You know, there are some movies I’m not really in a hurry to see. Some, I immediately put on my wish list when they come out on Bluray, some I even try to pre-order and then there are movies like The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, which honestly, I want to see sometime, I just don’t bother trying all that hard to see them.
So here’s my belated review of the latest Peter Jackson Middle Earth money grab.
Don’t get me wrong, I don’t hate Peter Jackson and I’m not against his movies set in Middle Earth, I think it’s a pretty universal thing that making The Hobbit into 3 movies is a blatant cash grab, especially considering the page count of the source material. Jackson had to steal from the Silmarillion as well as other writings of Tolkien in order to come up with enough material to fill three movies and let’s be honest, he still didn’t do that very well.
So he padded. There is padding galore in this film. Every other shot is the characters walking across a vast landscape or running somewhere. Walking or running, running or walking, that’s how to pad a Peter Jackson movie.
So, in keeping with my other belated reviews, I’ll give you a good or bad free association detailing my thoughts about the movie.
GOOD – The effects, of course, are amazing, but what can you expect when you throw as much money at a motion picture as they do at Peter Jackson films? The CGI does not disappoint anywhere.
BAD: Come on, the 3D effects in this were blatantly and painfully obvious, they threw things at the screen regularly so that the people who paid extra for 3D tickets got their money’s worth. However, most of it wasn’t subtle or clever, it was just things coming out of the screen. It was almost as painful as watching Jaws 3D, which I did see in 3D when it came out and regretted it. Let’s be honest, 3D is a gimmick in most movies. Most just aren’t as obvious as this one.
BAD: The dialogue really isn’t that great throughout. There are some notably bad segments between Gandalf and Thorin where they have to keep hitting the audience over the head again and again with the most obvious of plot points, in this case, that Smaug must die.
GOOD: The pacing was much, much better than in Unexpected Journey. Still too much walking but at least there weren’t vast swaths of boredom, then a few minutes of excitement, it was much better distributed.
BAD: Azog the Defiler, our scarred and mutilated orc with an axe for an arm was invented out of whole cloth for the films, but really wasn’t necessary. People really liked the orcs in the Lord of the Rings trilogy, therefore they are brought back to be additional enemies for the 13 dwarves. He hasn’t personally done anything of note in the first two movies, but worst of all, he has a seemingly unending army of orcs following him around, no matter how many our heroes manage to cut down, there are still dozens left to cause trouble.
BAD: Legolas stuck into the movie for the sake of the fangirls. There was a romantic subtext added between Legolas and Tauriel that I suspect was there to make the fangirls swoon, but it quickly went absolutely nowhere, especially since Legolas’ father said there was no way in hell he’d let them be together. So, Legolas was freed once again to fuel fangirl fantasies and Tauriel immediately fell for the dwarf Kili. Nothing really comes from it, of course and it feels a lot like Peter Jackson’s own fan fiction padding out the plot. Besides, Orlando Bloom is plainly older in Hobbit than he was in Lord of the Rings, which makes no sense because Hobbit happens before LOTR.
ABSURD: The chase of the dwarves was just ridiculous. Legolas balancing on dwarf heads shooting at orcs just left me shaking my head. Come on, this isn’t supposed to be a comedy.
GOOD: I really liked Bard the barge-man who smuggled the dwarves into Laketown. He opposes the direction that the town has been going since the downfall of the dwarves but he also fears Smaug and he’s probably right to do so. Still, he puts himself at risk to help the dwarves and we know that he or his son are going to be instrumental in bringing Smaug down.
BAD: When Thorin arrives with his key and hopes that the last rays of sunlight will reveal the lock, but as soon as the sun goes down, Thorin and the other dwarves just walk away, leaving Bilbo to solve the mystery, which is pretty damn simple. And this guy is supposed to be king of the dwarves? And the second that Bilbo figures it out, magically, Thorin and the other dwarves are back?
BAD: The battle with Smaug was both impressive and laughable. First off, Bilbo has only two jobs to do, but I’d think the most important is not to wake Smaug up, which he does immediately. Then he treats Smaug like a complete idiot instead of the legendary dragon that he actually is. Granted, Smaug isn’t always that bright and his ego gets in the way, but once Bilbo rejoins the dwarves, the whole thing gets slapstick. Seriously, the part where Thorin is hanging down the tunnel with Smaug was almost Harold Lloyd funny, especially the bit where he was balancing on Smaug’s muzzle, and the restarting of the dwarven furnaces was absurd. And for what? So they could half-way forge a dwarven statue that would fall apart and threaten to destroy Smaug? We all know nothing of the sort is going to happen, even though Smaug should have been badly injured by the molten gold. Smaug has script immunity until it’s necessary to take a black bolt to the chest.
This isn’t a horrible movie but it is a blatantly obvious cash grab, stuffed full of filler and Peter Jackson fanfic. This should have been one movie. There is no reason for it to be a trilogy other than wanting to put another wing on Jackson’s house. As hesitant as I am to compare this to Lord of the Rings, this is no Lord of the Rings. It’s a good movie, it just isn’t nearly up to the standards that we’ve come to expect from Jackson or the Tolkien estate.