Okay, I'm gonna *try* to keep this review on the shorter side, so let's see if I can stay true to that. Mid-December decided to roll around again, and once more it brought with it an installment to the Lord of the Rings universe...and more specifically The Hobbit franchise. How does part 2 of this trilogy stack up to its predecessor, as well as the trilogy that came before it? Well, it's kinda tough to say. I think that in watching it, it's kind of easy to say it's one of the weaker films in the entire series...but yet it also has some of the most fun action sequences of any of the films at the same time. I think I'll just break this down into a simple pros and cons list so you can get the idea of how The Desolation of Smaug measures up. We'll start with the cons because I want to leave this post on a good note since overall...I just like this series. I'll be happy to visit it anytime, just some visits are a bit stronger than others. That doesn't mean I can't still have fun with it!
CONS: The simplest con which really isn't the story's fault and really just my own bias.... I just like Lord of the Rings/Hobbit films more when Gollum is in them. He's such a fascinating character and just gives such an instant classic feel to any scene he's in. When he's gone, I always find the entry less interesting. Fellowship is easily my least favorite of the Lord of the Rings trilogy and in this sense...I kind of prefer a lot of An Unexpected Journey. Do not misunderstand me, Benedict Cumberbatch's Smaug is an excellent and very worthy replacement.... he just takes far too long to show up. One of the other cons for me (and I'll be honest, this might just be the fact that I saw a nearly 3 hour movie at midnight...) is that though when the action is fantastic, the lulls seemed a little more lulling than in other times in this series haha. The first Hobbit I felt kept a decent pace, this time it feels a bit more clunky. And my final con is just that I felt there were a few more "huh?"/head scratching moments in this film that any of the others. Another viewing might help.
PROS: Hooray for the return of Legolas! It's nice to see a familiar face and I'd almost forgotten how much fun it is to see him in action. His action sequences are delightful, and his new gal pal played by Evangeline Lily actually was surprisingly good too. In general, the highlights of this film are the action sequences (spiders, river barrels, and dragons oh my!) There is a LOT of fun to be had here, and in some ways this might be the most adventure-filled action packed film of any of the series. It certainly had a different feel (which I actually like...) of being more adventure based than battle driven. It was a fun movie! Though I mentioned that Smaug takes very long to get to, once we do....it's fantastic. He's a chilling villain and let's be honest, Cumberbatch is on a roll. The scenes with him are probably my favorite of the film. Plus I just love Martin Freeman and how he tries to outsmart every foe he comes across. It's odd to say since he's the main character and all...but the film could really use more of him because I really enjoy him as a protagonist.
All in all, I think if middle earth is a place you love to visit in the movies, you can enjoy The Desolation of Smaug. Though not as perfect as some of the films that came before it, it's still a fun ride on its own. EMILY RATING: 8/10