Review by Brookelin Thorpe

The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug – Has Too Many The’s in the Title

The second Hobbit movie, The Desolation of Smaug, delivers what a Lord of the Rings franchise film can always be counted on to deliver: impeccable costume design, fathomless landscapes, convincing cities, and probably 12 climaxes.

And also a big-ass dragon.

Let’s talk about the dragon first, since Benedict Cumberbatch is the only reason I paid to watch Lord of the Rings in theaters twice (haha, I’m kidding, it was free).

I have a lot of questions about Smaug, most of which have to do with what in the hell does a hermetic dragon need a football stadium full of gold for? Is he buying food with it, because that’s my second question – what the hell is he eating down there? You can’t tell me that he’s hibernating and doesn’t need to eat, because they made him massive.

I bet that motherfucker needs to eat a horse every hour.

But, by all accounts, he spends 100% of his time sitting on and guarding his gold. So how does that work? Does the occasional oliphant wander by?

And what does he do all day? What is his life? We know he can’t leave the giant single-place-we-put-exactly-all-of-our-money chamber, because if he did, then they could’ve just stolen the thing they need when he left. So what? He just hangs out with his money all day every day? For centuries? Does he have a servant who comes in and brings him a magazine every once in a while?

I’m so confused about how his entire existence works, but I don’t even care because BENEDICT CUMBERBATCH.

For those of you out there who are mega fans of Sherlock (read: for those of you out there who have seen Sherlock), I’m happy to tell you that Cumberbatch’s powerful and intimidating presence spills out of Smaug like hot, terrifying magma, and is totally worth going to see the movie just for that – if you couldn’t be convinced otherwise.

The scenes with his voice and Martin Freeman conversing feel exactly like home.

Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman
He wants the D. He wants the D so bad.

Speaking of – I’m a big fan of Martin Freeman (obviously), but I feel like his young Bilbo Baggins could just as easily be John Watson if you plucked him out of London and dropped him off in Middle Earth. Not that John Watson is a bad character to encounter more than once.

Freeman brings a wonderful, intelligently confused air to nearly every scene Bilbo’s in. He has a knack for getting surprised by things, taking a comedic beat to be the only man in the room who has noticed it, and then carry on.

It’s delightful to watch. Just like his John Watson.

An argument can easily be made that a lot of the characters in The Hobbit are merely translations of characters from The Lord of the Rings. Thorin is obviously Aragorn. Tauriel is kind of like Arwen. Bilbo is Frodo. And Gandalf pulls the same shit he did in Lord of the Rings.


He started off a crazy badass, but slowly we’re all starting to wonder if he’s just crazy and an ass.

Except Bilbo is also not at all Frodo. He’s taken the exact same role Frodo took, but given us back something wildly different.

In both franchises, Gandalf plucks a simple hobbit out of the Shire and sends him off on a perilous journey he isn’t exactly cut out for. Both hobbits come to possess the one ring to rule them all and both of them have some sort of (mild) resistance to it as compared to other characters. Both serve as the protagonist and are out of their element.

But Frodo was innocent and burdened. Martin Freeman’s Bilbo may be unacclimated, but he is certainly not innocent – and he’s not so much burdened by the ring as he is curious and opportunistic about it.

And while Bilbo may be honorable, he is not honor-driven in the way that Frodo was (or will be, depending on which way you look at it). Frodo was an every-man type of character playing the centerpiece to most of the series. Bilbo, on the other hand, is just along for the ride and is brimming with personality – which we might expect from a more side-line character. He is both the titular character and comedic relief – a rare literary dynamic.

The casting director must have been a true genius because the whole set is filled with actors people want to see in their movies simply for the sake of seeing them. And it’s a wonder that they were able to do so considering how unremarkable the first Hobbit was.

Stephen Fry plays the inexplicably despicable Master of Laketown. He does marvelously at it, but I just can’t bring myself to hate him as I feel I’m meant to. I don’t understand his character’s motivations entirely, but I love being treated to Fry’s singular presence on the screen. And of course Fry can hardly be blamed for our lack of insight into the character – it’s well-documented that Tolkein was less interested in the stories he was creating as he was in the language and world they were inserted into.

We are treated to a satisfying dose of Legolas in The Desolation of Smaug. Not much in the way of character development, but the fight scenes with him and the other long, agile elves are captivating. They leap across boulders, logs and rivers with grace and ease. More than one well-choreographed battle elicited audible awe from the audience.

One can only posit that the physics of Middle Earth vary slightly from those on our world – and I am totally okay with that.

For a solid hour, I was convinced that Orlando Bloom was in this movie twice, but no – it turns out that Luke Evans just looks a fuck-of-a-lot like him.

Luke Evans as Bard the Bowman looks just like Orlando Bloom
Somehow not Orlando Bloom.

He even delivers his lines with the same naive gravity we might expect from Bloom in similar roles. Check him out at the 0:44 mark:

A Few Other Cool Things

Did anybody else think that it looked like the cameras used during the river scene were totally different from the cameras used in the rest of the movie? It kept distracting me during this amazing fight scene that it looked like it was filmed with regular film cameras for the above water parts and then switched to what looked like scuba diving cameras for the underwater bits.

Smaug’s chest is breathtaking. I can’t find a picture of it anywhere, so I guess you’ll just have to check it out yourself.

Spoiler alert!

How the fuck did Smaug get under that mountain of coins?? Does he just tunnel into the piles and rub the gold all over himself? How does he breath with coins obviously covering his nostrils? Does he ever wake up and panic for a second, going, “oh God, I’VE GONE BLIND- oh wait, no I haven’t. I’m just under gold. Ahhhhh, every time.” And again – is he rubbing his money all over himself?

I feel like my life will be a little bit better if I know the answer to that question.

The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug – Has Too Many The’s in the Title

The second Hobbit movie, The Desolation of Smaug, delivers what a Lord of the Rings franchise film can always be counted on to deliver: impeccable costume design, fathomless landscapes, convincing cities, and probably 12 climaxes.

And also a big-ass dragon.

Let’s talk about the dragon first, since Benedict Cumberbatch is the only reason I paid to watch Lord of the Rings in theaters twice (haha, I’m kidding, it was free).

I have a lot of questions about Smaug, most of which have to do with what in the hell does a hermetic dragon need a football stadium full of gold for? Is he buying food with it, because that’s my second question – what the hell is he eating down there? You can’t tell me that he’s hibernating and doesn’t need to eat, because they made him massive.

I bet that motherfucker needs to eat a horse every hour.

But, by all accounts, he spends 100% of his time sitting on and guarding his gold. So how does that work? Does the occasional oliphant wander by?

And what does he do all day? What is his life? We know he can’t leave the giant single-place-we-put-exactly-all-of-our-money chamber, because if he did, then they could’ve just stolen the thing they need when he left. So what? He just hangs out with his money all day every day? For centuries? Does he have a servant who comes in and brings him a magazine every once in a while?

I’m so confused about how his entire existence works, but I don’t even care because BENEDICT CUMBERBATCH.

For those of you out there who are mega fans of Sherlock (read: for those of you out there who have seen Sherlock), I’m happy to tell you that Cumberbatch’s powerful and intimidating presence spills out of Smaug like hot, terrifying magma, and is totally worth going to see the movie just for that – if you couldn’t be convinced otherwise.

The scenes with his voice and Martin Freeman conversing feel exactly like home.

Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman
He wants the D. He wants the D so bad.

Speaking of – I’m a big fan of Martin Freeman (obviously), but I feel like his young Bilbo Baggins could just as easily be John Watson if you plucked him out of London and dropped him off in Middle Earth. Not that John Watson is a bad character to encounter more than once.

Freeman brings a wonderful, intelligently confused air to nearly every scene Bilbo’s in. He has a knack for getting surprised by things, taking a comedic beat to be the only man in the room who has noticed it, and then carry on.

It’s delightful to watch. Just like his John Watson.

An argument can easily be made that a lot of the characters in The Hobbit are merely translations of characters from The Lord of the Rings. Thorin is obviously Aragorn. Tauriel is kind of like Arwen. Bilbo is Frodo. And Gandalf pulls the same shit he did in Lord of the Rings.


He started off a crazy badass, but slowly we’re all starting to wonder if he’s just crazy and an ass.

Except Bilbo is also not at all Frodo. He’s taken the exact same role Frodo took, but given us back something wildly different.

In both franchises, Gandalf plucks a simple hobbit out of the Shire and sends him off on a perilous journey he isn’t exactly cut out for. Both hobbits come to possess the one ring to rule them all and both of them have some sort of (mild) resistance to it as compared to other characters. Both serve as the protagonist and are out of their element.

But Frodo was innocent and burdened. Martin Freeman’s Bilbo may be unacclimated, but he is certainly not innocent – and he’s not so much burdened by the ring as he is curious and opportunistic about it.

And while Bilbo may be honorable, he is not honor-driven in the way that Frodo was (or will be, depending on which way you look at it). Frodo was an every-man type of character playing the centerpiece to most of the series. Bilbo, on the other hand, is just along for the ride and is brimming with personality – which we might expect from a more side-line character. He is both the titular character and comedic relief – a rare literary dynamic.

The casting director must have been a true genius because the whole set is filled with actors people want to see in their movies simply for the sake of seeing them. And it’s a wonder that they were able to do so considering how unremarkable the first Hobbit was.

Stephen Fry plays the inexplicably despicable Master of Laketown. He does marvelously at it, but I just can’t bring myself to hate him as I feel I’m meant to. I don’t understand his character’s motivations entirely, but I love being treated to Fry’s singular presence on the screen. And of course Fry can hardly be blamed for our lack of insight into the character – it’s well-documented that Tolkein was less interested in the stories he was creating as he was in the language and world they were inserted into.

We are treated to a satisfying dose of Legolas in The Desolation of Smaug. Not much in the way of character development, but the fight scenes with him and the other long, agile elves are captivating. They leap across boulders, logs and rivers with grace and ease. More than one well-choreographed battle elicited audible awe from the audience.

One can only posit that the physics of Middle Earth vary slightly from those on our world – and I am totally okay with that.

For a solid hour, I was convinced that Orlando Bloom was in this movie twice, but no – it turns out that Luke Evans just looks a fuck-of-a-lot like him.

Luke Evans as Bard the Bowman looks just like Orlando Bloom
Somehow not Orlando Bloom.

He even delivers his lines with the same naive gravity we might expect from Bloom in similar roles. Check him out at the 0:44 mark:

A Few Other Cool Things

Did anybody else think that it looked like the cameras used during the river scene were totally different from the cameras used in the rest of the movie? It kept distracting me during this amazing fight scene that it looked like it was filmed with regular film cameras for the above water parts and then switched to what looked like scuba diving cameras for the underwater bits.

Smaug’s chest is breathtaking. I can’t find a picture of it anywhere, so I guess you’ll just have to check it out yourself.

Spoiler alert!

How the fuck did Smaug get under that mountain of coins?? Does he just tunnel into the piles and rub the gold all over himself? How does he breath with coins obviously covering his nostrils? Does he ever wake up and panic for a second, going, “oh God, I’VE GONE BLIND- oh wait, no I haven’t. I’m just under gold. Ahhhhh, every time.” And again – is he rubbing his money all over himself?

I feel like my life will be a little bit better if I know the answer to that question.

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