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Non-Review Review: The Hobbit – The Desolation of Smaug

The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug represents a considerable improvement on The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey. Some of the same problems still lurk at the edge of the frame: the pacing needs a bit of work; the movie is about half-an-hour too long; it feels a little too consciously like one extended prelude to The Lord of the Rings. And yet, despite all these flaws, The Desolation of Smaug accomplishes a lot of what it sets out to do.

This is very clearly the same Middle Earth that viewers remember from The Lord of the Rings. Even the least obsessive viewer will still recognise the occasional familiar landmark or setting from the early film. It’s not just the New Zealand locations that shine through; great care has been taken to establish a geography of this fictional landscape. Viewers who have yet to memorise the names and routes on Tolkien’s meticulously-prepared maps can see that this is the same world.

It’s just being seen from a different perspective. The Hobbit isn’t really an adaptation of that much-loved adventure tale, at least not exclusively. It is instead being crafted as a companion piece, with the heroes’ quest providing a handy travelogue of a world in turmoil.

The gold standard?

The gold standard?

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Watch! The Hobbit: Desolation of Smaug Trailer!

The latest trailer for The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug has arrived on-line. Check it out below. While I’ll concede that The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey was over-long and quite padded, I enjoyed it more than most. Part of that is down to Martin Freeman’s charisma, but also in the way that Jackson seems to relish the relatively lower stakes of this story. (Musical dish-cleaning sequence anyone?) I’ll admit that I’m curious to see what Jackson’s second installment holds in store. That said, the trailer does seem to suggest quite a lot of superfluous material – a Legolas romantic subplot? really? – but it also teases Benedict Cumberbatch as a flame-throwing pun-wielding dragon. So it’s safe to say the jury’s still out.