The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug

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The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug
The Hobbit - The Desolation of Smaug theatrical poster.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Peter Jackson
Produced by
Screenplay by
Based on The Hobbit 
by J. R. R. Tolkien
Starring
Music by Howard Shore
Cinematography Andrew Lesnie
Edited by Jabez Olssen
Production
company
Distributed by Warner Bros. Pictures
Release dates
  • 2 December 2013 (2013-12-02) (Los Angeles premiere)
  • 12 December 2013 (2013-12-12) (New Zealand)
  • 13 December 2013 (2013-12-13) (United States)
Running time 161 minutes[1]
Country
  • New Zealand
  • United States[2]
Language English
Budget $225 million[3]
Box office $958,366,855[4]

The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug is a 2013 epic fantasy adventure film directed by Peter Jackson. It was produced by WingNut Films in collaboration with New Line Cinema and Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. It was distributed by Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc. and is the second installment in the three-part film series based on the novel The Hobbit by J. R. R. Tolkien. The film was preceded by An Unexpected Journey (2012) and will be followed by The Battle of the Five Armies (2014).

The film follows the titular character Bilbo Baggins as he accompanies Thorin Oakenshield and his fellow Dwarves on a quest to reclaim the Lonely Mountain from the dragon Smaug. The film also features the vengeful pursuit of Azog the Defiler and Bolg while Gandalf the Grey investigates a growing evil at the ruins of Dol Guldur. The ensemble cast includes Ian McKellen, Martin Freeman, Richard Armitage, Benedict Cumberbatch, Evangeline Lilly, Lee Pace, Luke Evans, Ken Stott, James Nesbitt, and Orlando Bloom.

Although originally planned as a two-part adaptation, it was later announced that a third film would be produced due to the scale of the project, and was subsequently retitled The Desolation of Smaug. The screenplay was written by Fran Walsh, Philippa Boyens, Peter Jackson, and Guillermo del Toro, who was credited for his contributions before his departure in May 2010. The films were shot simultaneously in 3D at a projection rate of 48 frames per second, with principal photography taking place around New Zealand and at Pinewood Studios. Additional filming took place throughout May 2013.[5]

The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug premiered on 2 December 2013 in Los Angeles and was released internationally on 11 December 2013 in both conventional and IMAX theatres. The film has grossed over $958 million at the worldwide box office, surpassing both The Fellowship of the Ring and The Two Towers nominally, making it the fourth highest-grossing film of 2013 and the 25th highest-grossing film of all time.

Plot[edit]

At the Inn of the Prancing Pony in Bree, Gandalf persuades Thorin Oakenshield to obtain the Arkenstone to unite the Dwarves, and suggests that a stealthy burglar may be needed to steal the jewel back from Smaug.

One year later, Thorin and his company are being pursued by Azog and his Orc party down the Carrock following the events of the previous film. Bilbo Baggins informs the group that a bear is also tracking them, and are ushered along by Gandalf to the nearby home of Beorn to seek his assistance. Beorn is revealed to be a skin-changer who sometimes takes the form of the bear. That night, Azog is summoned to Dol Guldur and instructs his son Bolg to take over the hunt for Thorin. The following day, Beorn escorts the company to the borders of Mirkwood, where Gandalf discovers Black Speech imprinted on an old ruin. This coincides with a telepathic message from Galadriel urging him to investigate the tombs of the Nazgûl. He warns the company to remain on the path and abruptly leaves. Upon entering the forest they lose their way and are ensnared by giant spiders. Bilbo then sets about freeing the dwarves with the help of the One Ring. He subsequently drops the ring and brutally kills a centipede-like creature to retrieve it.

The remaining spiders are fended off by the Wood-elves led by Tauriel and Legolas. They in turn capture the Dwarves, and bring Thorin before Thranduil. He confronts the Elvenking about his neglect of the Dwarves of Erebor following Smaug's attack 60 years before, and is consequently imprisoned with the other Dwarves. Bilbo, having avoided capture, arranges an escape using empty wine barrels that are sent downstream. While being pursued by the Wood-elves, they are ambushed by Bolg and his Orc party, and Kíli is wounded with a poisoned arrow. They engage in a running three-way battle down the river, but ultimately the Dwarves are able to escape both groups of pursuers. Thranduil then seals off his kingdom when an Orc captive reveals an evil entity has returned and is amassing an army in the south, but Tauriel decides to leave and assist the Dwarves along with Legolas. Meanwhile, Gandalf meets Radagast to investigate the tombs of the Nazgûl, which are found empty.

The company are then smuggled into Esgaroth by a boatman called Bard. Thorin promises the Master and the people of Lake-town a share of the mountain's treasure. It is then revealed that Bard is a descendant of the last ruler of Dale, and possesses the last black arrow capable of killing Smaug. Kili is forced to remain behind, tended to by Fíli, Óin, and Bofur, as the remaining company receive a grand farewell. Meanwhile, Gandalf travels south to the ruins of Dol Guldur, while Radagast leaves to warn Galadriel of their discovery at the tombs. Gandalf finds the ruins infested with Orcs and is ambushed by Azog. The Necromancer overwhelms Gandalf and reveals himself as Sauron.

Thorin and his remaining company reach the Lonely Mountain, where Bilbo discovers the hidden entrance. He is sent in to retrieve the Arkenstone, and while doing so accidentally awakens Smaug. Back in Lake-town, Bard attempts to bring the black arrow to the town's launcher, as he fears what may happen when the Dwarves enter the mountain. However, he is arrested in the process and leaves his son to hide the arrow. Bolg and his Orc party then infiltrate the town and attack the four Dwarves, but are quickly dispatched following the arrival of Tauriel and Legolas. Tauriel then tends to Kili, and the two acknowledge their affection toward one another, while Legolas leaves in pursuit of Bolg. Meanwhile, an imprisoned Gandalf watches as Azog and an Orc army march from Dol Guldur towards the Lonely Mountain.

Back inside the mountain, Bilbo and the Dwarves try to rekindle the mountain's forge in an attempt to kill Smaug by smothering him in molten gold. This fails, however, and the dragon flies out to Lake-town as Bilbo looks on in horror.

Cast[edit]

Additionally, Peter Jackson makes a cameo appearance in the film, reprising his role as the man eating a carrot in Bree, his daughter Katie portrays Barliman Butterbur's wife Betsy, James Nesbitt's daughters Peggy and Mary portray Tilda and Sigrid, the daughters of Bard the Bowman, Stephen Colbert and his family along with Evangeline Lilly's partner Norman Kali and producer Zane Weiner appear as Lake-town spies, editor Jabez Olssen appears as a fishmonger, and conceptional designers John Howe and Alan Lee appeared as a Lake-town musician.

Production[edit]

Most of the filming was finished during 2012, ending in July 2012, but during May 2013, additional shooting for the film and The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies, began in New Zealand, which lasted 10 weeks.[17][18][19] Unmanned aerial vehicles or drones were used for some shots in the film.[20]

Score[edit]

The musical score for The Desolation of Smaug was composed by Howard Shore in association with local New Zealand writing teams. It was performed by the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra. The original motion picture soundtrack album was released on December 10, 2013. It received positive reviews, especially for its new themes.

English singer-songwriter Ed Sheeran wrote and recorded "I See Fire", which plays during the end credits.[21] The song was released on iTunes on November 5, 2013.[22]

Release[edit]

Marketing[edit]

Benedict Cumberbatch at the Los Angeles premiere of the film.

Peter Jackson provided the first details about the second film in the series at a live event held on March 24, 2013.[23] The access code was attached to the DVD editions of The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey.[23] The live-broadcast event revealed some plot details; Jackson said that the role of Tauriel, acted by Evangeline Lilly, is a part of the elven guard and a bodyguard of the Elvenking, Thranduil.[23] In addition, he revealed a scene from the film in which Gandalf and Radagast the Brown search for the Necromancer fortress and discover that the Ringwraiths have been released from their graves.[23] The first trailer for the film was released on June 11, 2013.[24] On November 4, 2013, an extra long 3 minute trailer/sneak peek was released and revealed new footage and major plot points.[25][26] On November 4, 2013, a special Desolation of Smaug live online fan event, hosted by Anderson Cooper in New York, was held across eleven different cities with participants including Peter Jackson, Jed Brophy, Evangeline Lilly, Lee Pace, Orlando Bloom, Luke Evans, Andy Serkis and Richard Armitage.[27][28]

Martin Freeman, Richard Armitage, Benedict Cumberbatch, Luke Evans, Evangeline Lilly, Peter Jackson and, to a lesser extent, Orlando Bloom and Ian McKellen, took part in the press tour, appearing on talk shows and giving interviews before the film's release.

Theatrical release[edit]

The film premiered in Los Angeles at the Dolby Theatre on December 2, 2013,[29][30][31] and was released internationally on December 11, 2013 and in the United Kingdom and United States on December 13, 2013.[32]

Home media[edit]

The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug was released on DVD, Blu-ray, and Blu-ray 3D on 7 April 2014 in the United Kingdom[33] and on 8 April 2014 in the United States. Three different versions were released: a Limited Collector's Edition Blu-ray, Blu-ray 3D, DVD, and digital download combo pack; a Blu-ray 3D combo pack; a Blu-ray combo pack, and a two-disc DVD special edition. Extras include three making-of featurettes, 4 production web videos, and a music video for "I See Fire" by Ed Sheeran.[34]

An extended edition of The Desolation of Smaug will be released on 3D Blu-Ray and regular Blu-Ray November 4, 2014 in the United States and on November 3, 2014 in the United Kingdom, with over 25 minutes of new material and original music.[35]

Reception[edit]

Box office[edit]

The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug grossed $258,366,855 in North America and $700,000,000 in other countries for a worldwide total of $958,366,855.[36] It is the fourth highest-grossing 2013 film and the 25th highest-grossing film of all time. It grossed $209 million worldwide on its opening weekend.[37]

In North America, The Desolation of Smaug earned $8.8 million during its midnight opening, making it the second-highest December showing ever, behind only the first instalment.[38] The film topped the box office on its opening day with $31.2 million.[39] It remained in first place throughout its opening weekend, grossing $73,645,197, a 13% drop from its predecessor.[40] The Desolation of Smaug was in first place at the box office for three consecutive weekends.[41][42]

Outside North America, The Desolation of Smaug opened to $135.4 million in its opening weekend. Its largest openings occurred in China ($33.0 million),[43] Germany ($19.0 million) and the United Kingdom, Ireland and Malta ($15.2 million).[44] It topped the box office outside North America on four consecutive weekends[45] and five in total.[46] It is the highest-grossing film of 2013 in many European countries,[47] as well as in New Zealand and Fiji.[48]

Critical reaction[edit]

Following the Los Angeles premiere, Metro noted that early critical reaction was "glowing", with critics describing it as a "spectacle",[49] while The Guardian reported that it was receiving "much stronger early reviews".[50] However, before the film's theatrical release, E! reported that reviews had been "mixed", but stated they were still "much better" than the previous film.[51] After the film's international release, MTV reported that the film has garnered a "positive" critical reaction,[52] while the Los Angeles Times stated the consensus is that the film "reinvigorates" the series, putting it "back on course".[53] The review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes reported a 75% approval rating with an average rating of 6.9/10 based on 212 reviews. The website's consensus reads, "While still slightly hamstrung by "middle chapter" narrative problems and its formidable length, The Desolation of Smaug represents a more confident, exciting second chapter for the Hobbit series."[54] On aggregate review site Metacritic, the film has a score of 66 out of 100 based on 44 reviews, indicating "generally favorable" reviews.[55] According to CinemaScore polls the film received an "A-" from audiences.[56]

Nick de Semlyen of Empire awarded the film five stars out of five and wrote that "Middle-earth's got its mojo back. A huge improvement on the previous installment, this takes our adventurers into uncharted territory and delivers spectacle by the ton",[57] while Richard Corliss of TIME declared it one of the top ten films of 2013, and wrote "In all, this is a splendid achievement, close to the grandeur of Jackson’s Lord of the Rings films."[58] Justin Chang of Variety wrote that "After a bumpy beginning with An Unexpected Journey, Peter Jackson's 'Hobbit' trilogy finds its footing in this much more exciting and purposeful second chapter."[59] Todd McCarthy of Hollywood Reporter wrote that "Nearly everything... represents an improvement over the first installment of Peter Jackson's three-part adaptation of J.R.R. Tolkien's beloved creation." He also praised the High Frame Rate of The Desolation of Smaug as being better than that of An Unexpected Journey.[60] Mark Hughes, who reviewed the film for Forbes, was highly enthusiastic, and felt "The Desolation of Smaug is another grand entry in the Tolkien saga, raising the emotional and physical stakes while revealing more of the sinister forces," before concluding "It’s pleasing to see a filmmaker this in love with storytelling, this committed to creating entire worlds... that’s a rare thing indeed, and for it to turn out so well is even more rare. It’s a sight to behold, and you won’t be sorry you did."[61]

Peter Bradshaw of The Guardian scored the film four stars out of five, writing, "It's mysterious and strange, and yet Jackson also effortlessly conjures up that genial quality that distinguishes 'The Hobbit' from the more solemn 'Rings' stories."[62] Total Film also scored the film four stars out of five, but reviewer Matt Maytum noted that, in his opinion, the film suffered "from middle-act wobbles." Despite this, he praised the "rousing action... incredible visuals... and one stupendous dragon", and concluded his review saying "There’s a lot to admire in The Desolation of Smaug."[63] Jim Vejvoda, who reviewed the film for IGN, awarded it 8.5 out of 10, and felt "It's a breathlessly told, action-packed crowd-pleaser that restores the luster of the saga for those underwhelmed by its predecessor and leaves you excited for the final chapter in the trilogy."[64]

Conversely, Peter Travers, who reviewed the film for Rolling Stone, gave it two and a half stars out of four. He felt it was "a little less long and a little less boring" than the first installment, and offered praise for the depiction of Smaug, saying "as a digital creation, Smaug is a bloody wonder of slithering fright." He was, however, very critical of the film's padding of a "slender novel", but concluded: "I'd endure another slog through Middle-Earth just to spend more time with Smaug".[65] Robbie Collin of The Daily Telegraph was even less admiring, and awarded it two stars out of five. He too criticised the decision to turn Tolkien's book into three films and felt Jackson "is mostly stalling for time: two or three truly great sequences tangled up in long beards and longer pit-stops." He continued, writing "There is an awful lot of Desolation to wade through before we arrive, weary and panting, on Smaug's rocky porch," and disapproved of the introduction of a love triangle to Tolkien's narrative, adding: "Maybe this really is what a lot of people want to see from a film version of The Hobbit, but let's at least accept that Tolkien would probably not have been among them."[66] The New York Post's Lou Lumenick was extremely negative in his 1.5/4 star review and remarked "There are probably enough moments to satisfy hard-core fans, but for the rest of us, this amounts to the Middle Earth equivalent of “Star Wars: Episode II — Attack of the Clones,’’ a space-holding, empty-headed epic filled with characters and places (digital and otherwise) that are hard to keep straight, much less care about."[67]

Accolades[edit]

References[edit]

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External links[edit]