JOE reviews The Hobbit: The Desolation Of Smaug
You know it’s truly Christmas time when satsuma sales surge in the shops, your mam pre-orders 38 bottles of white wine for Aunty Eileen at the family party, and Peter Jackson releases another Middle-Earth movie.
At this point, it really is about time that we all come to terms with the fact that the Kiwi director has decided to divide J.R.R. Tolkien’s beloved book ‘The Hobbit’ into not just one, or two, but three gargantuan films, especially as the eagerly-anticipated (by JOE anyway) second installment, The Hobbit: The Desolation Of Smog Smug Smurf Smaug, is roaring, and not boring, its way into Irish cinemas today.
Following on from the end of The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, the latest film sees Thorin Oakenshield (Richard Armitage) and his company of courageous dwarves continue on their dangerous quest to reclaim their homeland of Erebor from the scaly grasp of the charmingly villainous dragon, Smaug (Benedict Cumberbatch).
Along the way they are accompanied by our plucky titular hobbit, Bilbo ‘the Burglar’ Baggins (an impeccably cast Martin Freeman), who is now in possession of the One Ring.
That’s the really, really, really evil piece of jewellery in case you were wondering. Almost as evil as an engagement ring.
At the same time, the grey wizard Gandalf (Ian McKellan) has left our weary travellers to confront the strange, dark shadow that has been steadily growing in the darkness of the dark shadowy shadows…
The sequel also sees the introduction of some new faces including Bard the Bowman (Luke Evans) and his Welsh family of mini-Charlotte Churches, Stephen Fry as the manky Master of Lake-town, while the lovely Elven warrior Tauriel (Evangeline Lilly) competes with LOTR veteran, but The Hobbit newbie, Legolas (Orlando Bloom), in a competition to see who can look the most bored while spectacularly decapitating as many nasty Orcses as they possibly can.
And a special shout out to Saoirse Ronan for her excellent performance as Lee Pace, the American actor tasked with literally fleshing out the part of Thranduil, the Elven King of Mirkwood.
Here at JOE HQ, it's clear that we're big fans of the LOTR films. We love the world that Jackson has realised and we will happily watch any number of awesome adventures set in magical Middle-Earth.
In saying that, a lot of fantasy fans found that the first installment of The Hobbit trilogy was often dull and made for tiresome viewing at times, resulting in the fact that there was a certain amount of Hobbit hesitancy surrounding this week’s release. So let’s get the snide remarks and obvious criticisms out of the way first of all, shall we?
Yes, the film is unsurprisingly long. This JOE went to see the film on a Tuesday morning and left the cinema sometime on Thursday evening… the following week.
And yes, walking aficionados have no fear. There are multiple, obligatory shots of
the Fellowship our heroes traipsing in single file across the grassy hills and snow-covered mountains of Middle-Earth.
These are minor qualms, however, as Jackson has this time delivered a relentless action-packed adventure that will require multiple viewings to fully appreciate the detail and meticulous planning that has gone into many of the heart-stopping action scenes. A Bilbo-in-a-barrel escape down a river will have you simultaneously laughing and ducking, while a forest attack by a family of giant, hissing spiders will leave you genuinely terrified. You can trust JOE’s judgment on this one because we’ve seen Arachnophobia. A lot.
The highlight, however, is in the second half of the film when we are eventually introduced to the stupendous and sneering Smaug, brilliantly voiced and brought to life by Bendyballs Cabbagepatch. The Hannibal Lecter of dragons, he is charismatic and evil all at once, while the witty exchanges between Sherlock stars Martin Freeman and Buttermilk Crumplehorn are worth the admission price alone.
And so, in spite of the inclusion of a completely unnecessary and unwanted love story between Tauriel and Irish dwarf Kili (Aiden Turner), The Hobbit: The Desolation Of Smaug is Jackson and Co. most certainly back to their best.
YOU SHALL NOT PASS… on seeing this film.
The Hobbit: The Desolation Of Smaug is in Irish cinemas Friday 13 December.