Book v Film: The Hobbit – The Desolation of Smaug

“I will not die like this, clawing for life… If this is to end in fire, then we will all burn together!”

Book:
Film:
Adaptation:

The second instalment in Peter Jackson‘s trilogy of adaptations of J. R. R. Tolkien‘s classic fantasy novel, The Hobbit, The Desolation of Smaug continues the adventure of Bilbo Baggins (Martin Freeman) after escaping the Misty Mountains, accompanied by the Wizard Gandalf (Ian McKellan) and thirteen Dwarves, led by Thorin Oakenshield (Richard Armitage) to The Lonely Mountain. As their epic quest to reclaim the lost Dwarf Kingdom of Erebor comes to an end, Bilbo and the dwarves must finally face the enormous and powerful dragon, Smaug (voiced by Benedict Cumberbatch), and find the treasured Arkenstone.

The following post is a review of the film adaptation in comparison to the book. You can read my review of the book on its own here.

Film Review:

Although this second instalment isn’t quite the same adventure as the first, there are still a lot of fun moments, much more of the brilliantly crafted Middle Earth to see, and, let’s not forget, a terrifying dragon.

Benedict Cumberbatch voices Smaug perfectly, and although the film at one point feels like one long conversation between him and Bilbo, he’s created a lot of excitement for this lengthy middle chapter.

With plenty more chase scenes and Middle Earth characters to meet, The Desolation of Smaug is filled with lots of great action and some equally hilarious situations that the dwarves and Bilbo find themselves in the middle of.

There’s also a number of great additions to the cast, including Luke Evans as Bard, Stephen Fry as the Master of Lake Town, Evangeline Lilly as Tauriel, and Mikael Persbrandt as Beorn. Orlando Bloom makes an appearance as Legolas, too.

Differences From The Book:

With many changes throughout the three instalments, here’s a look at the major changes from the book to the film in this middle chapter:

  • In the book, the dwarves are taken to Beorn’s house by Gandalf and introduced to Beorn. In the film, they are chased to Beorn’s house by Beorn himself.
  • There is an enchanted lake in the book that has snooze effects on anyone that touches it. Beorn warns them not to drink from it, but Bombur falls in. This is not in the film.
  • The dwarves disturb the elves’ party, in the book, in search for food. In the film, the dwarves are captured by the elves who were hunting for spiders.
  • In the book, Thorin is captured separately and is kept captive in his own room, far away. The Elf King doesn’t try to make a deal with him in the book, either.
  • When Bilbo hides the dwarves in the barrels, in the book, the barrels remain sealed. In the film, the barrels are open, but this made for a really fun scene.
  • There is no orc attack at this point in the book, nor do the elves pursue them (since they do not realise that the dwarves are inside the barrels).
  • Legolas is not in the book, as we don’t meet him until LOTR. Tauriel doesn’t exist, either, and was only created for the films so there is, therefore, no romance between her and Kili.
  • In the book, the dwarves remain undiscovered in the barrels are steered into Lake Town. On their arrival, the dwarves publicly announce themselves to the city Master and crowd. In the film, Bard helps them to hide.
  • In the book, Bard doesn’t enter the story until after Smaug leaves the mountain. He also only has one son who we do not get to meet but, in the film, we meet him and his three children early on.
  • Azog died 150 years ago in the book, so he is not at Dol Guldur, and the confrontation between Sauron and Gandalf does not occur, either.
  • When the dwarves head to find Smaug, no one is left behind in the book. In the film, Fili, Kili and Bofur remain in Lake Town.
  • It is the setting sun that reveals the keyhole in the book, but it is the light of the moon in the film.
  • Bilbo visits Smaug twice in the book, but only once in the film.
  • In the book, Bilbo doesn’t find the Arkenstone until after the dragon is killed. The Arkenstone is also supposed to be so big that Bilbo cannot hold it in one hand, and it is described as a globe. In the film, the Arkenstone looks like a flat river stone and he can easily hold it, and Bilbo finds it on his only visit.
  • In the book, the dwarves do not see the dragon and by the time they head downstairs, Smaug is gone. Smaug is, therefore, not covered in molten gold in the book, as he is by the dwarves in the film.

Overall Verdict:

The Desolation of Smaug is just as good as the first instalment and ends on a cliffhanger that will ensure you’ll be returning for the final chapter.

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