Let’s Talk About The Hobbit – The Desolation Of Smaug
I know I’m in the minority about this movie for a lot of reasons. Fist of all, I preferred An Unexpected Journey to the Desolation Of Smaug. Secondly, Desolation was somewhat of a let down for me. I was surprised by a number of reviews claiming the exact opposite of both my statements. I don’t love The Lord Of The Rings trilogy either. I like it well enough, but honestly I find it kind of boring. The Hobbit however is a book that I adore. It’s a lot of what makes The Lord Of The Rings unique and interesting condensed into a fun 300 or so page book.
I won’t get into plot details and all that stuff since you can find that all over the inter webs. Let’s just get right into it. The first part of the movie is flawless, we’re talking giant spiders and imprisonment by the Wood Elves and the crew’s subsequent escape. Now, some people might complain they shoehorned Legolas into this, but I could care less. It makes sense for the future tying of these movies into the LOTR trilogy. I’m not one of those people who need to strictly adhere to source material. I don’t mind straying for the good of the movie. My issue comes when they feel the need to pad and over extend. There’s the extra subplot with Gandalf and the Necromancer (sadly, not Mr. Harkness), this doesn’t bother me since it probably totals about 15 minutes or so. The problem comes with the introduction of Bard. Here we get 45 minutes devoted to someone who’s a quasi important but tertiary character that really forces the movies pacing to sag. (Side note: does anyone else find it weird that Orlando Bloom has to to dye his hair to play Legolas but they cast someone who looks like Orlando Bloom normally does to play Bard?)
This happens again shortly after with Smaug which I know some of you may find blasphemous. Let me say that Smaug looks pretty damn good and is voiced incredibly menacing by Benedict Cumberbatch. The issue lies in what happens after Bilbo confronts him. In what is a relatively short scene in the book concerning only Bilbo and the dragon is turned into another 45 minutes with the Dwarves and Bilbo battling Smaug. It goes on entirely too long. I don’t care for what you’d call “epic” battle scenes in movies (there’s a reason I wasn’t involved in our Top 5 Comic Book Fight Scenes article). I generally find them to be achingly boring and somewhat visually hard to follow, which doesn’t bode well for me in the third installment of the movie. It’s just grossly unnecessary for this particular flick. Is our society so warped that people would enjoy a Tolkien movie less if epic fight scenes were not included?
My last gripe is that this movie focuses entirely too much on the Dwarves, which besides Thorin and maybe one or two others they don’t particularly have distinguishable personalities. The movies most complex and interesting characters Bilbo and Gandalf lack a lot of screen time. In Gandalf’s case this makes sense, since he’s missing for the tail end of the book but Bilbo is almost inexcusable. It’s his story and almost his quest as much as it’s Thorin Oakenshield’s.
When it comes down to it, I’m glad there’s more movies set in Tolkien’s universe and who knows maybe once part 3 is released it will make me feel differently about The Desolation Of Smaug. Don’t get me wrong either, I liked this movie, I just thought I’d feel differently when it was over.
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