It’s been a long time since I read “The Hobbit”. I devoured that book before the first LOTR flick came to the cinemas, and although the story didn’t stick as profoundly as the epic brick of a sequel did, I have always remembered it fondly and deeply appreciated the fact that all the names in the first chapter of The Fellowship of the Ring were less daunting because I already knew some of them from “the Hobbit”.

Both me and my BF were underwelmed by the first installment of “the Hobbit”. It is not that it was bad, because it is not. It wasn’t that we weren’t entertained, because I can’t remember being bored. It was partly that we were sat in the third row in the London BFI IMAX cinema (and anyone who has sat this far to the front in this cinema knows you are in for some neck exercises of another world) but mostly it was the fact that when we walked out of the cinema, I could pin point the best scene of the movie (the exchange between Bilbo and Gollum in the caves).

I can’t pin point the best scene in “The Desolation of Smaug”. There are way too many.

And by way to many, I am not even talking in single, isolated moments like scenes. I am talking characters and notions that span sequences and scatter throughout the movie.

Number 1: Evangeline Lily as the Mirkwood elf Tauriel.

For one thing, this is where you will sit and have a small mind fuck, because it is Evangeline Lily, but with the make-up exentuating the typical elfen features (the cheekbones in particular) she has morphed into an elf version of Evangeline Lily. You sometimes recognize her, sometime not. I don’t know about the rest of the audience, but that kept my mind occupied a fair number of times just in determining that it was actually her. I am not one to go hating on a strong female character with a cross bow anyway. Anyone who knows me will remember my excellent stunt at using the cross bow in the desert in Mongolia (or maybe just my Cuz who tries to forget that he sucked at it). Also slightly sweet and entertaining is the flirt between one of the dwarves (the young and careless Kili) and Tauriel with Legolas glooming with jealousy in the background. (To note, I do not mind Legolas in this movie, I see the benefits of as many tie ins as possible, but the weird thing is that he looks older, his eyes look wiser. I have a feeling this is a deliberate make-up and visual effects choice and will therefore be looking out for the reason why he suddenly turns childish and younger again. Or maybe he just got too old for make-up;)

Evangeline Lily as the (lowly) wood elf Tauriel

Evangeline Lily as the (lowly) wood elf Tauriel

Number 2: The Story

The whole story flow of this instalment is a lot more organic than the previous film. While the first one had a distinct feeling of stalling and dragging out events that really could have been dealt with swiftly (the numerous fights between dwarves and orks), this one moves rapidly forwards (or as rapidly as I would want it to) with hang-ups and detours that grow naturally out of the story lay-out. Look out for an epic, soon-to-become-waterslide, sequence where the dwarves and Bilbo escape from the Mirkwood elves and have to fight orks at the same time while in barrels down a rapid river. It is both exciting and hilarious.

Thorin being all manly dawrfy in the barrel run sequence

Thorin being all manly dawrfy in the barrel run sequence

Number 3: Smaug

Some people have complained that the sequence in the treasury of Smaug is too long. Now they can all go if they don’t want to watch it, but I wouldn’t cut a second of Cumberbatch’s glorious, fierce and fabulous dragon. Tyra Banks would have made that dragon America’s Next Top Model. He is sassy, moves like a slithering, glittering wave and has the pride and grace of an old Hollywood diva has-been. I love it. I love it more than when I read the book. No dragon has ever been able to meet the expectations that build up in my fantasy while reading about such fantastic creatures. Not until now. Peter Jackson alledgedly spent alot of effort getting the dragon right, and that effort has definitely paid off. Never would I have thought that something as unrealistic as a talking dragon (as if dragon in itself is not unrealistic enough) would be the dragon that makes me a reaffirmed believer in their existence (in past, present or future).

In this world of excessive VFX use, I rarely gush over it as it has become a norm and I usually am not impressed. This dragon impressed me. So there.

Bilbo facing the fabulous fierceness of Smaug

Bilbo facing the fabulous fierceness of Smaug

My usual measurement for a great film is fairly simple, vaguely arbitrary (although sometimes ridiculously predictable) and subject to mood swings. Feelings.

Does the movie make me feel anything?

Usually these feelings are sadness, happy tears, laughter, love, desire, anger, fear, hatred… And although “The Desolation of Smaug” touches on all of these emotions, it doesn’t really yank hard and make me cry a lonely tear (read loud, shaking sobs) or make me so scared I can’t keep watching. It gave me a much more important feeling, from beginning to end. It made me feel like a child again. Wonder and awe just bursting from the depths of my imagination.

Full suspension of disbelief. Giddy and silly. Full child.

Full irrevocable, unsustainable fleeting joy

Full irrevocable, unsustainable fleeting joy

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