Movie Reivew: The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug

Details from IMDB:

 

Hobbit2

 

The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug (2013)

161 min  -  Adventure | Fantasy  -  13 December 2013 (USA)

Ratings: 8.6/10 from 49,148 users   Metascore: 66/100
Reviews: 213 user | 73 critic | 44 from Metacritic.com

The dwarves, along with Bilbo Baggins and Gandalf the Grey, continue their quest to reclaim Erebor, their homeland, from Smaug. Bilbo Baggins is in possession of a mysterious and magical ring.

Director:

Peter Jackson

Writers:

Fran Walsh (screenplay), Philippa Boyens (screenplay), 3 more credits »

Stars:

Ian McKellen, Martin Freeman, Richard Armitage | See full cast and crew »

Initial Thoughts:

I love “The Hobbit” (one of the few novels I have read twice and studied in university) and of course I saw part 1, so I braved the crowds (which for the non-IMAX show weren’t too bad) and saw this last night. So I’ll have to say right away that if you haven’t read the book you should stop reading now.

SPOILER ALERT!

Main Points:

First off I have to say Peter Jackson has done it again, he will forever be the master of Tolkien on the screen and shows his love of LOTR (and the prelude) with every movie he makes. Of course there’s really no perfect movie (at least certainly very few) and I do have some concerns.

Those concerns don’t apply to the acting, everyone puts in a great performance. The special effects are top notch and there is plenty of action. I also didn’t find the movie too long at all with a 161 minutes but the multiple changes from the source material bothered me.

I know what you’re thinking, a movie isn’t the same as a book but when you look forward to certain scenes, specific details I just couldn’t help feeling a  little disappointed.

The love triangle between Tauriel (an invented character that I liked) Kili (a Dwarf) and Legolas seemed completely unnecessary to me. Also there is a mention of different classes of Elves and Legolas being forbidden to marry Tauriel, also wrong as far as I know and silly. What was said in LOTR was Elves should not marry humans as they will outlive them but it happens anyway. Then there’s the scene were Gandalf goes to confront the Necromancer. It has some great action and we get the big reveal of Necromancer to be actually Sauron (in spirit form but still quite powerful). While this is also a departure from the book (to the best of my knowledge) what really didn’t make sense is Sauron doesn’t kill Gandalf. He beats him and puts him in a cage, why wouldn’t the dark lord just kill him? Surely he knows his power and threat, of course the answer is because it’s a prequel. Putting scene in here at all though reminded me of that and took my out of the movie.

Also while I think Smaug was excellent (and the scenes with him were fun) I think important details were left out. Dragons in the middle-earth love riddles. This dragon asks Bilbo none and offers none for him to solve. I realize Golem did this in the first movie but it should have been here as well. Other details also bothered me like Smaug was supposed to have a belly of coins as armour (he lied on them for many years). This was an important detail as Bilbo notices it and it is later used to defeat Smaug (as there is one spot without coins). Now instead of coins there is one spot on his belly which simply does not have scales, an old wound from a previous battle. I always thought the golden armoured belly was clever writing and I didn’t like Jackson changing it.

Other changes like the orcs constantly being on Dwarves tail and attacking them in many places while adding to the action, was a big departure from the book. The world wasn’t supposed to be as dark as this, if so I don’t see why Sauron would not have sent his ring wraiths to find Bilbo in this book, rather than waiting 60+ years to do so.

Final Thoughts:

Despite my grumbling I thoroughly enjoyed the movie. The barrel scene along  riverbanks in thrilling and a great deal of fun to watch. Smaug is very impressive and has some great moments with Bilbo and the Dwarves. There are lots of fun references to the later movies and Bilbo gets to really shine as a brave, smart and sneaky hero (as he does in the book). He saves the party several times and really shows his worth. The High-frame-rate 3D version I saw did look really cool and interesting. It makes it almost look like a documentary but yet it’s not, it’s strange at first but once you get used to I quite enjoyed it. I strongly recommend this movie and give it a strong 8/10. I would just caution big fans of the book that you’re getting a very different take and much like the LOTR tribology, the middle part is most likely the weakest link. Also again not suitable for young children. Until next time, (which will be a documentary review) I am, as always…

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