The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug – Film Review
The Hobbit series. Otherwise knows as Lord of The Rings Lite.
But I’ve already done all my LOTR comparison bitching, so I’ll give that a bit of a break.
Appreciate my generosity.
TL;DR Yes, it’s pretty. Yes, it’s too long. Yes, it’s better than the first one. It is…satisfactory. 3 out of 5 stars.
3 stars means I liked it, but I don’t want people to know I liked it.
The plot sees Thorin’s party on the final legs of their journey to Thorin’s treasure pit. They run into some elves for a bit, but end up giving them, and a legion of orcs, the slip and arriving. Bilbo goes in alone to find the Arkenstone, but Smaug turns out to be a suave-ass bitch, and he needs help. The dwarves band together (and Thorin struggles to overcome a sudden greed) to defeat Smaug, but are unsuccessful. Cue waiting for the next movie. Subplots include Kate from Lost as a lovesick elf who wants some dwarf sex; Legolas; Gandalf finding out the Necromancer is totes Sauron; Kili getting arbitrarily poisoned; and Luke Evans.
On a whole, this is much more promising than An Unexpected Journey. There weren’t any scenes or sequences that felt like padding for padding’s sake (maybe the spiders).
That said, it’s still fatigue-inducingly too long. Once they’d reached the treasure pit, I was like “Oh yeah, this seems like a good place to cut for the next instalment.”
Then it just kept going. And going. And going. And CGI monstrosity realising. And going.
So there were no padding scenes or sequences. Just scenes and sequences that were padded. Would you consider that a fair trade-off?
Why I hate this movie:
It is simply too long. 2 and a half hours is too long. It just is.
A lot of that time seems to be bloated by overlong action sequences. The river barreling adventure comes to mind. Yes, it looked nice. But it just. Took. Forever.
The LOTR pandering is back, baby. Orlando Bloom reminds us that 10 years of aging aren’t invisible and takes up a totally unnecessary role as Tauriel’s (Kate from Lost/Evangeline Lilly) second love interest. Yes, a second love interest for a secondary character.
And then there’s the Sauron bomb. Now, I haven’t read The Hobbit, but a quick Googling and some unsubstantiated forum slap fights assure me that he wasn’t explicitly in it. But he’s in this movie. I may be a proponent of adaptations not being slavishly faithful to their original works, but I can only see Sauron’s inclusion (and prominence) as a grab at relevance to Peter Jackson’s other trilogy.
Speaking of Tauriel, she gets saddled with the requisite female character plot line of falling in love. And in spectacularly shallow fashion. She meets an okay looking dwarf, like, once. In a dungeon. Then she abandons her home and her betrothed to go off and follow him. Hmm.
Bilbo uses the Ring, like, all the time. Like, a lot. Without any side effects. Frodo got a pretty raw deal, then, huh?
Azog appears to have added “teleportation” to his repertoire. He turns up pretty much wherever he’s needed anywhere in the world to appear menacing.
Smaug is pretty rubbish at killing Bilbo. Come on, man.
Oh, and the absolute worst sin The Desolation of Smaug commits, and one that is truly unforgivable, occurs during the sequence (which is also too long) where the dwarves are smelting the gold to attack Smaug. Thorin needs to quickly travel around the mine. Luckily for him, there are little rivers of molten gold strewn about. So why not just boogie board on them with a metal shield? We even see his fingertips just millimetres away from the melted metal. I don’t enjoy saying this to a Hobbit movie, but fuck off.
But it’s not all bad:
Like I said for An Unexpected Journey, any Peter Jackson Tolkien epic is still better than no Peter Jackson Tolkien epic.
And yes, I get excited at LOTR continuity nods. That’s what they’re for.
The action is as sublime as ever. I’m thankful I didn’t see this in HFR or 3D, though. My brain isn’t quick enough to keep up with that.
The entire time spent inside the treasure pit is absolutely gorgeous. And things only get better when the dwarves have to wake up the old ovens to take down the dragon.
Smaug himself turns out to be a fabulous bitch. I didn’t realise he’d be so talkative, but I’m glad he was. Benedict Cumberbatch may not be a lot of fun to look at, but his voice has the beauty his face never could.
The moment in the movie that made me the most happy was when a bunch of the dwarves got ditched at that lake town to take care of the ailing Kili. Thank. Fuck. There are still about 20 too many, but you’ve gotta start somewhere.
Luke Evans plays Budget Aragorn, a man who is the disgraced descendant of a ruler. He has access to the last special arrow capable of killing Smaug. So he better get his butt on that next movie, as Smaug concludes this one by flicking off the dwarves’ attack and preparing to launch an assault on Luke’s lake town.
The dwarves’ attack on Smaug is to smother him in molten gold. Smaug, the sublime queen he is, flies away and shakes that shit off. Click click, gurl.
Lee Pace gets some more screen time as Tauriel and Legolas’ elf king/Smaug’s competition for Top Bitch. I want his hair.
I have decided not to whinge about the CGI as much this time.
Oh, and Gandalf gets to go toe-to-giant-orb-of-magic with Sauron. Funny that he never mentioned that to anyone in LOTR.
It’s an improvement on An Unexpected Journey, if only slightly. It’s still wildly overblown, but I’ve come to accept it. Bring on There and Back Again. 3 out of 5 stars.