Sunday, December 15, 2013

The Desolation of Smaug Review

The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug – Fun or Dysfunctional?

               The Hobbit as a fun, silly novel that is filled with adventure and light-hearted tomfoolery. While the novel does not easily connect well with The Lord of the Rings, it is hard now to talk about The Hobbit and the LotR Trilogy without connection to the other.
For those who saw the first in The Hobbit’s released film series, An Unexpected Journey, much criticism was made for the long slog it took for the film to find it’s feet, the pacing, and basically the fact that it was the opening act of a bigger story. Closing the film at the approach of Mirkwood was, really, the worst thing to do to an audience as no real battle or moment had the best build-up. Even Gollum’s Riddles in the Dark sequence felt rushed so we could get Bilbo back to the Dwarves at a decent pace. The Hobbit’s second installment, The Desolation of Smaug, fixes many, many problems the first movie had, yet it still retains issues that will be unique to the story being told in the middle act.
For en English Major, perhaps nothing is more painful (or, exhilarating!) than to see a book you love make it to the big screen. Myself, I have always loved

Note – I have *quite* a lot to say regarding the changes and adaptations of events from The Hobbit to the film series. Way too much to post here. In my next blog entry I will link to a greater article/piece that details those concerns (and they are numerous) so, keep a sharp eye out.

Desolation is an improvement over Journey in almost every way. The action feels bigger and more The Hobbit and not ‘The Hobbit And The Dwarves,’ but when asking somebody to watch a film with so many characters, eventually people will wonder about those darn dwarves and why they are not talking.
important, the plot has more places to go, many more characters find they have things to do and say where-as in Journey they were (mainly the Dwarves) were window-set-dressing with beards. While many will lament elements of some of these character’s journeys, it makes the Dwarvish Company feel more like a group of characters as opposed to just Bilbo. True, the name of the film is

The plot connection to weave together The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings works mainly from the extended epilogue content Tolkien himself created to bridge his works together. Gandalf and his encounter with Sauron is played about as seriously as you’d expect and it allows those watchers who ARE curious about the Hobbit/LotR connections to connect the dots themselves. This is a small price to be paid for having made The Hobbit after the LotR film series, and it still enjoyable none-the-less.

The biggest payoff in the film is Smaug. What was a rather static dragon in the books, a character who only talks with Bilbo, becomes a genuine force of malevolence and earns the title “chief calamity of the age” indeed. While the moments with Smaug create possibly the greatest deviation from the novel, it is a change worth having. Smaug (voiced deliciously by Benedict Cumberbatch from BBC’s Sherlock) is terrifying, cruel, and dangerous.


All in all, the biggest flaw of the film is (ironically) the characters that are also its strength. Many moments are given to characters who (arguably) do not need the precious screen time. Kili’s flirtations with the elf Tauriel, while well meaning, slow the film down to a crawl. In a film with almost a 3 hour run time, 30+ minutes of content could have been saved off easily. Still, Jackson’s additions do his creativity credit and the characters do not hurt the film. The need to give so much time to all the characters damages the film, but this will either only annoy those will already dislike the film or add more content to those who like the film.

All in all, The Desolation of Smaug is an 8 out of 10 film and worth seeing! 

1 comment:

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