'The Desolation of Smaug' improves on the first 'Hobbit' film

Akron Beacon JournalApril 10, 2014 

  • New Releases

    These DVDs were released this week.

    Films: Grudge Match; August: Osage County; Nurse; Black Coffee; Holy Ghost People; Cavemen; Four Seasons; Everyday; The Bamboo Saucer (1968, sci-fi cult favorite starring Dan Duryea is one of four new releases this week from Chicago-based Olive Films, which specializes in restoring classics); Cry Danger (1951, film noir starring Dick Powell, Olive Films); Bang! Bang! You're Dead! (1966, spy comedy starring Tony Randall, Olive Films); Young At Heart (1954, musical starring Doris Day and Frank Sinatra, Olive Films), Best Night Ever; Don't Ask Me Questions; The Unsung Life of Graham Parker and the Rumour; Bayou Blue (2011, documentary on a Louisiana serial killer); Black Jack: 35th Anniversary Edition (1979, Cohen Film Collection); Snake and Mongoose; Cocaine Cowboys Reloaded (documentary); The Dog Who Saved Easter; I Am Divine (documentary); Bastards (France-Germany); A Field in England; The 400 Blows (1959, Francois Truffaut debut classic, The Criterion Collection); Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones; Justin Bieber's Believe; Lizzie Borden Took an Ax (Lifetime original movie) and Guardian of the Highlands (also known as Sir Billi, Sean Connery's first animated voice-over role.

    Television Series: Mayberry R.F.D.: First Season (1968-69); Power Rangers Megaforce: The Great Dragon Spirit (Nickelodeon); Holliston: Second Season; Ben 10 Omniverse: Duel of the Duplicates (Cartoon Network); Winged Planet (BBC); Earthflight (BBC); X and The Bear Family and Me and Extreme Bears (series from BBC Earth).

    The Washington Post

Peter Jackson made a smart change of hobbit.

As he adapted J.R.R. Tolkien's The Hobbit for a trilogy of films, Jackson badly miscalculated with the first movie, a slow and ponderous affair that dragged out the story. But he recovered well with the entertaining The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug.

As is generally expected of Jackson's work, it's a huge film. The dragon Smaug is an enormous creature in a room that seems to go on for miles, surrounded not merely by gold but by mountainous, shifting heaps of it. But the first Hobbit movie also looked big, yet diminished by its storytelling.

The Desolation of Smaug is a grand adventure and a character piece, taking us deeper into the mind and heart of the hobbit Bilbo Baggins (Martin Freeman). It blends characters from the previous films with new ones, notably Tauriel, a high-powered elf played by Evangeline Lilly. Purists have argued that Tauriel is not in Tolkien, but she makes an excellent addition to the screen version.

Extras include a set visit hosted by Jackson and behind-the-scenes videos of production. And, if the packages already mentioned do not meet your needs, Warner also has an elaborate gift set with the DVD, Blu-ray, 3-D Blu-ray and a set of bookends for $105.45. Other packages include the DVD ($28.98), Blu-ray-DVD-digital combo ($35.99) and that package adding the 3-D Blu-ray ($44.95).

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