We’ve already seen “An Unexpected Journey”. The second movie in this trilogy opens with a bit of nostalgia from “Lord of the Rings”, at the inn of the Prancing Pony. We jump back in time to a conversation between Gandalf and Thorin, (who was the apex of the previous movie). It feels like a preview, something that this entire saga of Tolkien inspired films do well. Bringing an intensity and passion to the story from the start; an enticement that is a combination of the wondrously epic score and the brilliant camera angles and landscapes.
Good vs Evil:
Azog, the great white Orc immediately establishes his presence as the villain of the first movie and transitions out of the story for the second. Now allowing another antagonist to step into the story in his place: Sauron.
Azog is summoned by Sauron, the spirit of darkness, the Dark Lord. Darkness summons darkness, and the darkness is spirit, but manifests itself in the form of a rushing wind. This is a call-back to my review of the first film where I said that evil often takes on a form of good. This, the ultimate evil of the Dark Lord, manifests itself in the form of a rushing wind, a symbol of the Word of God.
The One Ring is still in play at this point and is an ever-present enticement to Bilbo Baggins. Remember that the ring represents temptation, the enticement to sin, and it never leaves Bilbo. Speaking of enticements to sin and stray from the way…
Mirkwood: stay on the path, for there shall be many things that seek to lead you astray. If you leave the path you may never find it again. The path through the darkness of this world is treacherous, filled with voices that tell us to leave the winding path and we lose our way.
The Power of Sin:
Even when Bilbo loses the ring, it draws him back. The lust for it possess him, momentarily turning him into a monster of a man. Meanwhile, the dwarves are pinned down by spiders. After being freed from the snaring webs they become ensnared by a fear of being again caught in the webs of death…
And, cue the elves. The reigning forces of goodness. Elves do not care for the affairs of men and try not to meddle in them, with the exception of Legolas. These are our good beings whereas the orcs, spiders, and goblins are our evil ones.
After the first movie, Thorin has a change of heart about Bilbo, and in this movie we see him placing his life and the lives of his companions solely in Bilbo’s hands. Sometimes it takes the weakest to show the strong what true power is.
In addition to this new relationship… Which ends up being short-lived as Thorin lapses into momentary insanity towards the end, there is a heart in this film that is lacking in the first; or I should say a depth of heart not achieved in the first film.
There is a connection between dwarf and elf that has not been seen since Gimli and Legolas, (who are technically in the future, but that movie was made first and is our reference point). A connection that is unlike any other in Middle Earth. A friendship that is close because even in their differences they find they are the same. If Christians could understand that no matter how different we are, we are all the same in Christ: we share a common love and relationship, then we would change the world.
What is the worldview of this movie?
- Evil is never remembered for who possessed it, but for the level of evil that was manifest in that person. While exploring an ancient tomb, Radagast the Brown asks Gandalf the Grey who is buried at the there. Gandalf’s answer is profound: “If he had a name, it has long since been lost. He would’ve been known only a servant of evil.”
- Light dispels and prevents the darkness from overpowering it. But a single light by itself is not sufficient to dispel all the forces of darkness. Only the source of all light can truly dispel darkness. Your light can dispel the darkness around wherever it moves, but cannot dispel the darkness beyond that. Our light has limits, but God’s light, the light of Christ has no limits, and no darkness can overcome it.
- This story is about people relying on their own strength to protect and save them. But our strength on its own is not enough.
Ridiculous factor: the one thing that made this movie unbelievable, the one superbly ridiculous thing in the entire film was Legolas. He was kind of impossible throughout the film. It was rather amusing to see what impossibility he would accomplish next.
The second movie ends in a major cliff-hanger, which I love in any movie, especially if there is no sequel to follow it. But, “The Desolation of Smaug”, was infinitely better than the first movie. We get grips with Thorin’s motives earlier and clearer in this second film, this portion of the journey is at large more interesting to watch, and I was entertained by this film.
As a standalone, it set up our good and evil sides, pronouncing the dwarves as a middle ground: those influenced by good and evil but are not inherently one or the other.
The movie failed to let good win over evil. Gandalf, our ultimate good force, is defeated and caged by Sauron, the ultimate evil. Both Azog and his new 2nd in command Blog go undefeated in spite of them being lesser beings than the good elves.
The closure to the worldview that is necessary for a standalone movie isn’t present in this film. As a film, it is flawed and worthless entertainment. Its messages are inspirational and motivational, but motivational to what? To go out and fight a dragon even though you’re small?
No matter how small you are or how large the dragon is, if you’re fighting with the wrong motive, a victory is nothing more than a successful loss. You’ve accomplished nothing by slaying the dragon, (who technically isn’t slain yet, but if you read the books you know it’s coming).
If this was a standalone movie, the story is complete, but the worldview is not. For this reason, as a movie, it’s terrible. However, as a piece in a puzzle and part of a story-line, it was very well done. In order to finish my analysis of the worldview, I will have to watch the third movie; which I’m planning on doing, so be watching for it.
As always, thanks for reading.
–the anonymous novelist