The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug (2013)
Back to another three-hour trip to Middle Earth. While the second Hobbit film is an improvement in just about every way, it’s still a clear example of a franchise stretching to the breaking point. Peter Jackson gets the second installment moving a lot quicker, and there are several standout action sequences that are glorious on the big screen. Unfortunately it still takes almost two full hours to get to the dragon of the title, but when it does, oh does the movie become that much grander. Benedict Cumberbatch gives frightful life to Smaug (pronounced, for whatever reason, as “Smaa-oog”), and the special effects are top-notch. The last forty minutes of the movie are solid gold, as Bilbo and the dwarves work together to battle Smaug in a virtuoso development of imaginative action; it’s wonderful how many moving parts are involved in this action set piece. However, Hobbit 2 still feels needlessly padded to meet out a trilogy. Does Gandalf (Ian McKellen) need to just disappear on his own mission that accomplishes what? Do I care at all about the people of Lake Town let alone their populist revolts? Do I need a parallel storyline about an injured dwarf? And for that matter, do I need a budding lady elf-dwarf romance? J.R.R. Tolkien fans will be in heaven (though maybe just purgatory with all the changes) to gawk at the realm of Middle Earth, but I always feel antsy (“Get on with it already”). Still, The Desolation of Smaug is an entertaining and at times majestic fantasy epic, I just wish Jackson and company didn’t take so many pit stops. Well at least we won’t have to wait so long for the dragon in Hobbit 3.
Nate’s Grade: B
Posted on January 28, 2014, in 2013 Movies and tagged action, benedict cumberbatch, book, evangeline lily, fantasy, ian mckellen, lord of the rings, martin freeman, orlando bloom, peter jackson, richard armitage, sequel, stephen fry. Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.
I thought there were some serious casting errors in this film, not the least of them Cumberpatch as the dragon. As a huge Tolkien fan I can still understand why many of the changes to the existing story were made (and in this example the 2nd film takes the book as merely a suggestion). I can also understand why some of the additional elements/storylines have been added, but you’re quite right that there are some seriously extraneous elements (and some like the elf-dwarf romance are just outright silly). I don’t mind it being padded out because it’s a glorious cinematic experience. I’m just not sure it’s good storytelling. As I have lamented on Twitter, it is a shame an actual adaption of the Hobbit will now never be possible.
Good review Nate. Still feels a little longer than it should be, but needless to say, I still am having fun with this franchise. Just needs to go out on a very good and high note to not feel like a waste of precious time and money.