Light Entertainment, Laid on Thick “The Desolation of Smaug” – Review

Studio: Warner Brothers (via New Line)Desolation of Smaug

Director: Peter Jackson

Screenwriters: Peter Jackson, Phillipa Boyens, Fran Walsh, Guillermo Del Toro

Actors: Martin Freeman, Richard Armitage, Ian Mckellen, Luke Evans, Orlando Bloom, Evangeline Lilly, (and the voice of Benedict Cumberbatch as Smaug)

Plot: They finally make it to the mountain they saw at the end of the first film, but the first Hobbit film, not the “Lord of the Rings” film.

“The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug” is an okay movie, some nice fantastical elements, quite overlong, but provides great escapism. It is held back from greatness by wrapping its story around arguably the most pointless trilogy ever manufactured by large scale cinema and comfortably dawdling in the shadow of another great franchise it should only occasionally pay homage to.

Before I continue I will say that the only Middle earth lore that I have read is the prologue “Concerning Hobbits, and other matters” from “The Fellowship of the Ring”. I am strictly a film fan of the series, and my opinion of watching “The Journey Begins” was that it felt like a bit of a drag. Going into this installment knowing that the four screenwriters had written some original material outside of Tolkien’s novels to go along with the movie got me a bit excited. I have to say I was a bit let down, it seemed like the filmmakers weren’t really challenging themselves here.

Getting my general complaint out of the way quickly is that at this point the series feels formulaic. — “Where’s Bilbo?” Bilbo shows up, demonstrates courage, saves the day, cue Howard Shore’s gently uplifting recycled oscar winning score. None of the die-hard fans or at least the kind that represents the vocal minority on the internet seem to really be bothered by the way in which this adaptation is being treated into 3 somewhat-mediocre films rather than a singular focused masterpiece, and I don’t blame them for wanting to stay in this richly drawn world for as long as possible, but for the filmmakers who are even fans themselves, I would ask for more quality over quantity.

Here is Warner Brothers, sitting on a pile of money.

My older brother pointed out to me once while watching “King Kong” that he thought director Peter Jackson seemed to rely a bit too much on CGI. I for one here would initially think that with “The Hobbit” aimed towards a less gritty adult style than “Lord of the Rings”, the CGI would serve the lighter tone of the film better, but in the manner it’s done here it comes across as lazy and inconsistent, with occasionally sub-par CGI used on some orcs (or parts of them) and not others it serves as a distraction.

Speaking of distractions every single callback to the “The Lord of the Rings” that lasts more than a few seconds ruins the pacing and tone of the movie by getting in the way of the main plot, which I’m aware of but not quite as clear as I should be on. Fan-service doesn’t serve a film very well when you refer to a brewing yet rather unrelated conflict that the audience knows was already solved in another film series a decade ago next Tuesday. Funnily enough for some reason, I didn’t think the time-keeping in Middle Earth followed the Gregorian calendar.

The-Hobbit-The-Desolation-of-Smaug-Dwarves (1)
The dwarves, mostly shown in order of importance.

The screenplay for the film is a slight weak point, as it takes its time understandably it doesn’t develop the dwarfs in any interesting or compelling way to justify its running time. There are sparks of interest that lie in each of the supporting characters but it is left at that. For Tolkien fans I suppose that’ll do, since I imagine what was or was not presented in books was properly left to the imagination, but here much of what is feels like a waste or a wasted opportunity. I can’t quite remember the names of all the dwarfs but considering the amount of screen time they’ve had so far you’d think they’d talk about something interesting other than the journey. These are the most focused characters I have ever seen on screen, five and a half hours in and they haven’t bothered to really let themselves or the audience get to know one another.

Maybe its because they were as taken aback by the sheer spectacle of Middle Earth as I was. The action in the film is more varied and plentiful than it was in the last film but of course much is still saved for the finale, and with a high production value I understand why Peter Jackson doesn’t want to leave, the whole thing looks like a soft coloured painting. The scenery is brightly lit and beautiful, such a visually resplendent treat that it makes sense to sit and take it in, not for 2 hours and forty one minutes though. A little precious indulgence now and then isn’t too hurtful, but it can lead to audience neglect and unintentionally boring periods of desolation.

Rising star Luke Evans as Bard/ Girion, right before he gets verbally bitch-slapped by Thorin.

— In the spirit of The Hobbit here’s some Random Filler

If you really liked the book you’ll probably ignore most or any of the legitimate film criticisms, and that’s fine, this review isn’t for you.

By far the nerdiest/ geekiest audience I have ever seen any movie with; giggling in satisfaction at references or recognizable faces (both in character and actor, boasting about their knowledge of something that has no bearing on real life or effect on the story to people who either already know or don’t care, all of which I don’t mind but clapping at the end of a movie which annoys me. Why aren’t Tributes or Potterheads this annoying?

The shortest live-action film set on middle earth.

Legolas is in this movie, along with a new original character “Tauriel” played by Evangeline Lilly.

I understand I didn’t really touch on the plot of this movie in this review, I don’t really care.

There is a handicam shot in this film in the middle an action set-piece that completely took me out of the film.

The Coming Attractions for this film were good; “Godzilla”, “Edge of Tomorrow”, and the capstone to the McConaissance “Interstellar”.

The treasure room of the dragon “Smaug” inside the lonely mountain from a set design standpoint feels a bit like a missed opportunity, but I know nothing I am just a critic.

My second favourite Martin Freeman film of the year.

In Theatres Now.

Rating: 0/ C+

-3 -2 -1 0 +1 +2 +3

*The continuum scale is set ranges films from being one of the worst ever seen to the best of the year, the middle which is neutral, indicates the film had no effect good or bad. To some that’s the worst of all.


2 Comments Add yours

  1. CMrok93 says:

    It was fine for being a sequel to the mediocre Hobbit, however, I just hope that the last installment isn’t as long, or as meandering as they’ve both been. That’s my only wish for this unneeded trilogy, and it probably won’t get granted. Good review.


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