The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug

Once again, director Peter Jackson is dominating the world movie scene with fantastic monsters and nonstop battles between good and evil. His latest movie — The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug — was released over winter break and features everything from man-eating spiders to a dragon who lives in a lair filled with gems and gold coins.

   The Desolation of Smaug, the second movie in the Hobbit trilogy, has proven to be yet another hit for Jackson, who also directed the Lord of the Rings trilogy of movies. The movie amassed 73.7 million dollars in its first weekend that it was in theaters and another 74.2 million over the first weekend in January. Some in the film industry predict it will eventually rake in 10 or 11 billion.

This second installment follows the harrowing journey of Bilbo Baggins, played by the English actor Martin Freeman, and a band of dwarves who are determined to win back their mountainous kingdom, Erebar. Bilbo and the dwarves also want to reclaim their treasure, which includes a magical gem called Arkenstone and also a river of gold coins. Of course, taking back the treasure is no easy task. The treasure is hidden inside a mountain and is guarded by Smaug, an evil dragon who exhales fire that is less like a flickering flame and more like a flamethrower.

Before they even reach Smaug and the treasure, Bilbo and the dwarves must first conquer many obstacles and monsters including a horde of man-eating spiders with a carnivorous appetite and teeth like swords. (Jackson is reportedly terrified of spiders and based the enormous, creepy ones in the movie on his worst fears.) Next, Bilbo and the dwarves are attacked by Orcs — muscular, hairless, hunchbacked thugs with skin as grey and bloodless as the skin of vampires. The dwarves escape the Orcs by hiding in wine barrels and riding them down a river plagued with rapids and precipitous waterfalls.

Some people have said this is an action movie with way, way too much action and I would agree. It is 161 minutes long and there always seems to be some sort of fantastic, over-the-top battle happening, the outcome of which determines whether good or evil will rule the world. It seems like it is just a movie packed with non stop action and not a lot of dialogue. To me Jackson needs to find the perfect balance between fighting and talking that he found in the Lord of the Rings trilogy.

The movie is based on The Hobbit, a novel written by J. R. R. Tolkien in 1937, just before World War Two broke out. Many evil forces — the equivalent of giant man-eating spiders — were trying to take over the world then and you can really feel a lot of that period’s darkness, danger and fear in the movie.

In the novel, there are no women who fight with the dwarves and Orcs. In the movie, however, the director created a female character, Tauriel, played by Evengeline Lilly. She has red hair and pointy ears and she is a brazen fighter. She is called a “one woman Orc-killing machine.”  She also falls in love with a particularly cute dwarf, which never happened in the novel. Many of the loyal followers of the actual book were extremely angry because the movie didn’t follow the original scheme of the book. It seemed as though after the movie the only thing I heard people talking about was how the movie was nothing like the book.

One reviewer called Smaug the most memorable and terrifying dragon in film history. The dragon also has the last line in the movie, spoken in a spooky baritone voice that sounds as if it is coming from the middle of the earth: “I am king under the mountain.” This dragon is the star of the movie – he is so dark and brooding, he’s fascinating. Smaug is the most magnetic character in the movie and will draw J.R.R Tolkien fans back to the theatres for the final of the trilogy, which is set to come out in December of 2014.

The reviews of the movie are mixed; however, it is impossible to find a positive or gushing review anywhere. One typical review, written by Christine King of, described the movie this way: “satisfying but sometimes slogs.” You do have to slog through a lot of long battles and it takes a long time to get to the best part of the movie: when the dwarves finally meet the dragon. The action in the movie was just too overwhelming and the scenes went on and on. Everyone is still extremely excited for the next movie, but personally I will only see it to see Smaug fight some dwarves.