M.poulet and I reluctantly went to see the second Hobbit instalment. Reluctantly, because we were both very disappointed with the first one (too much liberty taken with respect to Tolkein, crappy music, mediocre acting and what are orcs doing in this story?). Well, this second of three was marginally better, mostly owing to the incredible SpFX job that was done for Smaug. Once again, there was LOTS of liberty taken with the original text (orcs? again??) and some sappy love story (Kili and and elf maiden, really? argh). The acting was plastic for the most part (I found Thorin to be particularly poor in this one) and the pace was a bit boring. I did like Beorn (one of my favorite characters in the book as well), but was disappointed with how they dealt with the giant spiders (although the CG was well done here as well). I would have liked them to keep more with the plot because I thought that the orc attack on the elves was a little ridiculous (albeit the fight scene was kind of cool) with the barrels bobbing up and down. It was a bit ridiculous that (1) the two elves had more or less infinite amounts of arrows in their quiver (magic spell??) and that (2) of all the arrows flying around, only one hit a “good guy” (Kili), zero hit the two elves, but about 30-40 orcs were hit. I guess it is Hollywood so one must make amends.
As for Gandalf, I remember him taking off on some errand just as the company entered the Mirkwood so I suppose I should appreciate Jackson’s efforts to show us what he was up to. However, the silly appearance of Sauron with the woo-woo effect did not help the plot along. I guess we have to wait another year to see how Gandalf gets out of the cage, and I also realised that I probably need to watch the LotR movies again to see how he was cast there. Overall, I found the whole Gandalf part of the movie rather weak.
I thought the movie would end before they make their way into Erebor, and perhaps they should have because (1) what were the dwarves thinking when they were hacking at the doors with axes? hello? and (2) the scene with the key and the keyhole was ridiculous – the dwarves all stomp off like kids denied Pokemon cards and suddenly when Bilbo finds the keyhole they are all there just like magic. Sometimes, it just gets over the top with these condescending plot lines. As m.poulet said, the film lacks any subtlety or nuance at all.
Similarly, the whole Laketown invention (again NOT in the book) was ridiculous and predictable. I mean how many stereotypical characters can they throw in these scenes and can they not have a character that is just kind of good or just kind of bad, must they all be entirely white or black? I recall that the original book was a bit more nuanced.
This brings us to the real star of the movie, good old Smaug himself. He was totally badass (although a bit weak in his sense of smell) and I loved the debate with Bilbo (although it did drag on a bit long). I thought the whole hide and seek bit was also too long but it was such a pleasure looking at Smaug and seeing him breath all that fire. It was almost as if we could feel the heat in the theatre although (more nitpicking perhaps), you would have thought at least one of the dwarves would have been singed at some point.
I hope I wasn’t too much of a downer because probably many of you will go see it just for pure entertainment value. If you don’t look to closely, you can enjoy it. Just don’t re-read The Hobbit until way after the last film otherwise you will probably be a bit disappointed like we were.
- The Hobbit: The Desolation Of Smaug: Review (iainagraham86.wordpress.com)
- Movie Review: The Hobbit: Desolation of Smaug (therealtimegerbil.wordpress.com)
- ‘The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug’ – Review (atolkienistperspective.wordpress.com)
- The Hobbit: the Desolation of Smaug Literature and Film Review (queenslogic.com)