YOU SHALL NOT PASS! Sorry, what’s that? You have a ticket. Oh ok, go on through.

Elves, dwarves, men and goblins not to mention a talking bloody dragon! Dear God yes! All of the mythical and mystical creatures that pique my imagination and sense of adventure are all rolled into the latest installment of Peter’s Jackson’s film franchise based on J.R.R Tolkien’s phenomenal novel The Hobbit (1937), The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug (2013). Now I know that there’s been much debate as to Jackson’s decision to split the novel into three films but I really couldn’t care less. Yes the story is dragged out but seriously, why wouldn’t you do it this way? The shameless capitalisation of a canonical text for popular and sci-fi/fantasy culture is money well spent I think. You can’t tell me that you wouldn’t do the same thing given the opportunity? (If you say that you’d stay true to the text and only release one film, you’re deluded. Money people. And lots of it.) So in keeping with my 2014 New Years Resolutions, here’s my riveting review. Enjoy.

It was a dark and stormy night when I decided to treat myself to a film experience like none other. Well not really. It was the middle of the day and I was escaping the heat wave by sheltering in the air-conditioned cinema along with about half of Brisbane. It was just a happy coincidence that The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug (2013) was on at the same time and I kind of knew what to expect having seen the first Hobbit film as well as all of The Lord of the Rings films. Alas, I’m getting off track.

The cinema lights darkened, the music began to play and then we were off into the wild and mysterious world of Middle Earth. Within the opening few minutes of the film, audiences find themselves transported back to Bree and The Prancing Pony twelve months prior to the beginning of Thorin’s quest to reclaim his homeland. For those who have read J. R. R. Tolkien’s novel, you have an idea of what can be expected. What I didn’t expect to see was a 3 second spot of director Peter Jackson eating a carrot and then exiting the screen stage left. I must admit, it made me smile and I hope that others found the cameo a little amusing as well.

Now on to the film itself. As with every Peter Jackson film, the costuming and sets didn’t fail to impress in terms of their grandeur and intricacies as did the special effects. However, there were a few times where I didn’t think that the effects were up to par. For fear of spilling the beans for those of you who haven’t seen the film yet I won’t go into too much detail but I will say that some of the computer graphics felt a little dated. I don’t know if it was because of the kind of effect is was or the technician who created it but it really didn’t feel as seamless as previous effects. I think that digital special effects and computer graphics have now come to the point where it’s possible to blend them into the live action without blatantly pointing out “HEY! Look at me! I’m a computer generated action sequence!”. For the most part, the film’s computer graphic technicians did a great job of doing this but there were definitely a few instances where it looked more like a video game than a film.

I think that it must also be mentioned that despite my love for Orlando Bloom, Legolas looks like he’s aged a bit since The Lord of the Rings films. I know that the aging process is an inevitable part of life but this is the movies people! Surely something could have been done so that he doesn’t look older in the story that predates The Lord of the Rings.

In more positive news, the cast and performances were excellent not to mention the riveting fight scenes between the dwarves, elves and orcs! The unparalleled acrobatics of the elves alone was enough to get my blood pumping and make me want to immerse myself into the world of Middle Earth forever and always. The fight scene when the dwarves were escaping the clutches of King Thranduil as well as the advances of the orcs was, and I’ll say it again, excellent! Who knew that a barrel could work so effectively as armour?

The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug (2013) was, in my opinion, pretty much everything I expected it to be and I cannot wait for the final installment The Hobbit: There and Back Again to be released at the end of 2014.

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