THE HOBBIT: THE DESOLATION OF SMAUG
BY CHRISTOPHER HASKELL
DECEMBER 26, 2013
Where Peter Jackson had a distinct vision and fleshed out story with an appropriate ending point in “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey,” he somewhat loses that vision with the sequel, “The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug.” We all wondered how Jackson would make this short children’s story by J.R.R. Tolkien into three films and now we know, by padding the second (and most likely the third) film with enough filler to give it the girth of an almost three-hour-long adventure. Not to say “The Desolation Of Smaug” isn’t a great film, because it most definitely is, it simply does not pack the epic punch that first film contained. So many camera shots and action sequences feel extraneous in “Desolation”, creating that strong sense of filler, whereas a sequence could easily be handled in a few minutes, now becomes ten to twenty minutes. Where a simple introduction of the already established character Elvenking Thranduil (Lee Pace) could have been handled within seconds becomes a much more labored delivery. And by the time the film is coming to its conclusion, there are so many different storylines and so much cutting between them that all suspense and sometimes understanding of the plots are lost in the constant cut.
All is not lost, however, as the addition of character Tauriel (Evangeline Lilly) is a nice addition, connecting the elven world to that of the dwarves with a love triangle. She and Legolas (Orlando Bloom) make a nice team and with Bloom in play, making for some great foreshadowing of what’s to come in “The Lord Of The Rings” tales, besides Legolas taking on a complete character change in this prequel. Martin Freeman, Ian McKellen, and the entire dwarf company continues their solid turns, especially with Freeman as Bilbo, who continues to grab hold of this role and make it his own, bringing out much of the humor in the film, without being blatant, especially when facing the sleeping dragon, Smaug. Kudos to the CGI team and Benedict Cumberbatch in bringing to life this monstrous dragon, who lives up to everything you dream him to be from the book and can only truly be experienced in full form on the big screen. Other great bits of the film include Luke Evans as Bard and the spectacular down river barrel ride that had me laughing hysterically. With most of the book out of the way, we can only expect that most of the third film will be climax, and epilogue, along with the conclusion to Gandalf’s tale in Dol Guldur. Although I enjoyed the first film more, I still found parts of “The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug” quite enjoyable, eventually what will make this like “The Lord Of The Rings,” in which together as a whole, they will make an amazing trilogy, but separately, they will falter.
December 13, 2013
Guillermo del Toro
by J. R. R. Tolkien
New Line Cinema
Warner Bros. Pictures
(for extended sequences of intense fantasy action violence, and frightening images)