#746 – Review: The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug
Is there anything Benedict Cumberbatch can’t do?
He’s an amazing Sherlock.
He was a fierce Khan.
And now he almost stole the show as Smaug.
The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug furthers the adventures of Bilbo Baggins and his dwarven companions. I enjoyed The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey but not as much as any of the LOTR movies. I actually enjoyed The Desolation of Smaug more than An Unexpected Journey.
That might cause The Hobbit purists to cringe. The Desolation of Smaug takes even more liberties with Tolkien’s original story than An Unexpected Journey did. In The Desolation of Smaug Jackson has added more characters, created more conflict and invented wholly new sequences. I enjoyed the additions and thought they made for a more compelling and more coherent movie than the first.
Even though there were many additions Tokien’s dragon steals the show. The CGI used to create Smaug is absolutely amazing. I knew I was watching a CGI dragon but I still got lost in the menace of Smaug and the performance of Cumberbatch.
Here are some other thoughts I had while watching The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug.
Light and Darkness
The Lord of the Rings is definitely a more epic story than The Hobbit. The struggle in LOTR is between the greatest evil and the greatest good. The struggle in The Hobbit is between some minor bad guys and some minor good guys. Jackson has tried to up the level of the conflict in his Hobbit movies by including whispers of Sauron. For the most part, though, the dwarves just want to get home and orcs just want to kill the dwarves. There is a scene, though, in which Gandalf is forced to stand against the darkness. Gandalf is told that the light isn’t strong enough to defeat the darkness. Thankfully that isn’t true in The Lord of the Rings and it also isn’t true in our lives. No matter the depth of the darkness in our lives or the world around us, the light of Christ is strong enough to defeat it.
Much like their kin in Rivendell, the elves in Mirkwood and their king, Thranduil, don’t want much to do with the outside world. Thranduil can’t be forced to concern himself with the problems of men and dwarves. As long as his borders are safe, Thranduil couldn’t care less what happens beyond them. Sometimes Christians want to follow Thranduil’s example. If things are going well in our churches and in our homes, then we’re happy. The world and our neighbors may be falling around us but sometimes we can’t be bothered to notice. At Christmas we celebrate the reality that Jesus left the security of heaven’s boundaries in order to enter our brokenness. Jesus wasn’t an isolationist, which is a good thing for us. And if we choose not to be isolationists, it could be a good thing for those around us.
One of the best parts about the LOTR trilogy was the toll the Ring took on Frodo. Over the course of the three movies, Elijah Wood showed how the Ring was slowly eroding his life away. As Bilbo, Martin Freeman shows that same erosion as the Ring starts to change him. Even Thorin starts to change as he becomes more and more obsessed with taking back the Lonely Mountain and finding the Arkenstone. What I find interesting about these transformations is that they didn’t take place overnight. Frodo, Bilbo and Thorin slowly slip into the darkness of the Ring and their greed. There’s a good chance that when we slip into our own sin and darkness we’re a lot like the Bagginses and Oakenshield. Very often when we sin and turn our backs on Jesus, we do it a little at a time, slowly slipping away. We need people in our lives who will keep us from backsliding and also kick us on the backside when we do start to slip.
I enjoyed The Desolation of Smaug, much more than I thought I would. I know there will be plenty of detractors but the movie had good character development, exciting action sequences and, in spite of its lengthy running time, moved along rather well. At this point I’m very excited for next year’s The Hobbit: There and Back Again and may need to reread The Hobbit over my Christmas vacation.
What did you think about The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug?