The film was a massive commercial and critical success, grossing over $960 million, surpassing The Fellowship of the Ring, The Two Towers and The Battle of the Five Armies, and becoming the fourth highest-grossing film of 2013 and the 24th highest-grossing film of all time. The film also gained acclaim from fans and critics, with reviewers lauding the film's thrilling action sequences, music, faster pace, visuals and the performances of the cast (especially that of Cumberbatch), while some criticized it for the 161 minute running time and some "narrative problems".
At the 86th Academy Awards, the film received nominations for Best Visual Effects, Best Sound Editing and Best Sound Mixing and was also nominated for 9 Saturn Awards, including Best Supporting Actress (for Lilly), Best Director (for Jackson), Best Fantasy Film, Best Special Effects and Best Music (for Shore) and won one for Best Production Design. The film was also nominated for two Annie Awards and was nominated for 7 Empire Awards and won two for Best Male Newcomer (for Aidan Turner) and for Best Sci-Fi/Fantasy.
In an opening prologue, at the Inn of the Prancing Pony in Bree, Gandalf the Grey approaches Thorin Oakenshield and persuades him to kill the dragon, take back the Lonley Mountain and the Arkenstone to unite the Dwarves, and suggests that a stealthy burglar may be needed to steal the jewel back from Smaug.
One year later, Thorin and his company are being pursued by Azog and his Orc party down the Carrock following the events of the previous film. Bilbo Baggins informs the group that a gigantic bear is also tracking them, and are ushered along by Gandalf to the nearby home of Beorn to seek his assistance. Beorn is revealed to be a skin-changer who has the ability to take form of the giant bear. That night, Azog is summoned to Dol Guldur and instructs his son, Bolg, to take over the hunt for Thorin. The following day, Beorn escorts the company to the borders of Mirkwood, where Gandalf discovers Black Speech imprinted on an old ruin. This coincides with a telepathic message from Galadriel urging him to investigate the tombs of the Nazgûl, forcing him to depart. He warns the company to remain on the path and leaves. Upon entering the forest they lose their way and are ensnared by giant spiders. Bilbo then sets about freeing the dwarves with the help of the One Ring. He subsequently drops the Ring and first begins to understand its dark influence after he brutally kills a centipede-like creature to retrieve it. The remaining spiders are fended off by the Wood-elves led by Tauriel and Legolas. They in turn capture the Dwarves, and bring Thorin before Thranduil. He confronts the Elvenking about his neglect of the Dwarves of Erebor following Smaug's attack 60 years earlier, and is consequently imprisoned with the other Dwarves. Bilbo, having avoided capture, arranges an escape using empty wine barrels that are sent downstream. While being pursued by the Wood-elves, they are ambushed by Bolg and his Orc party, and Kíli is wounded with a Morgul shaft. They engage in a running three-way battle down the river, but ultimately the Dwarves are able to escape both groups of pursuers. Thranduil then seals off his kingdom when an Orc captive reveals an evil entity has returned and is amassing an army in the south, but Tauriel decides to leave and assist the Dwarves. Legolas goes after her. Meanwhile, Gandalf meets Radagast to investigate the tombs of the Nazgûl, which are found empty.
The company are then smuggled into Esgaroth by a bargeman from the town named Bard. Thorin promises the Master and the people of Laketown a share of the mountain's treasure. It is then revealed that Bard is a descendant of the last ruler of Dale, and possesses the last black arrow capable of killing Smaug. Kíli is forced to remain behind, tended to by Fíli, Óin, and Bofur, as the remaining company receive a grand farewell. Meanwhile, Gandalf travels south to the ruins of Dol Guldur, while Radagast leaves to warn Lady Galadriel of their discovery at the tombs. Gandalf finds the ruins infested with Orcs and is ambushed by Azog. Gandalf evetually finds the Necromancer, who overpowers and defeats him and reveals himself to be, as Gandalf assumed, the Dark Lord, Sauron, returned.
Thorin and his remaining company reach Lonely Mountain, where Bilbo discovers the hidden entrance. He is sent in to retrieve the Arkenstone, and while doing so accidentally awakens Smaug. While trying to find Bilbo, Smaug reveals his knowledge of Sauron's return. Back in Laketown, Bard attempts to bring the black arrow to the town's launcher, as he fears what may happen when the Dwarves enter the mountain. However, he is arrested in the process as the Master of Lake-town was led to believe by Alfrid that he is leading on "troublemakers" who desire a new ruler of Lake-town. Bard leaves his son to hide the arrow. Some time later, Bolg and his Orc pack then infiltrate the town and attack the four Dwarves, but are quickly dispatched following the arrival of Tauriel and Legolas. Tauriel then tends to Kili, and the two acknowledge their affection toward one another, while Legolas leaves in pursuit of Bolg. Meanwhile, an imprisoned Gandalf watches helplessly as Azog and an Orc army march from Dol Guldur towards the Lonely Mountain.
Back inside the mountain, Bilbo and the Dwarves try to rekindle the mountain's forge in an attempt to drown Smaug alive in molten gold. This fails however and Smaug stumbles out of the mountain and flies off to destroy Lake-town in revenge for aiding the Dwarves. Bilbo watches in horror at what they have unleashed, saying to himself, "What have we done?" as Smaug quotes "I am fire! I am...death!" as the film ends.
The film is named after the dragon Smaug and the wastes surrounding his home.
- Ian McKellen as Gandalf the Grey
- Martin Freeman as Bilbo Baggins
- Richard Armitage as Thorin II Oakenshield
- Ken Stott as Balin
- Graham McTavish as Dwalin
- William Kircher as Bifur
- James Nesbitt as Bofur
- Stephen Hunter as Bombur
- Dean O'Gorman as Fíli
- Aidan Turner as Kíli
- John Callen as Óin
- Peter Hambleton as Glóin
- Jed Brophy as Nori
- Mark Hadlow as Dori
- Adam Brown as Ori
- Orlando Bloom as Legolas
- Evangeline Lilly as Tauriel
- Lee Pace as Thranduil
- Cate Blanchett as Galadriel
- Benedict Cumberbatch as Smaug and Necromancer
- Mikael Persbrandt as Beorn
- Sylvester McCoy as Radagast
- Antony Sher as Thrain
- Luke Evans as Bard the Bowman
- Stephen Fry as Master of Laketown
- Ryan Gage as Alfrid
- John Bell as Bain
- Peggy Nesbitt as Sigrid
- Mary Nesbitt as Tilda
- Manu Bennett as Azog the Defiler
- Lawrence Makoare as Bolg
- Ben Mitchell as Narzug
- Stephen Ure as Fimbul
- Craig Hall as Galion
- Robin Kerr as Elros
- Eli Kent as Lethuin
- Simon London as Feren
- Luke Evans as Girion
- Ray Henwood as Net Mender
- Terry Notary as Goblin
- Allan Smith as Orc Underling
- Christian Hipolito as Lakeman
Most of filming has been finished during 2012, ending on July 2012, but during May 2013, additional shooting for the film and the sequel began in New Zealand, which is set to last 10 weeks.
The musical score for The Desolation of Smaug was composed by Howard Shore. It will be performed by the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra. The original motion picture soundtrack album is expected to release in late 2013, to coincide with the film's release.
Sir Peter Jackson has provided the first details about the second film in the series at a live event held on 24 March 2013. The access code was attached to the DVD editions of The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey. The live-broadcast event revealed some plot details; Jackson said that the role of Tauriel, acted by Evangeline Lilly, is a part of the elven guard and a bodyguard of the Elvenking, Thranduil. In addition, he revealed a scene from the film in which Gandalf and Radagast the Brown search for the Necromancer fortress and discover that the Ringwraiths have been released from their graves.
The film is set to be released worldwide on 13 December 2013. As part of an agreement between Warner Bros and New Line Cinema, the premiere of the film will not be held in Wellington, New Zealand, as it was for the previous film in the series.
The film received acclaim from a majority of critics and audiences. It has a rating of 74% "Certified Fresh" on Rotten Tomatoes, with the site's consensus states "While still slightly hamstrung by "middle chapter" narrative problems and its formidable length, The Desolation of Smaug represents a more confident, exciting second chapter for The Hobbit series." Metacritic gives the film a rating of 66 out of 100, indicating generally favourable reviews.