Film review: The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug (8 out of 10)

Martin Freeman is The Hobbit
Martin Freeman is The Hobbit

A friend of mine turned down my offer to take them to see the second Hobbit movie because, ‘it’s just one big chase’.

Well, they might be right, but it’s one heck of a full-on, dramatic and superbly shot chase.

We have Orcs chasing dwarves and a hobbit, elves chasing Orcs, Lake-Town residents chasing themselves and a big hefty dragon chasing anything in its way.

This second in the Hobbit trilogy is a far more satisfying film - all 161 minutes of it.

We had the necessary introductions in the first films (plus a song or two).

Now it’s down to business as the dwarves make their way to reclaim their homeland Erebor from the dragon Smaug.

In parallel to this story we also have Gandalf the Grey tracking down a mysterious dark magical figure who is gathering an army of Orcs.

Although the films were shot pretty much in one go, it’s interesting to see Martin Freeman as the hobbit Bilbo Baggins settling far more comfortably into the role second time round.

Sir Ian McKellan remains, as ever, impressive as Gandalf while Richard Armitage as the exiled dwarf king Thorin has a far meatier part in this film.

Of course, the trip to Erebor is full of menace and we have a man who turns into a bear, giant spiders, woodland elves and Stephen Fry as the Master of Lake-Town causing problems along the way.

In fact, as I haven’t read the book, I started to get a little muddled when people’s names and place-names were bandied about.

Director Peter Jackson, as you would expect, has continued to create a visual masterpiece and the dragon Smaug (voiced by Benedict Cumberbatch) is very impressive.

The use of 3D isn’t anywhere near the best I’ve encountered but Jackson’s use of sweeping landscapes is top-notch.

After approaching three hours of viewing, audiences may feel the end is bit abrupt but it certainly sets things up for the final part.

And I have to confess that the time did fly by.

Film details: The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug (12A) 161mins

Director: Peter Jackson

Starring: Martin Freeman, Ian McKellan, Richard Armitage

Screening courtesy of Cineworld Crawley