Let me state now, I have NOT read the book. It is on my Kindle, ready to be read. Also, I will try to make this review with as few, if any, spoilers as possible.
Thorin Oakenshield (Richard Armitage), his company of 12 dwarves and 1 hobbit continue their journey through Thranduil’s (Lee Pace) kingdom of Mirkwood, where they encounter more than just Legolas (Orlando Bloom) and Tauriel (Evangeline Lilly), Laketown and up the Lonely Mountain. There, Bilbo (Martin Freeman) encounters Smaug the Dragon (Benedict Cumberbatch) in his search for the Arkenstone. Meanwhile, Gandalf (Sir Ian McKellen) leaves the company again to investigate strange rumours with Radagast (Sylvester McCoy) and find himself in more trouble than anticipated.
This film is a wonderful sequel to the previous film, furthering the story at good pace and expanding the world of Middle Earth. This film starts creating the groundwork and links to the Lord Of The Rings (LOTR) films and features either the same or similar themes that are present in LOTR and featured in the first Hobbit film too.
Greed and obsession are shown through Bilbo succumbing to the power of the ring and through Thorin’s determination to get the Arkenstone at any cost. This is a brilliant parallel between the stories as well as linking the Hobbit films to the original LOTR stories.
Tolkein’s languages are utilised well in this adaptation to give different areas of Middle Earth a specific feel and defines each race in the world. They are also used in such a way that they don’t alienate audiences who have not read any of his work. The writing of this film has the right measures of laughs and shocks and keeps children and adults alike entertained all the way through. The cliffhanger ending is well executed and leaves audiences wanting more.
Weta Digital and Weta Workshop has done a fantastic job again, especially with Smaug the Dragon. He is animated in such detail that combined with the script, audiences would believe that he is real!
The music yet again is a triumph for Howard Shore. Again, the music is easily recognisable as a part of the landscape of Middle Earth but also distinct to the Hobbit (soon-to-be) Trilogy. There are snippets of music from the original LOTR, such as Concerning Hobbits. Ed Sheeran’s song at the end, I See Fire, fits the film perfectly and is very addictive listening. I keep listening to that song and have done so since I found the song a few weeks ago.
The only concern I have is with the River Barrels scene. There are certain shots that seem very at odds with the rest of the film and do seem to have been put in more for it being viewed in 3D. Whilst it might make sense to have those shots in for 3D, it does jerk the audience out of the film, breaking the suspension of disbelief which is a real shame as the film overall is very well done, from the script, the performances from the actors, the work of Weta and the music.
This is a personal thing but I went into watching the film expecting to be thinking “that’s not Smaug and Bilbo talking together! That’s Sherlock and John!” Instead I found myself thinking, “why is the Seventh Doctor with Gandalf?!”
The film overall is excellent and avoids the second film slump. It is pleasing to fans old and new and is a triumph of film making. Peter Jackson and everyone involved in the film have done excellent and will allow audiences to leave satisfied and looking forward to the next film when it comes out. I highly recommend going to see this film.