Smaug is one of the coolest dragons in cinema. He is slinky and sinuous. That he is voiced by Mr. Sexy Brainiac, Benedict Cumberbatch, just made him hotter than ever. The whole Smaug introduction is a kind of reverse strip tease. We first see a little shiver on a river of gold coins. Then we see a glowing eye, a wicked snout, a hint of shiny scale, a bat of leathery wing and finally, whoosh! There he is in all his sinewy serpentine glory. In fact, the whole Bilbo-Smaug interaction is way cool and the fight with dwarves led by Thorin Oakenshield is full on paisa vasool.
The sharp-eyed elf, Legolas, with his hair like fine spun gold, shows us a very good time shooting arrows as he slides down many things never losing sight of his target. There is also a very imaginative scene involving nasty orcs, a runaway barrel, a torrent and many wet dwarves. This is all on the plus side of the second instalment of Peter Jackson’s adaptation of JRR Tolkien’s The Hobbit. On the minus side is the length — 161 minutes felt too long. This coming from someone who sat through 201 minutes of The Return of the King and wanted more, means the problem was not with the length as much as with the material.
The whole film felt long drawn out. Maybe the thought of the slim, charming, little book being stretched to a movie behemoth prompted the feeling. Also that whole track of Legolas and Tauriel seemed forced.
The actors did what they could. Ian McKellen as Gandalf looked wise and wonderful. Martin Freeman as Bilbo looked awestruck (at the CGI perhaps?). Richard Armitage as Thorin looked noble and did the mandatory Brave Heart speech. Orlando Bloom squinted into the distance (wondering when he can step out in jeans to inhabit the here and now) as Legolas and Evangeline Lilly as Tauriel (a sadder version of Liv Tyler’s Arwen) tried their best to grab some screen time from the CGI.
Bilbo’s horror struck “What have we done?” could be echoing common sentiment.
Director: Peter Jackson
Cast: Ian McKellen, Martin Freeman, Richard Armitage, Benedict Cumberbatch, Evangeline Lilly, Orlando Bloom
Storyline: Bilbo Baggins has to battle the last dragon while darkness spreads across the land.
Bottomline: Fantasy fatigue