The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug

I have every intention of talking about this movie in detail so if you haven’t seen it yet, don’t read any more! If you have seen it or don’t care about spoilers then read on! Soooo….

SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS EVERYWHERE

I went to see Desolation of Smaug this past Saturday (in 2D for this viewing) and I left the theater feeling deeply conflicted. And I think that one of my friends said it best: The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug is very entertaining fan fiction.

I wasn’t disappointed with the film; on the contrary, I think some things came out excellently. Also, I went in knowing that Peter Jackson likes to change things and An Unexpected Journey showed that he was going to be taking quite a few liberties with the story.

I’ll start with the good things first:

  • I loved Beorn. He’s one of my favorite Tolkien characters and I was worried about his part in this movie. He’s nothing like I expected or really imagined him to be but I think the film showed his strangeness and uniqueness perfectly. I also love that we’re getting to see more of Middle-earth than the hobbits, elves, dwarves, and men. The main problem? The scene’s too short. Something tells me we’ll see him again in the next film.Beorn
  • Thranduil. Lee Pace. We tend to forget that the elves are…not like us. We’ve been used to Legolas in LotR as primarily a warrior and bits from Elrond and Galadriel showing us how wise they are. But the Mirkwood elves are different, even from their Elven kin. They’re not as wise and they’re much earthier than their ethereal cousins.  And Thranduil is WEIRD. He doesn’t really leave his palace. He doesn’t want to leave. He looks weird (is he not blinking?). He acts weird. But he’s also completely faaaabulous. (Seriously, his entrance? Total fan girl service.) And can I please, pretty please, go live with the Mirkwood elves? That place is gorgeous.Thranduil
  • Smaug. He is truly magnificent. Part of me is glad that they expanded his scenes so much because he is the true antagonist of this movie and since they clearly worked so hard on him and created such a perfect dragon, to have him disappear after just a short dialogue with Bilbo would have been a shame. Smaug

As these were the things that I was looking forward to most in this movie I’m pleased they came out well.  But Peter Jackson can’t seem to understand that The Hobbit is not Lord of the Rings, even though he really, really wants it to be. The Hobbit just can’t support the epic story line of something like LotR and that’s why we have the additions of the Azog story line, Tauriel and the whole White Council/Necromancer subplot. And this is where the conflict comes in for me.

I have no real problems with these additions. Film and books are two separate mediums and however much Tolkien fans might want Tolkien’s words translated directly on the screen, that probably would not make a very good movie. So I’m ok with the Necromancer plot- it’s a connecting bridge to the LotR movies, besides showing some background on Sauron, and Jackson knows he’ll probably never be going back to Middle-earth. Do what he can when he can, I guess. I also don’t have a problem with Tauriel, either in theory or in the actual movie (although the Tauriel/Kili romance is a bit awkward and I have a horrible feeling that she’s either going to die in battle in the next film with Kili or she’ll be so devastated by the outcome of the battle that she leaves Middle-earth) but just so everyone knows, I have no problem with a male only cast. Please don’t feel you need to appease women in general or feminists specifically by creating female characters.

I do, however, have a problem with the tone of this movie and it is far more pronounced in this chapter of the trilogy than the previous one. It’s why, instead of a barrel escape from the Hall of the Elven King, we get a fight scene in open barrels with elves and orcs in close pursuit. It’s why, instead of a rather dignified battle of words between Bilbo and Smaug, we have another fight scene where the dwarves try to destroy Smaug. And while it’s all incredibly entertaining and an amazing spectacle, it’s not really The Hobbit. We’ve lost the innocent wonder and the charming humor of an out of place hobbit dragged along on an adventure he never wanted, to a world he never knew existed.

So far, I’ve only watched the movie once. I’ll probably watch it at least once more (3D this time perhaps?) and maybe my opinion of the movie will change. I can’t claim to have ever been a huge fan of the book but it is a shame that the best adaptation we are likely to get on film has to be so far removed from the original source material.

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6 thoughts on “The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug

  1. aworldoffilm says:

    Nice post. I have a film blog but I mostly discuss older or art-house films. Check it out.

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  2. jackconner says:

    Very nice write-up. I’m kind of conflicted on the film. I thought it was a vast improvement on the first one but still not quite what it should be. Replacing the practical orcs with CGI orcs really hurts the movie, and I think the needless action scenes would have felt more justified or at least interesting to watch if the orcs had been “real”. As it was, the barrel chase is just painful to watch. Yes, the romance between Tauriel and Kili was a bit awkward. I’m hoping that gets smoother in the EE. And, you’re right, I’m sure one, probably Tauriel, is going to die.

    I hope you like the HFR 3D. The movie, frankly, looks terrible in HFR, but the CGI is hugely improved. Smaug looks amazing. Still, I don’t recommend that format.

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    • Mary says:

      Oddly enough, the HFR 3D was my favorite format of all of the options for the first film but I think that had a lot to do with that also being the best theater experience of all my viewings (too many people talking!). I noticed a lot of blurring in that film that seemed to disappear in the HFR. I did not notice that blurring in DOS so I’m thinking that the HFR will be unnecessary at best.

      And I almost always feel that real is better than CGI. Sure, fake orcs and elves means we get some cool action sequences buuut…the freedom it offers often results in some borderline ridiculous actions.

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  3. Rob says:

    I was so happy Jackson left Beorn in this film! He was one of my favorite characters too. One of my key disappointments in the LOTR films was that Tom Bombadil was left out. Hope you’re right about Beorn being in the next one.

    Happy New Year!

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