For four epic Middle-earth adventures, director Peter Jackson has brought to life the famous hobbits, dwarfs, elves, orcs, and wizards from J.R.R. Tolkien’s imagination. But in The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, part 2 of Jackson’s three-part quest to wring ever last ounce of drama from Tolkien’s slim Lord of the Ring‘s predecessor, the visual feast starts and ends with a giant dragon who sounds an awful lot like Sherlock Holmes.
Smaug is the apocalypse-breathing dragon who evicted the dwarfs from their mountain home and now swims in their treasure. Jackson has compared Smaug to Hannibal Lecter, and the allure of his inevitable confrontation with Bilbo (Martin Freeman) promises to be as anticipated and delighted in as the hobbit’s first encounter with Gollum in the previous movie, An Unexpected Journey. “The dragon is, quite simply, a marvel,” writes EW’s Owen Gleiberman, “gargantuan yet balletic, hoarding his mountain of gold with a razor-toothed smile, breathing not just flame but an inferno, and voiced by Benedict Cumberbatch with the most delicious, insidious knowledge.”
Joining Bilbo in the second leg of his adventure, along with Gandalf (Ian McKellen) and the baker’s dozen of dwarfs, is a familiar face from the Rings trilogy: Orlando Bloom’s Legolas, who wasn’t originally written in The Hobbit. Jackson and his co-writers, Fran Walsh and Philippa Boyens, go even further outside the Tolkien canon with Tauriel (Evangeline Lilly), a wholly-invented female-warrior elf who introduces a romantic thread not entirely unwelcome in the film, according to many critics.
Before you head to the theater — wearing your fuzzy hobbit slippers, of course — click below to see what the leading critics are saying about The Desolation of Smaug. READ FULL STORY