I have mixed feelings about The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug. On one hand, it’s a great movie for kids – a rollocking adventure that features some well conceptualised action. On the other, it’s a movie filled with CGI-excess (poorly rendered CG at that) and it shows that Peter Jackson has no interest in directing this Lord Of The Rings prequel trilogy. This is a film made by a man who wants to get it all shot and released so he can move on with his life. A life without Hobbits.

This extended version of Jackson’s film has an additional 25 minutes. An extended debut helps set the scene an the rest of the running time pretty much lets things breathe, adding a few extra plot and character beats throughout the film. As an extended cut it brings an added layer to the film that hardcore fans of The Lord Of The Rings and The Hobbit will appreciate.

The Desolation Of Smaug fits into the world of the Lord Of The Rings movies. The film features echoes of Jackson’s seminal J.R.T Tolken trilogy, referencing events and characters but it feels like someone aping Jackson’s type rather than a director returning to a world that he created. Tonally and visually the film is all over the place, with slapstick comedy sitting uncomfortably beside action – and there’s a lot of action. 90% of the movie appears to have been created on a computer – even the orcs, which in the last trilogy were good old fashioned prosthetics. It seems as if Jackson couldn’t be bothered to shoot these things on set and that just wanted to get the film in the can (or the microchip) so that the special effects guys could do the heavy lifting. There are scenes in the film made-up of location shooting, stage-bound sets and CGI created characters and vistas – and boy, are these noticeable for what they are. This hodgepodge of styles is grating and it illustrates Jackson’s disregard for visual continuity. The original Lord Of The Rings movies were a labour of love; this is a contractual obligation.

Peter Jackson movies have always had a sense of fun and Desolation Of Smaug has a lot of ‘fun moments’. This is a movie that will be the ultimate movie for a 10 year old. They’ll overlook the gaps in plot, logic and the rules of physics. It’s the Time Bandits for the youth of today and the film comes with of the bloated excess that fill’s modern blockbusters.

Orlando Bloom’s Legolas is a central part of this movie and it’s a shame that he’s given so much room. Bloom has never been a great actor and this is very evident here. In the last trilogy he was a cool character with limited screen time – here he spins around on wires firing CGI arrows – and that’s when the character is at his best. At his worst, he’s computer animated hopping around the screen firing CGI arrows. Thankfully, Luke Evans’ Bard grounds things in Lake-town. The Lake-town set is an impressive old fashioned studio creation and these sequences are the best looking and most atmospheric of the film.

Fans of the original Lord Of The Rings trilogy may be eager for more Bilbo Baggins, and they’ve managed to get that. Whether they are happy with it is another thing entirely.

Special Features

The extended blu-ray of The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug with some impressive behind the scenes documentaries covering all aspects of Peter Jackson‘s epic adaptation. It’s a comprehensive package covering the film’s shooting and how the finishing touches were added in post-production. This has all the bits and pieces from the original blu-ray and more…much more – almost ten hours of commentaries and production documentaries. scorching stuff. You’ll send days watching this.