The Movie: 7.5/10
Dragon. Dragon. Dragon. There is your beginning, middle, and end of my review of this movie. I can elaborate, if you insist. First we have the continued story of our band of motivated heroes drudging through the countryside to reclaim the homeland of the Dwarf race. This homeland consists of one thing, a mountain. It’s a big mountain that, according to the story a very large dragon drove the inhabitants away from some years before. They have been a displaced people ever since, and now seek to retrieve what was and is theirs. OK, that’s the whole thing actually. They go and go and go and encounter obstacles, meet more characters, roll around in some barrels, and then keep going some more. I’m not saying I don’t like a movie with a long journey in it, I do like it. It’s just that if you watch with a bit of a cynical eye you will see that all of what we have seen so far of this crew is them leaving the Shire, find a challenge, big special effects, big action, walk, run, float, fly, all headed to this mountain, and oh yes, the DRAGON.
Before getting to the DRAGON I’ll talk about the elves, they are pretty awesome (in theory) with their slightly bad attitude. They are isolated in their fortress in the woods, away from the impending doom that is crawling across Middle Earth. Their leader is determined to keep them enclosed as the whole thing blows over, but Legolas has to follow Tauriel who has to follow a dwarf she has fallen in love with, and so they join the good fight against the darkness we all know will be gobbling up all the goodness of their world. Tauriel is pretty good. I don’t even like Evangeline Lilly, but I didn’t realize who it was and I liked the character, the actress, and now I’m thinking she just needed to be less brooding (like she was in Lost) and be more kick ass with her arrows and gymnastics. The only negative about her and Legolas is that they are tangled in a somewhat flimsy love triangle. I get it, he likes her, she likes the dwarf, the dwarf falls for her and Legolas is left without the woman and his pride. It’s just not flushed out very well so it feels empty. Peter, you hear me, empty. Fix it.
The dragon. Oh wait, I need to talk about the rest of the cast..hmm…. well, it’s the guy from The Office (UK) being an increasingly brave but ‘ring addicted’ little dude. He’s always fun and a little on the cheeky side, which I think fits well with a Hobbit taken from his comfy little Shire and put into a very hostile series of events. Everyone else is fine. The guy who takes them on the boat is good, and Gandalf is Gandalf. I mean, come on, what can you say about a bunch of dudes so completely covered in prosthetics and costumes that you can’t really find their performances? They are fine.
The DRAGON…..is……..awesome! The scenes are mostly in the caves, amongst a very large collection of golden objects. He’s impressive, mean, clever, a bit snotty, and gives our little Hobbit a good work out for sure. The face is amazing with the textures and personality that comes right through it all. The voice I didn’t recognize at first, but later learned it is Cumberbatch, which is awesome. I thought I heard hints of Captain Jean-Luc Picard, but alas, he was not involved. Seeing the scale of the immenseness of what a dragon can be compared to a person type figure is impressive. It was easy to feel the danger, the threat, the reality that if that guy existed and was pissed off with humanoids, we would be screwed. That’s what I liked the best, he’s dangerous and that’s what matters. I would watch that whole movie again just for the dragon scenes, and this is pretty substantial time investment, so there ya go.
Overall The Desolation of Smaug was fun and had a certain element of satisfaction that I liked. They arrived, they found the dragon, they had some adventures, and now we are primed to see that DRAGON do his dragon best to make his presence known, feared, and felt. I’m looking forward to it.
- Peter Jackson Invites You To The Set – A 41 minute fly on the wall style documentary split into two parts (In the company of the Hobbit & All in a day’s work.) This is a great behind the scenes that even takes you inside the catering truck and make up trailers.
- Production Videos – Four different production featurettes which deal with filming pick-up shots for the film and the orchestral score being created.
- New Zealand: Home Of Middle Earth Part Two – Pretty much a tourist information film that is middle earth themed.
- Trailers & Previews – I wouldn’t normally class these as extras but if you want all the supplements for the movie the following are included. (Three Desolation Of Smaug Trailers, Promos for the extended edition of the first film and some trailers for the Hobbit and Kingdoms Of Middle Earth video games.
- DVD & UV Digital Copy
Cover Art and Menus: 5/10
I’m not one for a cover of a spectacle nature, so the grandiose cover art is fine for what it is, I just wouldn’t have it as a poster. There is so much more potential for cool images in Middle Earth, why not dig deeper than simply putting the cast on the cover? The menu is fine, it navigates.
Audio & Video: 8/10
This is a striking looking Blu-Ray disc and being the middle film in the trilogy also much darker and bleaker than The Hobbit. There is also a fair amount of Black Crush that might have you reaching for the brightness control at times. Still aside from that the rest of the presentation is top-notch with crystal clear sharp-looking images and amazing color reproduction. The scene where Smaug is covered in gold is a real jaw dropper. The barrel sequence suffers a little from some poor quality cgi and some shots that look pixellated, I did a little research and apparently they used some consumer GoPro cameras for some of the underwater shots. Overall despite it’s shortcomings The Desolation Of Smaug is a lovely looking movie, visually the best in the entire LOTR series as far as I am concerned.
Overall Score 7.5/10