Hobbit: Desolation of Smaug Theatrical Review 4.5/5 stars
I’m a little out of practice, so bear with me. Last year, I went and saw The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey in theatres. I had watched all the previous Peter Jackson Lord of the Rings films in theatres so it seems appropriate to catch The Hobbit films on the big screen as well. An Unexpected Journey holds the distinction of being the first movie I went to the theatre alone to view. I also watched the Desolation of Smaug alone tonight. This probably works out for the better because no one has to put up with me if I go alone. I like to sit all the way through the credits to catch any teasers or treats the filmmakers may decide to reward the loyal watcher with, and I realize that not everyone likes to sit through all that. In case you’re wondering, there was nothing after the credits for Desolation of Smaug. I was a little surprised to see how many people actually went to see the film tonight, with it being a Wednesday and with the film having been out for five weeks already. While I did get to sit in what I thought was an “ideal” seat, I became a little disappointed that I had to share the row with a couple. Fortunately they did sit a few seats away, but still they were a distraction. My disappointment stemmed not out of my anti-sociability this time, but because the guy had his phone out for more than half the film texting or reading or doing whatever he was doing and the glow from his screen was really starting to bother me. Plus he had to go to the bathroom. Twice. Which meant walking past me. Four times. Normally not a problem, but he also had a remarkable case of BO. Ah well, c’est la vie, let’s just talk about the movie shall we?
One would think the film would pick up right where the last one finished, but instead we had a flashback to a meeting between Thorin and Gandalf a year before their quest to the Lonely Mountain. I actually really enjoyed this scene, but it ended a little abruptly by bringing us back to the “present day” story. I wanted to see Gandalf in a bar fight. It probably would have been a lot like Ben Kenobi in that cantina scuffle… Ah well, the story progressed quite well, and quite quickly but with a lot more differences between the book and the film than the previous entry had. I did enjoy the divergences for the most part, but there were a few times that I wished they had stayed more faithful to the original story. After hearing some people’s complaints about the differences, I think mine are actually quite minor.
I wanted to see more of Beorn, and wished they had stuck with the introduction used in the book. The way they introduced the company to Beorn (the skin-changer) in the film was a lot more action packed than the book. In the book it was quite a light-hearted, almost comic relief piece that I think could have still worked in the movie, and they could have kept most of the action they used. In fact, I think it would have balanced it out nicely. Beorn didn’t really look the way I had pictured him, but that’s a minor thing. When Beorn was a bear, it really did look good and I can’t wait to see him in the final film at the Battle of Five Armies. At least I certainly hope we get to see him again. (I cheated, IMDb says Mikael Persbrandt is in There and Back Again).
I also really enjoyed the Tauriel character played by Evangeline Lily. This is a new character created by Peter Jackson’s team for the movie. Her inclusion served several purposes, it gave a strong female character for one (as the book really didn’t have any female characters that I can remember; though it has been a long while since I’ve read it); and she also helped with Legolas’ involvement in the story which reaffirmed the link between the films of Peter Jackson’s Tolkien universe. Aside from the extra bits written into the film that were not present in the original works, there were several other points of divergence but for the most part they worked well and will in all likelihood sort themselves out in the third and final film. I should mention that I am really enjoying the development that they are giving to the other members of the company (such as Kili played by Aidan Turner) that they really couldn’t do if they had stuck completely to the book or if they hadn’t split the characters up for a time.
I was forced to see the film tonight in 3D but that really didn’t bother me this time. I was kind of let down by the 3D effects in An Unexpected Journey, not that they weren’t good, but I didn’t really see anywhere that it made a giant difference. This time the 3D seemed better for some reason. Bees flew off the screen (I actually caught myself wanting to swat at one early on), rocks flew, arrows soared. This film was visually amazing. Even more than any of the past Jackson/Tolkien films. Of course this time we not only had giant spiders, wargs, orcs, elves and dwarves but a dragon too. And what a dragon. Smaug was incredible. His motion; his look; his emotion; were all perfection. Benedict Cumberbatch (Sherlock) played this incredibly. While J.J. Abrams may have dropped the ball by keeping audiences in suspense by not telling them Cumberbatch was playing Khan in the latest Star Trek film, the suspense built by not showing Smaug in the first film paid off perfectly for Peter Jackson.
I guess the bottom line is that I really enjoyed The Hobbit: Desolation of Smaug, but just slightly less than I enjoyed the first film, and that these are definitely films that should be enjoyed on the big screen. Also, after seeing the commercials for the film, I was frustrated when I thought I had been mispronouncing Smaug for all these years. I think it was just a bad voice over job on the commercial. Though it may not be “smog” the pronunciation of Smaug in the film was (thankfully) a lot different than the pronunciation in the commercial that I found very annoying.
And for added good measure, I saw this the other day. I need to learn some origami…
Posted on 14-01-16, in 4.5 Star, Movie Reviews and tagged 4.5 star, Benedict Cumberbatch, Bilbo Baggins, Evangeline Lily, Hobbit, Hobbit: Desolation of Smaug, Ian McKellan, J.R.R. Tolkien, Legolas, Martin Freeman, movie, Orlando Bloom, Peter Jackson, review, Tauriel. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.