After a storming opening weekend, THE HOBBIT: THE DESOLATION OF SMAUG is fast becoming one of the most talked-about movies from the juggernaut Jackson/Tolkien franchise.
But what if the previous instalments have passed you by? Fear not! I found that going in blind wasn’t a problem when it came to the latest Tolkien episode.
Cultural osmosis probably means you’re already aware of the Hobbit universe. The idea of a Dwarf (Richard Armitage) hiring a humanoid woodland creature named Bilbo (Martin Freeman) as a thief – magical ring and all – won’t be completely alien. If it seems bizarre that a wizard then convinces them to trek hundreds of miles through various kingdoms to fight a dragon, just go with it. Underneath the elf ears and fabulous hair, they’re really just like us.
The plot of THE HOBBIT: THE DESOLATION OF SMAUG is so self-contained that I was never confused about what was going on. I didn’t feel that I was missing any important information from AN UNEXPECTED JOURNEY; the intriguing wealth of characters just whetted my appetite for an extended-edition marathon with my friends when the DVD comes out.
But most importantly, THE DESOLATION OF SMAUG left me damn near giddy. There were thrills, there were spills, and there was some kissing. There were betrayals, confessions, a political uprising, and an eight-legged attack that gave me a nightmare.
The film also looks great: New Zealand combined with CGI creates a world I very much want to visit. Its fairy-tale beauty – rolling hills, rushing rivers, and the scary, shrouded mountain in the distance – forms the ideal backdrop for an adventure story, which is exactly what I found this to be.
Coming in at film five of six may not be the most logical entry point to a series, but I’m glad that I finally got around to making the leap. If you’ve yet to do so yourself, I recommend it. You’re in for a rollicking adventure.