"I am Fire.....I am Death" Well folks, we are half way through our trilogy on The Hobbit. Two films down, one to go. Would you say that I'm excited for it? You sure would, why? Well, it could just be how quickly this film ended, it ended without so much as a conclusion and when the screen turned to black, I just thought to myself, 'Is the film broken'? Well, sadly it wasn't that truly was the ending. Another thing you may ask was ''Is this a good film?' And I would say 'It sure was'. Not kidding, the film was actually good, not great, as in 'Gravity' or 'Mud' great, but good. The film still shares the same issues as in the first film, but for the most part this is a good film. Now onto my review, starting with the issues. The issues I had in this film were the opening, script, pacing, and character-development. It is very unusual for me to criticize the opening of any movie, I promise you. And I thought it would be even harder to criticize the opening for this one, sense it was quite obvious that it would start up right where it ended in Part 1, well at least to me it was the obvious opening, but I guess it wasn't. Instead, we are greeted to our lead, Bilbo looking out at a pack of Orcs with their wolfs. And I'm thinking to myself when this starts playing 'What the... Weren't they just picked up by eagles and put down on the edge of a mountain?'. Yeah, and so we next see Bilbo run down to the rest of his company, telling them about the Orcs. During this I'm thinking, 'Um, where are we? Why are Orcs following you?'. You see what I mean? Confusing right? Just what I was thinking, I mean if you're going to start up the middle chapter of a book, why not start it where the first half ended. I mean that's the most logical way to start it. No, instead you start it in the middle of whatever is going on, leaving viewers confused as to what they are witnessing. Another issue I had with the film was the script. The script spends so little time explaining what's going on that it confuses you. I wished the script had spent at least 10 more minutes at Beorn's house, as it makes no sense, so the bear is chasing the company into the house looking like it's trying to kill them, then he's letting them stay in there? What? A little more time in the script should have been spent at Beorn's house, so as to develop his character, as a skin changer sounds pretty neat and it would have been even better if he would have explained it to the dwarfs and did more for them you know? You already know I didn't like the opening, and why is it like that? Well, it's the script of course! The script slips up a lot, as it doesn't know how to distribute enough pages and time to. Like, you remember the spiders? Well, you get like 5 minutes of screen time with them, so it's like 'Why are there spiders?'. It would have been darker and fun if you had more time with the spiders talking and Bilbo throwing things at them, you know? But the script rushes right through that. Plus, the script rushes straight threw 'Lake Town'. The script focuses only a very small portion on the characters of 'Master of the Lake Town' and 'Bard the Bowman'. I mean there was so much potential there, but the script rushes through that so that the company can get to Smaug. The final issue with the script isn't really an issue, it's just something I loved and wish there was more of. And that was Smaug, and Bilbo's conversation, which I found hauntingly dark, scary, funny, and exciting all at the same time. I just wished that that part of the script was longer so that Bilbo would be able to talk to Smaug more, as it was the best part of the film to me. Plus, I felt that the whole part with the 'Necromancer' could have been completely removed, to make way for addition scenes of other more import characters and additional materiel to add at the end of a few scenes. My next complaint is with the pacing. The pacing and script kinda work together in a way. I mean, the pacing is way too fast, you start at the beginning and five minutes later your at the end, it's like slow down a bit, and just talk alittle. Yes, I know that was my complaint with the first film, that it was too slow. Now, this is way too fast though, and there just isn't enough talking. Why can't we just stop for a minute and breathe. You know what I mean? And my final problem with this film, which was one of my serious complaints about the first one, is my main complaint for this one as well and it is.... The character-development. Oh yes, but what can you expect from a film that features a dozen dwarves, two wizards, a couple of woodland elves, a skin changer, a handful of humans, orcs, a dragon, and a small hobbit. The film has done wonderfully to forget it's characters for visual effects, and costumes and sets. But characters are just as important, they are the ones you will be watching during the whole film. What we get from this film is a few developed dwarves (Kili, Thorin, Dwalin, Bofur, and Balin) then you have a few dwarves with alittle development (Fili, Bombur, Ori) and then you have dwarves with no character development (Nori, Dori, Gloin, Oin, and Bifur) it's as if those dwarves were nonexistent in personality, and that they were only there just to be there, for no reason whatsoever. I mean, I don't even think Nori has any lines in the whole entire film. None. Not even one, and he doesn't have a speech problem (I looked it up). The dwarves just anger me because some of them do nothing but occasionally slay an Orc. They get very little screen time, and mostly appear behind a dwarf that does get screen time. And then you have 'The Master of Lake Town', played by the excellent 'Stephen Fry'. That guy has about 10 minutes of screen time altogether, and he's supposed to be a miner villain, he doesn't have any time to show he's a villain. Its ridicules. 'Bard the Bowman' who is played by the ever increasingly popular 'Luke Evans' gets a very small quantity of screen time. I mean, he's supposed to be the guy to slay the dragon yet he get about 30 minutes of screen time? Maybe less. It's crazy, I mean, I know he had a much smaller part in the book but still, I just wish he had a much more important role in the film. Well guys, I'm done criticizing the movie, now let's just get to what made this movie good. The good things with this film are the visual effects, sets, costumes, cast, acting, make up, and cinematography. As it was with the first film it is again. The visual effects are excellent. Everything is crisply detailed, and so are all the animated figures. The Orcs, look wonderful, and look really well detailed to the point. There is one shot, that showed the orcs running down the river to catch the dwarves and it just looks excellent. And when Beorn is a bear, it is just excellent. The bear looks so realistic, you'd actually think it was a live bear, chasing the dwarves and guarding them at night, of course it isn't but still. Probably the best use of visual effects was on Smaug. Oh my lord did Smaug the dragon look excellent. He's probably the best animated dragon yet to appear on screen (Ofcourse the voice helps but, you know). The animators had such a great attention to detail. Every scale on Smaug's back was rendered sharply, his face looked amazing, and his neck- wow what a sight. When, Smaug is on camera I just can't help but stare at his magnificence, he is just so beautiful to look at, it's just amazing, and really it is. I loved how when Smaug speaks his mouth moves at just the right moment, and you can see his slimy tongue and throat and sharp teeth, just wow, they were so great to just look at. When the gold falls off Smaug's body, it looks dazzling, just so beautiful, and so realistic looking. I just don't know how else to put it really. Another amazing visual effect was when the melted gold, (or whatever that was) was dumped on Smaug by Thorin. It was just so neat, Smaug was just golden for a moment, and then as he flew off, the liquid gold looking stuff started falling off, just glimmering down. I'm just amazed at the visuals, even though they may not be the best of the year (No visuals beat Gravity's or Pacific Rim's) it's still pretty darn solid effects. Man, thank the heavens that this film didn't rely intierly on green screens for all the locations, as they have sets for this one ((We're looking at you Oz: The Great and the Powerful, just why so much green screen?). The sets just look fantastic. They are huge, and full of detail. Like, inside The Lonely Mountain, man, was that great sets in the making, just wow. And Lake Town, was also another successful set, it was just so hauntingly full of life, and detailed to the brim. Lake Town, looked ancient, and man did that only make it even more fantastic. Probably one of the best set designs had to do with Mirkwood. Mirkwood was designed so darkly and hauntingly spookily it was amazing. The woods and trees and everything just looked great, those sets looked amazing and realistic, a bit too realistic you might venture to say. The costumes were great as well. I just loved the fabric used for the dwarf's costumes, which looked so rough and just realistic to the characters. A standout costume has to be Thranduil's played by 'Lee Pace'. I loved the silk garment he wore, it was so shiny, and pretty and so smooth looking that it makes you just want to feel its softness. The cast was another achievement. 'Martin Freeman' returns as the delightful hobbit, Bilbo Baggins, giving us a more serious and very dark performance this time around as he handles his weapon more fiercely and takes charge more often than not. 'Ian McKellan' returns as well as Gandalf the Grey, while Ian isn't given much to work with this time around, he still does his best and gives a somewhat decent performance even if its alittle tame this time around. 'Richard Armitage' plays the lead of the company of dwarves as Thorin Oakenshield, in which he gives a very nice performance, nothing of high note, but still he shows his toughness, and uneasiness, and somewhat creepiness during the end scenes, he makes good use of his character. 'Aiden Turner' as Kili, one of the dwarves, gives off a charming performance and gives us some of our more controversial romantic scenes in the film. 'James Nesbitt' as Bofur, a dwarf, gives off a funny, yet somewhat serious performance, and is probably one of my favorite of the cast. And 'Ken Stott' as Balin, one of the dwarves, I still just excellent, and acts as the wise, man of the company. And as for newcomers, we got a whole lot of great ones. The best of the lot, and possibly of the whole cast, solely based on his voice work, was 'Benedict Cumberbatch'. You all know I'm a big fan of Cumberbatch's work, because I am. And let me tell you his voice work is scary, intriguing, original, clear, and a perfect match for Smaug. Benedict's voice as Smaug the dragon just gives me the Goosebumps, I'll tell you that. While not given a lot of screen time 'Lee Pace' as Thrandiul is excellent. He is the perfect casting choice, I mean he can play a villain so innocently and just has such a high authority in his voice, and movements, as well as his actions, he was just excellent in this film, I hope to see more of him as his character in the next film. 'Stephen Fry' though also hasn't had much screen time in this film, tries his best with what time he has, as The Master of Lake Town. He delivers a nice performance, as the overly greedy Master. Plus newcomer 'Ryan Gage' gave an even more villainous performance as Alfrid. He just made me wanna punch him square in the face, which pretty much mans that you're doing a damn great job as a villain in a film if I wanna knock your block off. 'Evangeline Lilly' as a new character, Tauriel gives us a wonderful performances, to the point where you can tell she's into the film, and is having fun getting to punch a few stunt guys in the face. Plus, she shares decent chemistry with 'Aiden Turner', which is a plus. 'Orlando Bloom' returns in his role as Legolas from the previous series, and has a lot of fun doing it, while being extremely grumpy and jealous over Tauriel's new fondness for Kili. Plus we get a pretty good performance from 'Luke Evans' as the familyman 'Bard the Bowman' who thankfully is given much more screen time in the movie then in the book. Overall the acting was solid. The makeup, was also topnotch, with make up for Bard the Bowman ,and the Master of Lake Town being the best of them all. The cinematography was also great. All the angles and camera movements made were done so gracefully that there were no problems whatsoever with that. My favorite use of the camera work was when the woodland elves, had captured the dwarves and led them into the castle, and they have a wide long shot from far away inside the castle, as the dwarves walked across a small patch of brick, with just air on either side of them. That was just beautiful. As well as all the scenes featuring Smaug, I mean they all were shot with grace and ease. Just perfect, all the camera close up's of Smaug's body, and face. All an All The Hobbit: Desolation of Smaug, is a pretty decent film, with a great cast, and excellent visuals and sets, but sadly all is not great in middle earth as still the film suffers from poor character-development, and an opening that confuses all, plus a sense of rushing to the end. B- 12/20/13
P.S: There is yet one more installment to go, with The Hobbit: There and Back Again hitting theaters December 2014. Let's just hope this improves upon this one, just a little bit more, we'll just have to wait and see, won't we?