Evan Burkey

The Desolation of Smaug Is A Fantastic Christmas Gift

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Let’s face it: You already know that you’re going to see this movie, so let me tell you why that hypetrain you’re riding is totally justified.

I think the biggest question people have is how faithful The Desolation of Smaug is to the original story. This question, in my mind, is just plain silly. The original book was self-contained, never intended to be a lead-in to the sweeping epic that is The Lord of the Rings. Peter Jackson has made it clear with this second entry that he intends to present the overarching story of The Hobbit while also adding contextual lead-in to the LOTR series. If you can’t get past that fact and want a faithful adaption of just The Hobbit and nothing else, then you need to skip this film.

But for those of you with some sanity, The Desolation of Smaug is an absolute treat. The biggest criticism I saw with An Unexpected Journey was the slow pacing, but Desolation doesn’t have that problem: the film opens with a bang and starts moving fast. Immediately I was struck with a comparison to The Two Towers: The party’s high-energy journey in Desolation felt very close to Aragorn and company’s sprint after Pippin and Merry. The film doesn’t slow down for a while, keeping up the high energy until the party’s capture in Mirkwood.

There is a significant amount of action in The Desolation of Smaug, and it really helps the movie feel more like an entry to the LOTR series. The party is harried by a pack of Orcs throughout the entire film, and the fight scenes when the groups meet up definitely meet the quality you expect. The fight choreography is superb, showing off Jackson and company’s ability to match heavy handed violence (there were more decapitations and blood then I expected for a PG-13 film) with that breed of violent humor that made the LOTR series stand out. Several times during a specific fight scene featuring Legolas the crowd went from gasping and even cheering at the damage he was dealing to laughing at some sort of ridiculous but effective attack a beleaguered dwarf would throw out.

Last, but certainly not least: Smaug. I have to give huge props to Benedict Cumberbatch, as his vocal talents completely nailed the role. His portrayal of a creature born from greed and evil is spot-on, and I loved every second that the titular dragon was on screen. And if that wasn’t enough, Smaug’s design is fantastic as well. I’ve always been bugged that films tend to portray dragons as winged four legged lizards, whereas in my head dragons have always been more of snakes with wings. The way that Smaug slithers through his pile of treasure while taunting Bilbo nearly elicited a squeal of glee. This is the Smaug my 8 year old imagination saw as I read The Hobbit in my bed late at night, and I loved every second that the dragon was on screen.

The Desolation of Smaug is the largest, most hyped movie of the Christmas season and it deserves the hype. The film was engaging, entertaining, and an absolute visual treat. This is high-budget fantasy at its finest. You’re going to see this movie, and you’re going to enjoy it.

The Desolation of Smaug is an engaging, fantastic film that will keep you entertained from start to finish, and as such deserves a rating of 4.5 out of 5.

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