The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug is a 2013 epic fantasy adventure film co-written, produced and directed by Peter Jackson. It is the second installment of a three-part film series based on J. R. R. Tolkien‘s 1937 novel The Hobbit, beginning with An Unexpected Journey (2012) and set to conclude with There and Back Again (2014). The three films together act as a prequel to Jackson’s The Lord of the Rings film series.
The storyline continues the events of An Unexpected Journey, in which the hobbit Bilbo Baggins (Martin Freeman) travels with the wizard Gandalf (Ian McKellen) and a company of thirteen dwarves led by Thorin Oakenshield (Richard Armitage) into the Kingdom of Erebor, taking them through Mirkwood, Esgaroth, and Dale to combat with the dragon Smaug (Benedict Cumberbatch).
Jackson wrote the screenplay with his longtime collaborators and Lord of the Rings co-writers Fran Walsh and Philippa Boyens, and Guillermo del Toro, originally chosen to direct the Hobbit films. The film also stars Evangeline Lilly, Lee Pace,Luke Evans, Ken Stott, James Nesbitt and Orlando Bloom.
The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug premiered on 2 December 2013 in Los Angeles, and was released internationally on 11 December 2013. Like its predecessor, the film used a shooting and projection frame rate of 48 frames per second. The new projection rate was advertised as “High Frame Rate” to the public.
A flashback set in the human town of Bree reveals Gandalf the Grey persuading Thorin Oakenshield to obtain the Arkenstone so that the latter can become the King of Erebor. Gandalf mentions that a stealthy burgler – Bilbo Baggins – needs to be recruited to steal the item from the dragon-guarded mountain. Twelve months later, not long after the end of the previous film, Bilbo along with Gandalf, Thorin and the Dwarven company are chased by the Orcs down from the Carrock, where they encounter the bear form of a charging skin-changer, Beorn. Gandalf urges the company to seek refuge in a nearby house which happens to be the abode of the calm human-form of Beorn. After expressing his hatred of Orcs over that of Dwarves, Beorn loans his horses to the company so that they can outrun the pursuing Orcs.
Gandalf departs before the others enter Mirkwood, urging Bilbo and the dwarves to follow the forest path and to wait for him before entering the mountain. After losing their way in the forest, the dwarves are captured by giant spiders. Bilbo, with the help of his invisibility ring, manages to free them from the webs of the spiders. However, while figthing the attacking spiders, the dwarves are captured by the Wood-elves.
Tauriel, a female elf, becomes enamoured with Kili, one of the imprisoned dwarves. As a result, feelings of jealousy are evoked within Legolas, the son of the Elf King Thranduil, when he discovers it.
Under the cloak of his ring, Bilbo steals the keys and helps the dwarves to escape from the Elf Kingdom using empty wine barrels that float down the river. Along the way, they are attacked by the Orcs who had been lying in wait. While trying to open the river gate, Kili is injured by a poisoned orc arrow. Subsequently, Bilbo and the gang meet Bard, a bowman and descendant of the orginal Lord of Dale, who was waiting to collect the empty barrels in his river barge. Pooling their coins to bribe Bard to smuggle them inside Lake-town, the gang are eventually captured by the Master of the Town when they try to steal battle-worthy weaponry. After Thorin convinces the townfolk and Master that they will share the riches of the recaptured mountain, the adventurers receive a grand send-off.
Meanwhile, the Elf King learns from a captured orc that “The One” has returned, and so decides to seal off the Elf Kingdom to protect it from the impending evil. However, Tauriel leaves to help the injured Kili and a concerned Legolas gives chase.
At the mountain, Bilbo deciphers the Last Light of Durin’s Day clue and uses the moonlight to locate the hidden keyhole that opens the secret door into the mountain. After entering, Bilbo attempts to steal the Arkenstone by himself, but is discovered by the awakened dragon, Smaug. At the same time, Gandalf knowingly steps into the orc-ambushed Dol Guldur and engages the Necromancer in a fierce battle.
The elf pair arrives in the nick of time to fight off the attacking orcs in Lake-town before splitting up. Tauriel attends to the wounded Kili using her healing magic while Legolas chases after the retreating orcs. Sensing that something foreboding would happen, Bard, tries to affix a Black Arrow to the town’s launcher so that it can pierce the weakened spot of the dragon that was spotted by Bilbo earlier. However, he is captured by the Master’s men before he can do so.
Eventually, the dwarves enter the mountain to rescue Bilbo. Tricking the fire-breathing Smaug to rekindle the forge using his fiery flames, they attempt to kill the dragon by drowning him in molten gold. However, Smaug stumbles out of the mountain and takes to air, shaking off the gold-coating and heads toward Lake-Town to wreck havoc and to seek revenge.
This was a great movie, with the excellent special effects we have come to expect from Peter Jackson and crew. The dragon, Smaug is just plain awesome. Even though our magnificent dragon does not appear until the last third of the film, it is he you will go home remembering. The romance between Tauriel and Kili is not necessary, but I suppose it is better with it there. All in all they are doing the book justice, even if you can read the whole book, “The Hobbit” faster than you can watch part one of the movies. I highly recommend this film, especially if you liked part one. Smaug is AWESOME! 5 Stars – MR