The second installment in The Hobbit trilogy, The Desolation of Smaug, is finally in theaters, and fans everywhere are thrilled that their expectations were met and surpassed by Peter Jackson’s truly incredible book adaption.
Complete with the extravagant effects, stunning scenery, and captivating adventure that made The Lord of the Rings trilogy such a successful franchise, The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug will remind viewers why they fell in love with Middle Earth in the first place.
After the Lord of the Rings trilogy successfully captivated millions of fans, it was only a matter of time until its prequel, The Hobbit, would make its way to the big screen. Yet from the very beginning, the idea of the film—or films, as it turned out—was met with mixed reviews. Many were scared that The Hobbit would not be able to match the pure critical success that was the Lord of the Rings. Others were wary of how the film would present the original novel by J.R.R. Tolkien, which was intended for a younger audience, and written in a much lighter and sillier tone, than the serious and highly realistic Lord of the Rings.
Then, when news broke that the movie would be turned into three installments, some fans were incredibly excited that the book was being drawn out, perhaps ensuring the inclusion of beloved minor characters and plots. Others thought the worst, for how could a three-hundred-page book become three long movies? After all, the Lord of the Rings film trilogy, which is roughly the same length, was taken from three four-hundred-page books.
After the first movie of The Hobbit was released, many fans were disappointed. The film did not meet their expectations, dragging on for no apparent reason and recounting scenes that were not even in the book. Additionally, it took roughly 44 minutes for Bilbo’s quest to begin. Some thought the film was just a moneymaker, devoid of any of the feeling and passion that so evidently went into the making of the earlier series.
It was with not-so-high hopes that fans went to theaters to continue the story that began with An Unexpected Journey, and the vast majority of those fans are now counting down the days until the third and final film. The second installment moved much faster than the first, reaching the end before most even felt the need to glance at their watches. Additionally, it was similar to the original trilogy in tone, capturing the dark and epic atmosphere of Middle Earth in ways the first failed to do. That initial failure may be due to an attempt to capture the lighter, more playful spirit of The Hobbit, but the recent shift has produced a more dynamic and more celebrated film.
Some critics are debating director Peter Jackson’s decision to include characters like Legolas, as he does not actually appear in the novel. However, the additions are probably what made this film work. While An Unexpected Journey also included many storylines that were not present in the book, few of those were necessary. The made-up plots served only to make the film drag on needlessly instead of providing the action and depth that was so sorely needed in An Unexpected Journey. The Desolation of Smaug, however, benefited immensely from these additions, using Legolas in a film that was truly riveting from start to finish.