected orc invasion and she performs a gracious act of mercy and heals Kili of his orc wound.

     Okay, so there's a story here. My family spent the entire summer totally engrossed in the LOST series where Evangeline Lily played the role of Kate Austin, so when we found out that she was going to be in The Hobbit, we were excited. In many ways her character of Tauriel isn't to different from the character of Kate; both are independent, stubborn and born fighters. I really enjoyed the character of Tauriel not just because she was beautiful or a skilled warrior, but also because of her kind friendship with Kili and doing what is right, even if it means you are doing it alone.

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Bard the Bargeman
Luke Evans as Bard in
The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug (2013)
     A quiet, hardworking widower and father of three young children, Bard only wants to get through the day by doing his job as a bargeman with no trouble and get home to his family in Lake Town. Trouble becomes inevitable when he encounters a company of thirteen dwarves and one hobbit who need to be smuggled into Lake Town without anyone noticing. He refuses at first, but when offered money, that can provide food and clothing for his children, Bard accepts.

     His children, Sigrid, Dain and Tilda are the only happiness he has in his life. It's hinted that he still mourns the death of his wife, even though he never says so. His children adore their father who loves them dearly and will do whatever it takes to protect and provide for them. 

Luke Evans as Bard, Peggy Nesbitt as Sigrid, Mary Nesbitt as Tilda
and John Bell as Dain in "The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug" (2013)
    Lake Town is a cold and poor town built on the water and filled with busybodies and gossips. People will stop at nothing to turn one another in, if it means making a little money off of it. Bard is one of only a handful of good people in the corrupt town that is run by the selfish Master of Lake Town and his conniving private secretary Alfrid, of which both have the noble and honorable Bard pegged for being a possible leader of future rebellions. 

     When Bard discovers the true purpose for Thorin's quest, he can only sense destruction and death for the people of Lake Town and tries to stop him. The Master of Lake Town, fueled by greed and hatred for Bard, whose own ancestor failed to kill Smaug when he attacked, welcomes Thorin and sends him willingly to the Lonely Mountains. Yet, Bard will not be ignored and is determined to protect his family from the danger he senses will come if Smaug is released.

     A definite favorite of mine, Bard is briefly mentioned a couple of times in the book and fleshing out his role in the movie was well done. I loved the fact that he was a poor widower with three young children and so he's fighting really for them and not for Lake Town. 

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The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug (2013)
     The one aspect that was exciting about this movie was that there were at least four stories going on at the same time, so just when you getting into one story, it would switch to another one. All of the storylines were equally balanced as well, so you got just enough from the dwarves and Bilbo (and eventually Smaug), the elves, Gandalf and Radagast, and from Lake Town. Which is good because I had heard that most of the story had been about Thranduil and the elves, but Thranduil had about 15 min. of screen time and Legolas and Tauriel were incorporated into the story easily.

     Wonderful, fun, exciting and scary too! The spiders were terrifying, but Smaug was by far the best! I was expecting him to be creepy, but he was downright the stuff of nightmares. I don't want to go into too much detail though. All I can tell you is that it ends on about the worst (or best) cliffhanger you can imagine.

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