Viewed – 20 December 2013 Cinema
I enjoyed the last film in this planned trilogy. Although more light hearted and therefore seemingly light weight compared to the grandeur of The Lord Of The Rings, it was still a joy to return to such a richly detailed and magical world as Middle Earth. We catch up with Bilbo Baggins (Martin Freeman) and his band of merry Dwarves in their quest to reach the lonely mountain and dethrone a sleeping dragon from their home. A hefty task for sure, but as explained in the opening, the real reason these Dwarves are so desperate to reclaim their home and their gold is because it houses a powerful crystal that will enable lead Dwarf Thorin Oakenshield (Richard Armitage) to claim his rightful place as the Dwarf king. Erm, could have done with that being said in the first movie, if you ask me…
Once again this is a fantastic setting, full of grand locations, brilliantly conceived villages, castle ruins, vistas – its a real treat for the eyes, and New Zealand is again showcased to a stunning degree. More serious in tone this time, with thankfully no Dwarf songs and surprisingly no Gollum (!) but what we do get is greater attention to individual characters, with better focus on each Dwarf rather than them blending into one another like last time. Sir Ian McKellen’s Gandalf is great as ever, and I warmed more to Freeman’s Bilbo this time. Add to this a returning familiar face in the shape of Orlando Bloom’s Legollas, aided by Lost’s Evangeline Lilly as a warrior elf looking every bit the part (and scrumptious to boot!).
Yet this movie’s undoing, unlike the previous one which seemed to fly by – is that it really does feel long and drawn out. Many scenes are stretched, and you get the impression some could do with being cut entirely (the whole Legolas, Tauriel and Killi love triangle). It’s clear to me that this is a story that could have been summed up in two movies more than three (which was the initial idea) but of course box office receipts mean lets get as much as we can out of this, even if the material just isn’t there … and that’s a fact that’s beginning to show. However, the movie remains full of character and has great sequences (the dragon encounter especially) and looks amazing throughout – but regardless, two movies in and it still lurks in the shadows of ‘Rings – and seems unlikely to escape that.
Verdict: 3.5 /5