The first Lord Of The Rings trilogy connected with a massive audience. Peter Jackson and the cast proved that fantasy, if done correctly, can be profitable and widely accepted. We were taken back to middle earth last year when Peter brought The Hobbit to the big screen to mixed reviews. The book is a single novel, but the movies have been split into another trilogy. There are plenty of people who disliked the first one, but I don't count myself among them. While I will admit that it didn't quite recreate the magic of Lord Of The Rings, it was entertaining. It was also long. We are now set to embark on another journey to middle earth so we ask the question, is it worth the trip?
We pick up where the first leaves off. The Dwarfs are still attempting to reclaim their homeland and are being hunted by Azog (Manu Bennet) and his Orc army. The must get to their mountain home so that a secret door into their kingdom can be revealed. In the midst of their running, Gandalf (Ian McKellen) senses that a greater evil is returning and leaves the company. Bilbo and the dwarfs continue to run from orcs, elves, giant spiders in their attempt to reach the underground kingdom. Ancient prophecies, a magic ring, and one danger after another makes it a difficult task. The company is also faced with a sleeping dragon that guards their stolen kingdom. If they can reclaim their home, what evil will be released to the world?
This time around we are treated to much more action. Skirmish after skirmish helps us meet a couple of new characters and get reintroduced to an old favorite. Legolas is back! Orlando Bloom has aged and gained a little weight and it does make a noticeable difference. We are meeting Legolas for the first time and to me he didn't look younger. He does command the screen and the same battle skill that we loved the first time around is back and fun to watch. Luke Evans debuts as Bard the Bowman. His heart is in the right place and I am interested to see his role expand in the third chapter. The skin changer, Beorn, makes a brief but memorable appearance too. We spend the most time with Bard, but when you have so much going on and so many characters, we don't always get enough time with some characters.
Tauriel is the new character that stands out the most. Evangeline Lily brings her to life. She is tough and definitely battle tested, but she does have a heart. Her conflict over her kings wishes, but her kindness to the dwarfs makes for a great story. She has come a long way from Lost and watching her fight along side of Legolas is beyond entertaining. The story this time around is much better. Jackson does a great job of keeping each of the characters involved and even though it's long, it doesn't drag.
What I love about all of these movies is the look. Peter Jackson does a fantastic job of bringing middle earth to life. The details are so perfect. Everyone looks the part and nothing comes across low budget. The grunge of Watertown, the epic scale of the mountain kingdom, and even the forest look flawless. We even take a trip back to the Prancing Pony and it looks the same as it did in The Fellowship of The Ring.
The movie is about Bilbo and Smaug. Their dialogue in the treasure room is a lot of fun. Benedict Cumberbcach is very well cast and the dragon looks amazing. Martin Freeman comes across more comfortable as Bilbo this time around. He event hints at little madness the more he secretly uses the one ring. Bilbo is still fumbling and awkward, but when mixed with Smaug's wit and arrogance, it really plays well. I still don't feel like the Hobbit films recaptures the heart of the originals, but it is worth a return trip to middle earth. I did find myself missing Golum, but I'm sure he'll be back for the next run.