Sunday, 22 December 2013

The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug - The scoop and digest

Due to seeing this earlier than anticipated, this year's feature curtain is definitely brought down.

An Unexpected Journey was literally all mouth and little in the trouser department.

I challenged Peter Jackson to deliver something more stimulating so is this just what the doctor ordered or another mound of shire?

Plot details and/or spoilers will be more intense than before...

The Lonely Mountain looms large for:

Martin Freeman – Bilbo
Ian McKellen – Gandalf
Richard Armitage – Thorin
Orlando Bloom – Legolas
Benedict Cumberbatch – Smaug (voice)
Evangeline Lilly – Tauriel
Luke Evans – Bard

At The Prancing Pony drinking pit, Gandalf more or less tells Thorin to help obtain the Arkenstone which lies within the Lonely Mountain.

However, it won’t be possible without the services of a light fingered burglar.

Enter Mr. Baggins...

Led by Azog, those Orcs remain pissed at Thorin.

In the first, the pint sized menace was labelled ‘scum’ but now; the insult tune is changed to ‘filth’.

Okay, whatever.

Gandalf advises to evade the company of Warg riders, they must take refuge at the home of somebody who will either help or kill them.

It’s obviously a win, win situation.

We meet skin-changer Beorm who has the ability to transform into a giant rampaging bear (as we've already seen).

Beorm isn't the greatest host but doesn't take the decision to kill and allows them to stay.

At Dol Guldur, Azog enlists the help of his son Bolg to assist with dwarf hunt.

Gandalf suddenly leaves after seeing some graffiti and warns Thorin not to enter the Mountain without him.

While in the forest, the gang find themselves woven in silk as giant spiders prepare several snacks.

Bilbo gives Boris the Spider the point and escapes.  He then releases the others as they set about destroying several eight-legged freaks.

During the massacre, Bilbo makes decent use of the invisibility that the ring provides.

Legolas and Tauriel arrive and help but the Dwarves are then imprisoned for upsetting the Elven King.

Bilbo evades capture and again proves to be their saviour as he unlocks each cell in the traditional manner.

As a raft or canoe isn't available, they’ll have to ride the rapids inside wine barrels.

The elves are right on their asses but the presence of Orcs brings a problem that is quickly dealt with.

Bard and his barge to ensure the next destination of Laketown is reached.

Apart from meeting the Sire or King of this place, we learn that the only projectile capable of penetrating Smaug’s tougher than old boots hide is a Black Arrow but these are rarer then chicken’s teeth.

Who knows, Bard might just have one conveniently hidden away...

Stephen Fry’s brandy swilling royal was completely unnecessary and Lord Melchett shouldn't be happy.

Meanwhile, Gandalf is surprised and overpowered by Azog in the ruins of Nazgul whose staff fails to bring light to the darkness the Necromancer consumes.

Okay, this dude is principal bad guy Sauron.

It’s been a long slog but the Lonely Mountain is finally reached.

Elation turns to dejection as the sun sets and they fail to locate the secret keyhole to gain access.

Bilbo hangs back and realises that when the question is asked, moonlight answers.

Hey presto, the door’s open boys and girls.

Our stealthy thief is charged with retrieving the Arkenstone and in doing so; he’d do well not to disturb the slumber of a certain dragon...

As he stumbles about searching for the glowing jewel, the flying furnace is indeed awoken.

Oops.

During a lengthy chat, Bilbo notices that the Black Arrow legend is true as an old wound is brought into focus.

Back at Laketown, the Orcs are causing more mischief and Legolas has a fair old scrap with Bolg.

After an even draw, Bolg calmly retreats.

Legolas pursues him on horseback while Azog and the Orc remainder set off for the Mountain.

After a game of cat and mouse, the Dwarves give Smaug a wash and courtesy of a giant statue, drown him in molten gold.

Their attempts prove futile as the beast emerges from his golden hell and roaring ‘revenge’, he takes flight and plots the destination for Laketown.

Proceedings are brought to a close as Bilbo displays a look of horror as the town and its people look certain to be more deep fried than chips.

What a difference a year and/or instalment makes.

It’s another protracted affair but bores far less than its predecessor.

Action pie serves proficient but hardly thrilling entertainment including Orc overkill, spiders, rapids and of course Smaug, 

Smaug is a digital delight and along with performance capture, Cumberbatch impressively provides the yap.

His treasure hoard and chamber can now be appreciated on a far grander scale.

Despite such a rich appearance, are we to believe that he'd be tricked so easily?

No.  It just takes the piss out of such a formidable foe.

This CGI spectacle is quite a change from the 1977 cartoon as ‘Cat’ Dragon had eyes acting as torches.

While dialogue is an improvement, using subtitles and switching to English in the same scene is inconsistent and doesn't make sense.

As we’re talking dragons, the immortal voice of Sean Connery leaving the lips of Draco makes 1996 fantasy Dragonheart likable.

Stuff CGI, the flying nasty Vermithrax from Dragonslayer is unquestionably the cream of the crop so if you haven’t already had the pleasure; I’d recommend taking the time with some enthusiasm.

Even now, you cannot help but marvel at the special effects from 1981.

The decision of soaking Smaug with hot sauce is laughably Alien 3.

Do you know what’s really weird?

Prisoner Golic refers to the alien as a ‘dragon’ which I'm sure qualifies as an awesome coincidence.

In the violent action anime Ninja Scroll (not to be confused with the television series), molten gold proves to be downfall for the seemingly indestructible Gemma.

There is no knowledge that isn't power.

Just to annoy me, There and Back Again has been pushed back until Christmas time as it was originally set to hit the UK in July.

I guess they thought a summer blockbuster wouldn't make as much money...

Unless the running time is cut unexpectedly short, we’re a numb bum away from wrapping this epic present up and without putting the hex on matters; I await the conclusion with bated breath.

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