I Saw A Film Today… The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug

The Hobbit The Desolation Of Smaug by Harlan ElamAnyone who frequents this site [insert low readership joke here] knows that this year I have had a habit of not finishing a few reviews. And I really don’t have an excuse for not finishing them, especially Out of the Furnace. I intend to finish it, but later than expected. But regardless, Furnace is a great film. Set in real Rust Belt town Braddock, PA, it’s a gritty revenge tale that isn’t your typical type of revenge flick. It’s raw and believable. So I do recommend checking it out if you have the time.

Desolation of Smaug picks up where Bilbo (Martin Freeman), Gandalf (Ian Mckellan), the Dwarf gang left off at the end of the last movie. With Azog the Orc and his pack on their tail and nowhere to go, the band of travelers travel through forest of spiders and elves, laketowns of lake people, and finally meet the end of their quest. But the quest isn’t going to go down without a fight, and Bilbo must be on his toes to live up to his thief title.

It is apparent to me after rewatching The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey and rereading my review of said film, I was overly kind in regards to it. Maybe I had sepia-tinted eyes when I saw it in theaters. But in truth Unexpected Journey is circuitous and dull. The first hour of the film drags itself through the mud before finding any type of traction. Even then it’s a lumbering stumble.

The Desolation of Smaug is a bit better than that, in that it’s not quite as boring and long-winded as its predecessor. The pace has found a more fluid pace, but still sags to a glacial speed at many moments. It is a bit of a chore to trudge through to the fourth quarter of this film, which is sadly where things get good. And just as abrupt as the fun begins, the credit seem to start rolling and Ed Sheeran begins screeching.

Again, I wonder why these films are in fact films, instead of a singular film. To take a book that is slimmer than any of the Lord of the Rings books, which all received single adaptations, and force feed it miniscule details from ROTK‘s appendices and decade-old nostalgia until it spews from its gills is saddening. Now seeing Peter Jackson as a greedy and crazed man trying to squeeze every last bit of cash out of Tolkien’s epic tale just leaves a sour taste in the mouths of most fans.

The cast is just about the same this time around as before, except for some new additions. Apparently it has been a little longer than I remember since I last read Tolkien’s classic novel that this film takes liberties from, because I don’t exactly remember Legolas (portrayed here again by Orlando Bloom) making an appearance in said book. Nor do I remember Sauron, just to name another. Further proof of Jackson’s misguided attempt to connect these films to his previous works.

But Evangeline Lilly’s Tauriel and Lee Pace’ Thranduil were in the books, and were enjoyable to an extent. The love triangle between Bloom, Lilly, and Aidan Turner’s Dwarf Kili is more enjoyable than most unnecessary love side-stories. Benedict Cumberbatch is the star of this film though. Morphing from just a murky figure in the first film, Cumberbatch’s voice is bone-chilling and commanding. The tango between him and Martin is almost worth a movie ticket. Almost. And that’s only if you’re seeing the matinée 2-D showing. Just as a side note, I did see this in 3-D and it’s not worth the ticket to see it that way.

Basically what you get with The Hobbit: DoS, and what I imagine will be the entire Hobbit film series, is a failure on many planes. What Jackson attempts to do is offer LOTR fan boys in need of a fix hardcore porn. What you get instead is a 1950’s beach party film except this time someone has a nip slip (when Bilbo meets Smaug). If you enjoyed the first film, well, this one will knock your socks off I guess.

Verdict: Rent it!

*Rated PG-13 for extended sequences of intense family action violence (whatever the hell “family action violence” is), and frightening images. 161 minutes. Directed by Peter Jackson (The Hobbit: An Unexpected journey and The Lord of the Rings trilogy).

** Poster by Harlan Elam.

*** Thanks to my friend Cody for seeing this with me.




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