Review by Pete Mason
“The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug” improves on the first film in the trilogy and leaves the audience hanging with a painful cliffhanger, just as the plot was getting somewhere good. Not that the plot isn’t well laid out, it is by far the meat of the book and the purpose behind the journey – help the King of the Dwarves, Thorin Oakenshield, reclaim the Kingdom Under the Mountain, currently occupied by the dragon Smaug (Ow, not Aw). The trip to the mountain re-introduces the Elvish Kingdom and introduces Laketown of the Tolkien Universe to the audience, and features plenty of reasons to fear the Orcs and their evil master who grows in power.
Having just survived an attack by the Orcs, the band of dwarves, along with Bilbo Baggins and Gandalf the Gray, make haste to the safety of Beorn’s property, where the hulking man who turns into a bear-like creature lives and keeps watch for orcs. A trip on the Old Forest Road leads the crew to an encounter with giant spiders, then the Elves, who come to their reluctant rescue. This is when we learn that Elves are territorial and hold grudges for hundreds of years and are generally dicks to outsiders. This is well before Legolas and Gimli fought together in “The Lord of the Rings” tales, although the cold and distant Legolas (Orlando Bloom) appears throughout the film, mostly to provide needed cavalry support for the dwarf party.