By the time we meet the eponymous Smaug in The Desolation of Smaug, we’re already two hours deep into the latest installment in New Line Cinema’s multi-billion dollar Middle Earth film series. For Smaug himself, he’s been sitting on his ass even longer, having been desolating in his big old pile of stolen gold deep within the Lonely Mountain. Does he eat? Does he poop in the gold?
Perhaps someone more well-versed in Tolkien than I can correct me, but I like to think Smaug has been steadily ‘desolating’ in his pile of Dwarven gold for decades, and if the dwarves do reclaim it they’re in for a nasty surprise.
Benedict Cumberbatch plays the dragon via motion capture, and it’s been described as “the best dragon ever seen on film.” Probably true, though Sean Connery and Pete’s Dragon are some stiff competition.
Dragons and dragon-pooping aside, though, this film has nearly three hours of other stuff; while it’s well executed, I can’t help but feel that most of it is padding to provide a more cinematic feel to the film. What action sequences there are prove to be extremely goofy- such as barrels bouncing from goblin to goblin to smush them and flinging molten gold at a giant dragon. While I haven’t read the book in a while, I feel like Tolkien would be cringing at some of the dumber stuff here. Great characters like Beorn are wasted in favor of a love story between Kate from Lost and a prettyboy dwarf.
There are desperate attempts made to connect this film with the earlier Lord of the Rings trilogy, such as the inclusion of Orlando Bloom as Elvish cross-dresser Legolas and with Smaug’s discussion of the Ring that Bilbo carries.
So do I recommend the Hobbit? Wait till next year; maybe the plot will be advanced then.