Today I thought I would sit down and talk about my opinions and thoughts (plus some rants) of the recent Hobbit flick that was released last week. I will be talking about the movie as a whole so beware of SPOILERS. If you have not seen the movie and you want to remain unspoiled, come back once you have seen the movie. Also, I have not read the book so my thoughts/opinions will be based on the movie only. If you have seen the movie or do not care about being spoiled, then read on! Also if for some reason you have not seen The Lord of the Rings movies, you might want to skip this review since I will be drawing upon events that happen in this movie and how it relates to the later films. But who has not seen those films at this point when going in to see The Hobbit films?
My first viewing of the film was in 2D and the second was in 3D so I cannot comment about the 48 FPS versions. Or rant about them either. I have not even seen the previous Hobbit movie in the new 48 FPS so I cannot comment on how that was for that experience.
Before going deep into it, I will say that if you have issues with spiders in films that this movie is WORSE than the second Harry Potter film for spiders. Just saying. This fact communicated to me by those who DO NOT LIKE spiders at all. You should just prepare yourself to deal with a lot of spiders. The 3D also makes the spider look WORSE and uglier (but in a good way). You have been warned. Moving on!
I enjoyed the opening scene in Bree, though was very much confused about it for the first couple of seconds. I do not have the map of Middle Earth memorized but I know Bree is in the exact opposite direction of where the party was last at the end of the first film. The scene with Thorin and Gandolf for me showed how Gandolf starts subtly manipulating Thorin into dealing with the dragon, not so Thorin can reclaim his throne and birthright but to kill Smaug and eliminate a potential threat and ally of Sauron. It also allows Gandolf to have a valid excuse to go with the party so he can investigate any other clues towards Sauron’s activities, or more proof of Sauron’s return that he can bring to the White Council. Naughty Gandolf, naughty! My friends also let out a loud laughter when we saw Peter Jackson’s cameo. That man just demands to be directly in front of the camera whenever he is doing his cameo.
As the party found the entrance to the Lonely Mountain, Erebor, and moving forward, I could see a small shift in Thorin’s character. I could him more wanting to reclaim the treasure inside the mountain itself rather than reclaiming his homeland and his throne. I know in the books he is full on “I want the treasure”, but the first movie had him more wanting to reclaim his home. Now I can see the shift towards the treasure and I suspect by the final film, he will be consumed by his greed for treasure. This is important since Jackson is incorporating the fact that Thorin’s family ring is one of the Seven Dwarf Rings of Power given out by Sauron, rings that have caused the barriers to succumb to greed and anger, the last ring that no one knows the fate of. I know this is not explicitly dealt with in the book, rather being brought up in the Fellowship and the Silmarillion, but I feel that it makes sense to now tie that story thread into this trilogy. Though the only scenes in An Unexpected Journey that covers this story-line are only seen in the extended edition, which makes me sad. I am not looking forward to the extended edition for this film because I usually love the extra scenes and wish they were in the theatrical version. Well, I did not love the singing of Goblin Town musical number that we got and was MORE than happy to only see it in the extended.
The Master of Laketown and his servant Alfrid. Not having read the books I do not know how they were portrayed or used, but in this movie I found them horribly flat, two dimensional and boring. I was more disappointed with the Master of Laketown since he is played by the wonderful man Stephen Fry and thought we would see something more because he was playing him. He felt really underused and made me wish that someone else played him so it would feel less like a wasted opportunity. I only hope that the final movie will showcase his character more and redeem his lack of character in this one.
My major beef with this film is the amount and length of fight scenes in this movie and the Orcs. Oh my GOD! I feel like half of this movie was just pointless fighting scenes with Orcs. A lot of the scenes just felt long and feel like that they could have been shortened up, especially with Legolas’ fights with them in Lake Town. We really did not need ¾ of that actually, especially since he was not even in the book to begin with! After a while of seeing so many long Orc battles, you just get desensitized to them and it becomes boring. It also does not help that I know dwarves do not start dying until much later. So there is no point, they are too long, no real threat since no one is going to die anytime soon, and happen too often in a single film. I enjoy fight scenes but I started rolling my eyes at a point when the fight scenes started and tuned them out. But that leaves the question, if the fight scenes were reduced, what would I have liked to seen fleshed out? Perhaps the movie could have kept on going with scenes of Smaug attacking Laketown. Fleshing out of the evilness of the Master of Laketown. Pick up to the movie a little closer to the end of Unexpected Journey. OH! What about a glimpse of the elf festival/dinner happening while our dwarves are locked up in the prison? That would have been interesting to see because we do not get to see many glimpses into Elf society without another race involved.
There are too many Orcs in this movie! From what I understand about Orcs is that there are no female Orcs, that they are created through the corruption of men and elves by Sauron, and that the most of them would have been located in Mordor because of the Battle of Mount Doom. Why are there so many Orcs just popping out of nowhere across Middle Earth when we are not anywhere NEAR Mordor?! I realize that a lot of time has passed between the Battle of Mount Doom and The Hobbit but if Sauron has only started gaining power in the last 10 years or so, then how do we have so many Orcs? No one else was around who could make them and there has been no indication that they can procreate naturally. You see more Orcs in this movie alone then all of Lord of the Rings combined! I have the feeling that Peter Jackson got carried away in this film and forgot that small detail.
I feel that the title of the film, Desolation of Smaug, is rather misleading since we do not get to see the dragon until closer to the end and we do not see much of him actually destroying things that lives up to the definition of desolation: a state of complete emptiness or destruction. Erebor is quiet intact by the end of this film, Laketown’s destruction is looming, Dale receives this level of destruction but we already saw that happen in the flashback in Unexpected Journey. I suppose the desolation could refer to the absolute emptiness inside Erebor due to Smaug’s occupation of the mountain but that feels unsatisfying to me.
I realize I have sounded rather negative about the film and been picky about choices made, choices that really are not major to the story itself. But there is a reason why I am being critical about it: because I really ENJOYED this movie and I do not want to do nothing but gush and gush about it. I loved how we saw the naming of Sting, the tying in of the effects of the Ring on Bilbo, Thorin’s character changes, the barrel scene, the scenes involving Smaug and Bilbo, Smaug in general, and the on-screen reveal that Fili and Kili are Thorin’s nephews. I really did love this movie and franchise. If I did not love this, I would not have gone to see it Thursday night! I also would not have been annoyed with the evilness of the cliffhanger to the movie ends on. I just do not want to talk about the movie as if it had not faults. No movie has zero faults and I do not want to treat this movie any different just because I love it. If I were to compare this film to The Two Towers, I have to say that I enjoy The Two Towers a lot more then Desolation of Smaug. I feel like we get more significant progress in the story-arc of the story, more events wrap up and emerge in the film, and overall feels more satisfying even as a stand-alone.
I love the scene in Mirkwood where we see Bilbo searching for the ring, go crazy on the white spider thing and kill it, the look of joy we see in his face when he gets the ring back and the absolute look of HORROR when reality sinks in and he realizes what he felt and what he did to get the ring back. It seemed like we got a little bit of vom at the end there. It looked like we were right at that line before they pulled back. It shows the range of Martin’s emotions and abilities as an actor, but also how the ring is truly starting to affect him. I loved it the first time and enjoyed it thoroughly the second time.
Oh, the scene with Bombur in the barrel. Is that moment absolutely ridiculous and farfetched? Oh yes, but for that scene, I do not care. At the end of the day, this is based on a children’s book and that moment works for something written in that tone. It is purely silly, wonderful, and enjoyable and given what happens in the rest of the movie, it works for the film.
I saw the movie for a second time in 3D Tuesday night and found it to be an enjoyable experience. They did not use the trope of “Ohhhh there is this thing flying at you” bullshit and only a few objects come towards the audience but they are small and part of the atmosphere. Some of the graphics looked kinda eww (like they ran out of time to work on it) and the 3D did not help it look any better but there were no “Bad 3D” usage moments. For the most part, the 3D was used to enhance background imagery to make things look pretty and gorgeous, but not to distract the audience from what is happening.
Now that you have read my opinions about the film, what do you think? Agree, disagree? Did you catch something that I may have missed? Let me know in the comments and I will be happy to response to you.