This time last year I was crowing about the first film in Jackson’s Hobbit Trilogy. I enjoyed it, but it took it’s time to get going and was harsh on my backside. Now some time has passed maybe it wasn’t a good as I thought at the time.
The second installment suffers from similar problems, though it’s last hour is much stronger and moved along very quickly. After we left I was informed by my wife that Legolas and Tauriel were not involved in the book. In fact, Tauriel is a character created by Jackson (look out for his cameo, though you can’t really miss it). For me she is a mighty addition, adding an ethereal beauty to proceedings, whilst not just being eye candy as her team up with Legolas provides much of the action. For those that have read the books I can see additions being annoying. But I go in with no previous knowledge so screw it.
Our team of dwarves and one Hobbit continue to be strong, with believable relationships and less odd moments where they look human height. A scene involving barrels and a rolling dwarf was particularly amusing and impressive.
The big selling point of it all though is the dragon Smaug, and he does not disappoint. Though technically marvellous it is Cumberbatch’s voice that is particularly impressive. He was misused in Star Trek Into Darkness but here he fits in perfectly.
My initial impression is that this is a more confident entry, as though the story is finding its feet.
Yet I still feel that this story didn’t need to be told over three films, and that Jackson is indulging too heavily. The return of many real people in Orc make-up makes me wonder why he presents Azog and Bolg as CGI creations. There is a tangibility to the real orcs that can’t be beaten. Just because you can doesn’t always mean you should.
So a mixed bag. But some great action and the additions of Lilly and Cumberbatch elevate this above the first film.