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The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug

Shalane Sambor
Office Assistant, Hawaiian Telcom

What is your official title/occupation? I am an office assistant at Hawaiian Telcom and I am one of the founders of Hawaii Tolkien Society, aka Tol Andune (Isle of the West).


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Shalane Sambor

Where and with whom did you see the movie? I saw the movie at Consolidated Ward Theatre.

Overall, what did you think? This film is a great sequel to the first movie, and it ends with a cliffhanger that leaves you craving the next one. It’s much more action-packed than the first film, filled with exciting encounters (seriously creepy spiders, shape-shifters and not-so-nice elves), thrilling chases and fight sequences and breathtaking expansive vistas (New Zealand, here I come). Fortunately, these do not overshadow the character-driven story of the dwarves’ quest to reclaim their homeland but enhance the tale, and we never lose sight of the big picture. There are three separate but interwoven threads being told here simultaneously: Gandalf and his challenge to the Necromancer; Thorin, Bilbo and the dwarves’ arrival at the Lonely Mountain culminating in their confrontation with Smaug the dragon; and the injured Kili remaining in Laketown with the new character Bard the Bowman. This is grand storytelling, even though it doesn’t exactly follow the book it is based on, and it is crafted in such a visually glorious and exuberant way that the two hours and 40 minutes show time seems to fly by all too quickly.

Without giving away the ending, what was one of your favorite scenes? The barrel-riding sequence was phenomenal – one of the best, most-exciting and fun parts of the movie. The other one was the first reveal we get of Smaug in all his magnificence. He is spectacularly rendered by Weta, and voiced and motion-captured by the superb actor Benedict Cumberbatch.

On a scale of one to four stars, what would you rate this film? ★★★★

What did you think of the cinematography? Wonderful, especially the shots of the breathtaking landscapes of New Zealand – the mountains and the fields. The color palettes for the scenes of Mirkwood and the elven kingdom of Thranduil were terrific – dark and dreary for the spiders and soft and glowing for the elves.

Was the message/theme clear? Like all great tales, there isn’t just one message or theme, and this is the middle story of a trilogy of films, so things are not resolved or fully developed yet. Of particular interest in this movie are the familial relationships being shown: Azog and his son Bolg, Thranduil and his son Legolas, Bard and his children, and Thorin and his nephews Fili and Kili. There is evident in the various characters pride, greed, envy, prejudice and hate. But there also are tenderness, loyalty, sacrifice, honor and love.

Did any of the actors stand out? Ian McKellen as Gandalf is always superb, of course. Martin Freeman as the reluctant burglar Bilbo Baggins is absolutely dead-on; I couldn’t imagine anyone else in the role! Richard Armitage as Thorin Oakenshield is tremendous; he gives us a Thorin who is multi-layered and complex instead of a cookie-cutter good or bad guy. Lee Pace is fabulous as the elf king Thranduil; arrogant, aloof, intolerant and insular. Oh, and look for Peter Jackson’s cameo: the man at the left of the screen eating the carrot in the beginning of the Bree sequence!

Did the soundtrack contribute significantly to the film? A soundtrack can make or break a film, and Howard Shore is an outstanding composer. The closing song, I See Fire, composed and sung by Ed Sheeran, is beautiful.

What’s your favorite movie snack? Plain popcorn and a big Icee.

On a different note, what’s new with you? Our Tolkien group, Tol Andune, has several meetings a year, and we are losing our venue for our annual discussion, formerly at Barnes & Noble Kahala, so we are searching for another suitable location. Also we are preparing for the final film in this series – The Hobbit: There and Back Again, to be released in December 2014 – with a party of special magnificence. Anyone interested in becoming a member of Tol Andune may contact me at ssambor@msn.com