THE HOBBIT: THE DESOLATION OF SMAUG (EXTENDED EDITION)
Beorn To Be Wild
Beorn is a shapeshifter who can morph from a giant man to a deadly bear. Sadly, he’s wasted here as a dude who spouts exposition while other characters sit at a table. His entire character could have, and should have, been cut in order to move the story along.
Peter Jackson lets his horror roots shine in a sequence in Mirkwood featuring deadly spiders. Advances in CG over the years make these little beasties even more terrifying than the gargantuan Shelob the great from Return of the King. This is one of the better sequences in the film.
The original novel lacked any female character of note. Naturally, Peter Jackson invented Tauriel the Elf to round out the large cast of his Hobbit trilogy. While I believe he had good intentions, the soppy love triangle between Legolas, Kili, and Tauriel manages to grind an already protracted story to a halt. Evangeline Lily’s acting is not the problem here; the character just isn’t integrated very well, turning into a melodramatic weepy mess by the third film.
Tons of Thrain
The most important addition to the extended edition of the second film is the inclusion of Thorin’s father Thrain as part of Gandalf’s subplot. As Gandalf explores the ruins of Dol Goldur, Thrain appears to battle the wizard. There are some nice character moments between the two, foreshadowing events in the third flick.
The end of the flick is a ridiculous series of action set pieces featuring Smaug the dragon. Smaug looks terrific, and shows off fun voice acting thanks to Benedict Cumberbatch. Sadly, a battle of wits degenerates into a dwarf-versus-dragon gangbang of mythic proportions. Louder does not always mean better.
The Battle of the Five Armies is on page three!