10 Favorite Things about The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug

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Much has been debated about whether or not it’s a good idea that The Hobbit gets the same trilogy treatment as The Lord of the Rings trilogy when there is only one book being adapted. Now, I actually didn’t mind it and given how much I adore the Middle Earth universe, I welcome the extended film adaptation.

My interest in these movies increased tenfold when the casting was announced. It’s chock-full of my favorite actors, with Richard Armitage topping that list, then Lee Pace, Luke Evans, the BBC Sherlock duo Martin Freeman and Benedict Cumberbatch, and of course the LOTR veteran Ian McKellen back as Gandalf. All of them did a wonderful job bringing their respective characters to life. Heck I even like Orlando Bloom as Legolas, I’m not fond of him as an actor but I can’t imagine anyone else in that role.

So here are 10 things I love about the second part of The Hobbit trilogy:

10. The livelier pace
Right of the bat, the film feels more energetic as we finally get to the quest in question. There’s a bit of a flashback scene with Thorin and Gandalf that sets everything up, and since it features my favorite Brit Richard Armitage, I certainly welcome this intro ;)

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There are half a dozen major action-packed sequences that really genuinely thrilling, so despite some slower moments, the 161-min running time still feels like a breeze. There is even more sense of urgency to get to Erebor and it definitely makes me even more eager to finally get there myself.


9. The fantastic special effects and set pieces
The technological wizardry is what you’ve come to expect from Peter Jackson movies. As I’ve posted the film production trivia a few days ago, you’ll see that it took a bazillion production workers nd extras, as well as props, prosthetics, sets etc. to bring the Tolkien universe to life. But it’s the endless imagination of PJ and his crews that really makes these films such a fun escapist experience. Ok so there are some sequences that look digitally animated but with a fantasy film like this, it certainly comes with the territory. I’ve also gotten used to seeing it in 3D High Frame Rate(48Frames/Second) and I have to say I enjoyed it even more this time around.

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I even enjoyed the Spider attack scene in the forest though the amazing details on those giant spiders did give me the heebie-jeebies! There are so much details to creating each character and creature, as well as the new settings such as Lake Town and the dwarves kingdom of Erebor that virtually transport you to Middle Earth.

8. The adventure in Lake-town
The addition of Luke Evans as Bard definitely adds more excitement to the story and there’s more adventure in store for Thorin & co. even just getting into the fictitious community of Men upon the Long Lake.

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They took a chance with Bard, not knowing if he’d betray him, so it adds to the suspense. It also features one of the funniest bits of the movie, which is a great continuation from the wine barrel escape (more on that later). There’s also some fun scene with always amusing Stephen Fry as the Master of Lake-town, as well as some action packed sequence involving the Orcs and Elves. The town itself is beautiful to look at, apparently Peter Jackson and his crew built about 40 buildings on caster to make up the town.

7. The strong link to the Lord of the Rings story
Gandalf is separated from Bilbo and the Dwarf group this time around, working with his fellow wizard Radagast to get to The Dol Guldur. Inside the ruins is the creepiest sequence of all the film as Gandalf had to confront the Necromancer (once again voiced by Benedict Cumberbatch).

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The terrifying eye of Sauron once again makes an appearance, establishing just what is REALLY at stake beyond the quest involving the Dwarves getting their gold back from a dragon. The duel between Gandalf vs. Necromancer reminds me a bit of the scene where he fought the Balrog creature in an epic battle in which he fell down the Bridge. There’s something so sinister seeing an imprisoned Gandalf watch the Orc army marching off towards the Lonely Mountain and he can’t stop them.

6. The awesomely bad-ass Elves
I always like the elves from The Lord of the Rings trilogy, but here, led by Legolas and the Woodland Elf Tauriel. She’s not in the book so I think purists might have a different opinion about her (and Legolas appearing in The Hobbit), but I quite like Evangeline Lily as the warrior Elven princess. As the head of the Elven guard, she’s definitely as bad ass as Legolas, who’s even more swift and agile with his bow and arrows. They both move at breakneck speed as they fight the Orcs, yet there’s something so graceful and elegant about their moves that are so fun to watch. There’s an interesting dynamic between Legolas and Tauriel, hinting at a romance between the two (though seems like Tauriel has more of a thing with Thorin’s nephew Kili, played by the gorgeous Aidan Turner, in this movie).

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One of my favorite scenes from the LOTR trilogy are those set in the ethereal Rivendell, now in this sequel, we’re taken to where the Wood-elves and its leader Thranduil live. I always enjoy the long shot of the lush and beautiful vista of the Elves’ dwelling place. Lee Pace‘s Thranduil has a bit more to do in this sequel, as there are memorable exchanges with Thorin as well as with his son Legolas.

5. Finally getting to Erebor
At the end of the first movie, when everyone was at the top of the large rock and saw the Lonely Mountain in the distance, I remember how I couldn’t wait for the gang to finally reach it. Well, it was so worth the wait!

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There’s something so emotional about the sequence when they finally reach that abandoned palace. It’s apparent that Bilbo and the band of Dwarfs are so weary after such a long journey, both physically and emotionally, so it’s such a huge joy to see them finally reaching their destination. Bilbo once again saves the day and we get to live vicariously through him as his REAL adventure begins as he reach the mountain of gold and jewels… and finally having to face the Dwarves’ arch nemesis!


4. Thorin! Thorin! Thorin!
It’s no surprise that I have a special fondness for Richard Armitage‘s character, but really, can you blame me? It’s one of the best casting choice in The Hobbit, a close second after Martin Freeman as Bilbo. Armitage has even more to do here (yay!) and he sure delivers with stately gravitas. Armitage didn’t sing again here, but he gets to showcase his thunderous deep voice of his in several occasions,  especially in the scene in Lake-town when he appeals to the Master and the people of the town about his quest. I also love that he gets to show his range here as an actor, obviously displaying leading-man charisma but also a certain vulnerability and even tenderness.

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There’s an emotional scene as the gang reaches Erebor, starting with indescribable joy that soon turns to grave disappointment. Thorin displays one of his rare smiles, he’s actually grinning ear to ear at the possibility of finally entering his palace once more, but within minutes we see how his high spirits quickly leaves him. It’s all on display on his expressive face as the camera zooms in on him. His humanity is palpable, here we really see Thorin as not just a leader on a mission, but a man on a very personal journey that means everything to him and the people he loves.


3. The Wine Barrel scene
There’s been many discussions of this escape sequence in many interviews and boy, it definitely lives up to the hype!! If you don’t remember anything about this film, you’d likely remember this one. The scene of getting into the barrel itself is a hoot, which was big enough to fit a couple of Dwarves (well one for the extremely obese Bombur). Once they get to the Celduin river, all hell break lose!

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It’s such a huge rush to watch this scene, no wonder filming this seems to be the most memorable for the cast involved! Not only do they have to survive being bounced around in the river, which runs from the Lonely Mountain south through the Long Lake with some fierce streams, they also have to battle the ugly and vicious Orcs (or Goblins as known in the Hobbit books). The fight scenes involving the three different races (Goblins, Elves and Dwarves) along that river are relentless and exciting, definitely one of the most exhilarating action sequences of the year.


2. Bilbo the hero
What I appreciate most about this film is that each challenges Bilbo, Thorin and the gang encounter built on their character. I think Bilbo’s character arc is even more fleshed out. He told Gandalf that he’s found his courage and though it was told as an alibi, he’s certainly not lying as he’s evolved to be a brave fighter of his own right. The way he rescued the dwarves from the giant spiders show his growing strength and deftness with the sword, but my favorite part is his scene in Erebor.

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He still has his whimsy intact, which makes me love Martin Freeman‘s casting even more. The way he moves and all his nervous gestures are part of his charms and why it’s so effortless to root for him. His zany-ness makes for pure comedic gold, even when he’s literally surrounded by gold trying to find the Arkenstone, which is like finding needle in a haystack!
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1. Smaug
The mythical dragon is everything it’s cracked up to be and more! When Bilbo inevitably wakes him up with all the ruckus, it turns out the lonely dragon is one chatty giant lizard. I guess he’s been all alone for so long with nobody to talk to that he simply can’t shut up, ahah. Benedict Cumberbatch did some motion capture on top of just providing the voice of Smaug, which gives it such a lifelike realism to the creature.

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We get to see every bit of Smaug in its glorious detail from head to toe, which is all kinds of awesome. He’s slithering about tormenting Bilbo with his enormous presence, but it’s the banter between the two that I enjoy the most. It’s dramatic as well as hilarious that I wish the Smaug sequence could’ve been longer! Nice to see the BBC Sherlock duo together again, Cumberbatch’s wit and that iconic voice certainly creates enough of a presence that it was fun to see him interact with Martin Freeman.

The final confrontation with Thorin & co. is thrilling as they’re trying to outwit and outmaneuver the sly Smaug. With Gandalf being away facing off against an even darker power of evil, Bilbo and the Dwarves are pretty much on their own. “If this is to end in fire, then we will all burn together,” Thorin proclaims defiantly, and the fight in Erebor is certainly a fiery one.

I really enjoyed the Smaug sequences that when he flew away and the closing credits came on, I felt like it was a tad too soon!


Kili (Aidan Turner)

Kili (Aidan Turner)

Now, I wish I could give this film a 5/5 but there are some REALLY slow moments that I feel grounds the film to a halt. One scene in particular is the lengthy flirty banter between Tauriel and Kili. Now, as Tauriel isn’t even in the book, I can”t imagine that scene is crucial to the story. It’s also odd given that there was much talk about Tauriel & Legolas romance that we barely see. Kili gets a lot more screen time in this film, so I’m curious about his character arc in the final installment.

Overall, it’s a great follow-up of an epic journey. The ending promises that even more lives are at stake in Middle Earth with Smaug being unleashed. Boy I’m even more eager to see the final film.

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4 out of 5 reels

So what do you think of The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug? Let me know your thoughts in the comments.

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41 thoughts on “10 Favorite Things about The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug

  1. I agree on most of what you listed there, it’s a definitely a better movie than the first one. I plan to see it again later this week, just to compare the IMAX’s surround sound to Dolby Atmos, although I don’t look forward to seeing it in HFR, the IMAX version was shown in standard 24fps. I just don’t like the look of video game in 48fps.

    A few things I was disappointed with, the spiders sequence was way too short, in the book it’s very elaborate and longer, I was hoping Jackson would recreate that for the big screen but I guess he prefer to give the barrel sequence more attention, it wasn’t that complicated in the book. The love triangle storyline just didn’t work for me, it’s just filler and not that interesting. I liked Evangeline Lily’s performance but her character was just there to be the “girl” since there weren’t any in the book. And apparently she was not happy that they decided to include the love triangle storyline since she’s already involved in another love triangle in “Lost”.

    I thought it’s great that they expand Bard in the movie, in the book he sort of just showed up and we don’t know much about him. Evans was great in the role, my assumption is he’ll even have a bigger role in the third film, especially in the big climatic showdown in the Battle of the Five Armies, I can’t wait to see that!

    All in all I thought it’s a great movie and I feel like I’m back in middle earth again, the first one was way too long and disjointed to me. It’s still not as good as Fellowship or Two Towers but i’d rank it the same as Return of the King.

    • Hi Ted, oh I bet it would look spectacular on IMAX, boy I should’ve done that this time around. The scenery alone would be worth the price of admission! Ahah, I hear ya about the video game look, but for some reason I’ve gotten used to it by now.

      You think the spider sequence is too short?? I thought it was pretty long but maybe ’cause I HATE spiders!! It’s so gross-looking, a little too realistic, ahah. Yep, the love triangle thing is silly, wish they just leave it between Legolas and Tauriel, I feel that the exchange between her and Kili is a bit cheesy.

      Yeah Bard is great, Luke Evans has a charismatic presence so it’s nice to see him even briefly. That’ll be cool to see more of him in the third film, too.

      It’s always lovely to be back in Middle Earth again :)

      • Yeah that spiders attack sequence was more exiting in the book, I thought for sure for the movie Jackson would make it even more exiting to watch, but I guess he prefer to spend more time on the barrel escape scene.

        Now I’m just assuming since I know what will happen to Kili in the third movie, assuming Jackson stays true to the book, that this love triangle will sort of pay off in the last movie. But never the less, it’s still cheesy subplot that I could’ve done without.

        Since I know you’re a fan of Lee Pace, he’ll have an even bigger role in the third movie, same with Evans’ Bard. The Battle of the Five Armies should be epic! Can’t wait to see it.

  2. Haven’t seen it yet, but I remain skeptical. Though it is generating enough positive buzz that I’m sure I’ll see it eventually. I see so many new releases, after all. ;-)

    • Are you not fond of the first film James? For me, I LOVE Tolkien’s world so naturally I’m predisposed to liking it, but I think the movie itself is a good escapist fun :D

      • I wouldn’t say I disliked the first film. Just that I didn’t love it, like I love the LOTR movies. Probably would give the first Hobbit movie a C or a C-.

        Part of the problem, I’m sure, is that I don’t really like Tolkien.

        Another part of the problem is I think Jackson’s choices with the Hobbit quite odd. The book is a light-hearted children’s fable, not a dark, ominous pre-adventure to The Lord of the Rings, which is what Jackson is doing to it.

        But we’ll see. Maybe The Desolation of Smaug will change my mind on this new trilogy.

  3. Great review/list of things you liked, I had a brilliant time watching this film :D

    Its still a bit too long but if I had to stay in any imaginary world middle earth isn’t too bad ;D

    Smaug stole the show and I am glad he did, great visuals and just an all over better film than the first hobbit, hope the trend continues into part 3 :D

    • Hi there Mark! I think you’ll have a blast with this one when you get to see it. So thrilled to hear about your documentary gig, how awesome is that!!! I’m gonna respond to your email today, thanks so much for sharing the great news, my friend!

  4. Last year I was excited and couldn’t wait for the first Hobbit movie to come out. I was somewhat disappointed and probably the main reason I still haven’t seen the second installment yet this year. But the positive reviews has reignited my interest! The power of the Ring is two strong it seems!

    • Ahah, the power of the Ring is indeed VERY strong! Interesting to see Bilbo fall under its spell a few times too, just like Frodo did. I hope you like this one even more Asrap, for me, there are PLENTY to like :D

  5. The thing that I liked best about this film is simple: it was far less silly than the first one. Like the LOTR movies it treats the subjects seriously so it allows the audience to take them seriously, too. After using the one dwarf as comic relief in the LOTR films, Jackson just let himself go wild in the first Hobbit film with 13 dwarves. Even though the Hobbit is a lighter book than LOTR I felt the tone of the first film hurt it by going too far towards the goofy side. There’s a reason Tom Bombadil was left out of The Fellowship of the Ring: all his mad capering and singing would have looking foolish onscreen. Throw in his “hippy chick” Goldberry and a lot of viewers would have discounted the first LOTR film right then. With the first Hobbit film it’s as if Jackson felt he had a license to get away with anything now after having proven himself with LOTR. It sounds like when they were editing the second Hobbit film they intentionally drew back on the goofiness and pumped up the action and heroism, and I feel it is much better for it.

    • Hi Chip, you made a good point that it’s less silly than the first one, esp. that whole ruckus at Bilbo’s house that lasted a good 20 min or so. I’m liking the more solemn version of this one, there’s still a lot of fun and exciting adventures, but we get just what’s really at stake in their journey. Thanks for the great comment!

  6. Love your list! I saw it yesterday and I was really amazed, I liked it much more than the first one. Truly much more livelier pace and ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh, Benedict Cumberbatch. Ahhhhhhh.

    • Hi Elina! Glad to hear you’re in my camp! Ahah yeah, Benedict is awesome isn’t he? You can’t see him but definitely felt his *presence.* :D

  7. Really enjoyed reading this, Ruth, your Top 10 Lists are always fun. :) I’m personally still not totally sold on this movie, considering I really didn’t enjoy the first all that much, but I’ll admit I do want to check it out. If anything to finally see Cumberatch as Smaug, which just sounds too awesome to pass up on. :)

    • Hi Billy, thanks, I’m glad you enjoyed my Top 10 :D I hope you give this a shot, who knows it just might win you over. Cumberbatch as Smaug definitely did NOT disappoint!

  8. Yup, can’t disagree, these are all aspects that truly make this film pretty damn great. Though I’d personally place the elves higher, as they stole the whole damn show for me (yes, even more than Smaug! :O ).

    • Hey there Chris! Glad you enjoyed the film. I love the elves too, but more than Smaug eh? But hey, it’s splitting hairs really, I think there are plenty to appreciate here, I really like Evangeline Lily’s take on Tauriel. Nice to see a female character getting some play here.

  9. I really cannot wait to see this one, I heard it’s much better than the first and your description of that scene with Richard’s expressive face conveying different emotions will probably leave me breathless :)

    • Hi Sati! Our boy Richard looks positively rugged and hunky here, even at 5’2″! That moment at Erebor is heart-wrenching and Richard’s emotion in that scene really gets me. He’s such a versatile actor who needs to get MORE work, come on Hollywood!!

  10. Love this post! I saw the film twice over the weekend, and it’s a blast. I rewatched the first Hobbit film recently, and it really is too long. However, I actually wanted part 2 to keep going. Can’t wait for the conclusion!

    • Wow, you saw it twice in one weekend Josh? I thought I was The Hobbit’s biggest fan ;) Glad you enjoyed it, yeah I wish it could go on too, the last half hour was quite a blast!

  11. Pingback: A Very Unnecessary Review of The Hobbit: Desolation of Smaug | totally biased and completely unnecessary movie reviews

  12. This is a nice post…when you break it down into 10 reasons, it does sound like a great movie. I saw it in IMAX (IMAX virgin no more now ;) ), ut was a great experience…but the movie bored me. Half of it made me want to grab a remote control to fast forward it. I will write my review somewhere today.

    I am glad you like it, many seem to love it (but me).

    Bennedict was busy in this movie, necromancer and smaug, they should pay him double ;)

    • Hey Nov, which IMAX did you go to? When I was growing up, the only IMAX was at Keong Emas, ahah.

      There are some slower moments in the middle and the extra content involving Kili and Tauriel did slow things down too much. But overall I really enjoyed it, obviously I LOVED the cast and Richard as Thorin was brilliant, as was Benny w/ the two roles. Ahah yeah he probably did get paid double ;)

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  15. Great write up Ruth! Hope you’ll check my take out on Tuesday. I certainly hate your opinion on several of your points. Armitage is really, really good. Also, NO ONE could have voiced Smaug better than Cumberbatch. Perfect casting there. And the barrel scene – WOW!!!!

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