The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug (d. Peter Jackson USA/New Zealand 2013)

The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug (d. Peter Jackson USA/New Zealand 2013)

Please read ‘On Reviews‘ for a guide to how I write film reviews. Any spoilers are appropriately marked and, though I personally prefer to know little about a film before seeing it, there is a synopsis at the bottom for any who wish to see one.


Entertainment: starfish starfish starfish starfish

Performances: starfish starfish starfish starfish

Predictability: starfish starfish starfish

Technical: starfish starfish


For many this was the most awaited film of 2013. The second in the three part adaptation of J. R. R. Tolkien‘s The Hobbit (A. Tolkein George Allen & Unwin UK 1937), The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug was under a lot of pressure. The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey (d. Peter Jackson USA/New Zealand 2012) established many of the elements that would continue here. This includes a slightly more cartoon-esque approach to some of the action sequences (admittedly not as evident in The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug), sequences that go beyond the scope of Tolkein’s The Hobbit in an effort to explain Gandalf‘s (Performed by Ian McKellen) absences. Similarly a return of many familiar faces from Peter Jackson’s The Lord of the Rings (d. Peter Jackson USA/New Zealand 200120022003). The change of tone and the inclusion of many additional characters and events felt like a risky move and may well have influenced some disappointment with The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey. With this in mind, the expectations of The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug were complex but it was clear there was a high pressure upon this film.


The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug boasts an impressive cast and although the script does faulter from time to time, the cast give striking performances. They ably demonstrate interesting relationships and connections to one another and this can be very entertaining – even if it had nothing to do with The Hobbit. One could definitely say that what has been added to the film, allows for an expansion of the dwarf characters that wasn’t in the book. As such they become more three dimensional. SPOILER: That being said a central romance has been created between Kili (Aidan Turner) and Tauriel (Evangeline Lilly) that seems wildly out of place, despite being a very entertaining and interesting love story. In The Lord of the Rings, one of the controversial and interesting romances was Arwen (Liv Tyler) and Aragorn‘s (Viggo Mortensen) love for each other. This being a subplot that is properly explored. However, it was controversial and both suffer because of it. But if we are to expect that an even more controversial (dwarfs and elves are already an uncomfortable ally) elf/dwarf romance had already existed, it’d take away from that.


SPOILER: Already we are getting inconsistencies between all of the films that are meant to be connected to one another. Another happens to be Gandalf’s knowledge of Sauron. The Necromancer has revealed himself to be Sauron, this creates complications between Gandalf in The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug and The Fellowship of the Ring. Saruman may as well tell Gandalf now that he’s going to betray him! END OF SPOILERS. There is another complication within this film. Despite its interesting set pieces, costume and creatures. Often the way in which The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug was shot, is often problematic. The film relies on CGI which often falls flat of its intentions. The film is also very ambitious with the cinematography, which would be excellent if it didn’t completely fail at its intentions. Often the camerawork looks and feels out of place. None more so than some random go pro shots. Used to add to the confusion, they seem out of place with the otherwise slick movements and depictions of the camera and they, far too obviously, point out that the film has been made – breaking the reality otherwise created by the film.


All in all, this film was very entertaining but with many problems. It falls short of what it could be but not by that much. With the success of The Lord of the Rings there was always going to be a lot of pressure. They tried. A lot went into this film and it’s not an unsuccessful effort.


Further Reading

Official Site

Benedict Cumberbatch’s Site

Ian McKellen’s Site

Evangeline Lilly’s Site

Richard Armitage’s Unofficial Site

Lee Pace’s Site

Aidan Turner’s Site

Sylvester McCoy’s Site

Stephen Fry’s Site

Interview with Martin Freeman

Interview with Cast and Director

Interviews with Cast and Crew



After the events of The Hobbit: The Unexpected Journey, Bilbo Baggins and the dwarves are still trying to get to the Erebor to reclaim the Dwarven Kingdom from the Dragon, Smaug. Along the way they have to run from orcs, evade some giant spiders, escape from the Mirkwood Elves and pass through lake town unnoticed.   

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