“Take back your homeland,” says Middle-earth wizard Gandalf the Grey (Ian McKellen). “You are the heir. Take back what was stolen by Smaug.” But Thorin Oakenshield (Richard Armitage) demurs. “What if I were to help you?” says Gandalf. That’s the setup for “The Hobbit,” part 2 – “The Desolation of Smaug.” (Pronounce the dragon’s name as if it had three syllables, its middle rhyming with “cow.”) Bilbo, the hobbit (Martin Freeman), 13 dwarves, Gandalf, and their sometime allies – woodland elves and Lake-town humans – journey to Lonely Mountain, beneath which Smaug the dragon sleeps, having stolen the dwarves’ treasure. Welcome (back) to Middle-earth.
Will the Company reach Lonely Mountain before the Secret Door disappears? Can they escape the orcs who pursue them? Where is Gandalf? For some answers see “The Desolation of Smaug.”
A large, talented cast of familiar actors returns, plus new faces playing new characters. Their performances are among the many pleasures of “The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug.” Martin Freeman is Bilbo Baggins, increasingly courageous hobbit. His larcenous skills appeal to the dwarves whose only goal is to take back their kingdom. “Don’t wake the dragon,” they say as Bilbo prepares to burglarize Smaug’s treasury and steal back the dwarves’ Arkenstone, their most sacred relic. Ian McKellen is impressive, in long beard and pointy hat, as wizard Gandalf the Grey. He warns the Company of what’s to come: “In our blindness, the enemy has returned and is preparing for war.” Fans of “The Lord of the Rings” know who the enemy is.
Others in the cast include Orlando Bloom as Legolas, elegant elven archer. Richard Armitage is Thorin Oakenshield, heir to Erebor’s throne, Ken Stott and Aidan Turner are dwarves Balin and Kili, the latter attracted to elf-archer Tauriel, a new character, played by lovely Evangeline Lilly who, apparently, returns Kili’s affection. Benedict Cumberbatch is voice of Smaug who sets up the next film when he says, “A darkness is coming. It will spread to every corner of the land. I am fire. I am death.”
“The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug” continues Bilbo’s adventurous journey, prequel to “Lord of the Rings.” Full of action – on land and in water – nasty and exceedingly unattractive orcs, narrow escapes, and gorgeous vistas, it’s directed by Peter Jackson, with a smart script by Fran Walsh and Phillipa Boyens from JRR Tolkien’s book. It’s a splendid entertainment.
Rated PG-13 for extended and intense fantasy action violence and frightful images – that would be orcs and Smaug the dragon. 161 minutes.
Hobbit, humans, dwarves, elves –
Uneasy band of brothers –
In “The Hobbit,” part 2:
Can they trust each other?