Tuesday, December 24, 2013


NOTE: I did not see this film in 3-D, or in 48 fps, or 96 rpms, or any of that stuff.

I really don't know why I'm even writing this post. Just go to my blogs timeline and scroll down to last December and read my thoughts on the first HOBBIT film. What I wrote then just about sums up THE DESOLATION OF SMAUG--a well-made production, but way overstuffed and overlong.

This time Peter Jackson & Co. make it all the way to page 233 of my paperback The Hobbit book. There's plenty of CGI-fuelled action sequences to spare, and just when you think that one of them is finally going to come to a climax....it goes on for about five more minutes. A perfect example of this is the part where Bilbo and the dwarves escape the Wood Elves through the use of barrels and a rapid waterway. It's one of the book's best moments, but Peter Jackson just can't leave well enough alone--he throws in a Orc-Elf battle, and so many crazy CGI stunts that it starts to border on the ridiculous.

Jackson also throws in a non-Tolkien created character--a hot female Elf (Evangeline Lilly), who serves as kind of a girlfriend for Orlando Bloom's Legolas. (If you can't remember what Legolas did in The Hobbit novel, that's because he wasn't IN the novel.) The hottie Elf was probably invented as a sop to all those critics who feel that Tolkien's Middle Earth doesn't have enough female characters (I guess political correctness is more important than great literature). The Elf chick even winds up having a mutual attraction to one of the dwarves (?????), at which point I started to wonder if Michael Bay had directed this film.

One thing I will say in this film's favor is that all the various locations of Middle Earth are superbly realized....the production design is fantastic. It's a great movie to look at....it might even work better as a silent film, with just Howard Shore's music on the soundtrack. (Yeah, like that's gonna happen.)

Eventually, the boys finally do get to Smaug. The dragon is certainly an impressive creature....but if you are any sort of film buff you've seen plenty of great cinematic dragons in your time. Just think about DRAGONSLAYER, and Ray Harryhausen, and heck, you can go all the way back to Fritz Lang's DIE NIBELUNGEN. What I'm trying to say is, with all the FX-laden movies being foisted on the public in the last decade, a creation like Smaug just can't have the same impact that it would have say, about fifteen years ago. Smaug is voiced by Benedict Cumberbatch, and he has almost as many lines of dialogue as anyone else in the cast.

Is THE DESOLATION OF SMAUG worth seeing? If you are a Tolkien fan, or a fan of the other movies, yeah, I think you should go see it on the big screen. If you are not a super-fan of these films, it's best if you stay home. SMAUG does has some nice moments mixed in with all the extra filling. But THE HOBBIT should have been really only one film, or maybe two. After the third HOBBIT entry comes out, Peter Jackson should go through the trilogy, throw out all the unnatural additives, and edit it down to one great movie. That's the version of THE HOBBIT that I am waiting for.

1 comment:

  1. A tad better than the first, but still feels like there's plenty more room left for improvement. Especially in the running-time. Nice review Dan.