9 things we learnt at the Desolation of Smaug fan event
#9 – It’s distinctly darker than An Unexpected Journey
Where the first film was all sweetness and hijinks, The Desolation of Smaug seems to have scaled back on that in favour of suspense. It is a film that’s a lot more sure of itself in direction. Bilbo gets into a bit of bother with some spiders and it’s as creepy, gross and chilling as Frodo’s arachnid ordeal in Return of the King. Humour is still present, but because the tone is slightly darker the wit shines through all the more.
#8 – The Desolation of Smaug is FUNNIER than An Unexpected Journey
We all know Martin Freeman excels at comedy, and he is put to good use in his first encounter with a sleeping Smaug. Someone shushing a landslide of gold coins shouldn’t be funny but everyone was laughing their heads off. We were probably a bit high on free popcorn and T-shirts.
#7 – Lee Pace is fantastic as Thranduil
Not only does he look the part, tall and porcelain-skinned, but he has the accent down pat, which helps. Lee has succeeded in creating a character that is distant yet likeable, who holds as much disdain for the dwarves as they do for him and his ilk. In a production video we were shown, Pace explains that Thranduil is only interested in what he can get from you – ‘like most kings’ he added. This should create an interesting dynamic between him and the other characters he interacts with.
#6 – These are not the elves from Lord of the Rings
Where Galadriel and Haldir were serene, the elves in The Desolation of Smaug are aggressive and unrefined. Lily revealed on the night that she took inspiration from ‘badass fairy’ Tinkerbell from Peter Pan, but her Tauriel is far feistier. She lunges at a captive orc with no mercy, but not before he ominously tells her ‘Your world will burn’. Oo-er.
#5 – Bilbo is more of a boss this time
Understandably, Baggins was a bit timid in An Unexpected Journey, and spent a lot of his time gazing at things in awe or grumbling about how he wasn’t at home. In this film he’s a bit harder and less afraid of getting his sword dirty. After using the Ring to hide himself while he fillets attacking spiders, he removes it at the last minute before stabbing one full in the face with what is almost a smirk. And you smirk, too. The old Bilbo would never have done that.
#4 – Everything looks really pretty
Even the scene with the spiders was delightfully gloomy. There is a sense of hyper-reality – everything is more brightly coloured, vaster and higher. Smaug’s lair is blinding with literal fields of gold. When it shifts you get a sense of the enormity of the dragon, Bilbo coming up only as high as his nostril. A scene featuring a barrel-aided escape works well because of the olde worlde charm of the cellar and the scale of the room compared to Bilbo and company, which gives way to a sheer drop into ferocious waters.
#3 – The One Ring has a new, previously unexplored power
Not that we’re going to tell you what that is, of course. What we will say is this: it’s seriously cool.
#2 – The set pieces are magnificent
Like the aforementioned spider fight, the action is well-paced and doesn’t let up when it gets going. Think of the scene in the Goblin King’s lair from An Unexpected Journey – remember how it flowed and the action was thrilling and easy to follow? Basically that, but more often.
#1 – Buy The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey on DVD
This isn’t new information per se, but we were treated to a scene from the extended cut of the first film featuring a song sung by James Nesbitt’s Bofur. Lawks, it’s lovely – and best of all, it’s available in the Best For Film Shop.