HUB Movie Review: The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug

Story posted March 26, 2014 in CommRadio by Sofia Westin

Burn, baby burn. Burn, baby burn. That’s what I think Smaug sings when he uses his personal flame thrower to desolate.

The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug is the second installment of The Hobbit Trilogy, following An Unexpected Journey, which started everything back in 2012. It was indeed a very long wait before the second one came out, but as of now, it is only nine months until the third one is set to be released. Thanks, Peter Jackson.

Anyways, so the Dwarves of Erebor are continuing their quest to reclaim their homeland with their little burglar-hobbit, Bilbo. They run into quite a bit of trouble, with the White Orc Azog still chasing them, all the while other dangers are looming in the south.

That is where we find the company, as the movie starts: everyone is together. However, about some thirty minutes into the film, Gandalf (Ian McKellen) decides to go off on his own (like in Lord of the Rings—everyone splits up intentionally). He has to investigate how an evil relic, hidden away for thousands of years, found itself in this age.

As the company splits once, and then later again, the movie does follow the three story lines of the original company, while also adding two story lines consisting of an ordinary man and  two elves, one of which is Legolas (I am so happy Orlando Bloom is back to play the thoughtful and mysterious bowman). The second elf is completely new. She (yes, I know, a woman) is a strong, able and dangerous female character that you have been waiting to see in the Tolkien universe. The man, Bard, is one torn between the law and the moral, and that of his forefathers.

Let’s not forget the main character and ultimate foe of the film however: Smaug, the dragon who will, “melt the flesh off your bones in the blink of an eye.” Lovely. He is massive, he is dangerous, he is hot, he is intelligent, he is greedy. Him the dwarves must defeat if they are to win back Erebor. Would it be too obvious to say the dwarves are at a slight disadvantage?

Audiences loved the movie, with an 8.2 audience rating on IMDb, but critics were less enthusiastic. Metascore gave it a 66 and RottenTomatoes, though certifying it ‘fresh’, gave it 66 as well. However, there were more positive critics reviews than negative. It was nominated for three Oscars.

On the Penn State Scale...
1—when Penn State loses a game,
2—an 8 a.m class (which are awful),
3—a canceled 8 a.m class,
4— free textbooks,
and 5—free Creamery ice cream for a whole year,

Desolation is a solid 4. Though all the CGI made my eyes tired after a while and the love story was completely unnecessary, the plot and acting are strong. Lee Pace as Thranduil, though we only see him for a short sequence, does a stunning job as the cold elf king. Richard Armitage as Thorin does stupendously in displaying perhaps some madness that lies deep within Thorin. Martin Freeman as Bilbo acts amazingly to show the Ring is starting to take hold of Bilbo. Ian McKellen does unbelievably well, as always, doing his own stunts and everything (and he’s 74!).

This adventurous movie often makes you feel the thrill of the chase. You’re impressed by the fighting sequences, and you greatly appreciate the subtle Lord of the Rings setups (if you know the movies inside me).

Smaug the dragon, who unfortunately doesn’t show up until the end, steals the show. Forget Gandalf, Bilbo and Thorin, everything about Smaug is incredible. You feel the threat when you see his size. When he talks, depending on the sound system, you can hear and feel the deep base of his voice (thank you Benedict Cumberbatch’s voice). His characterization is colorful and well developed.

Overall, I like the fact that the movie is darker than the first one. Unexpected Journey was much more lighthearted and funny, though the danger was ever-present in the background. Now, things are legit: the point of the quest is brought full circle as the characters face the danger head on, both through Gandalf’s and Bilbo’s storylines.

Sofia Westin is a freshman majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact her, email