How can we don't get a guest post for The Hobbit - The Desolation Of Smaug? Here come another guest review by my friend, Ben.
Minor spoiler is spotted so if you have not watched the movie, enter with care ;-)
In many ways the movie [The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug] (DS) is very similar to the recent movie [The Hunger Games: Catching Fire] (CF).
- Both were big screen adaption of a famous book, even the demographics for the books were similar, Hobbit was a children book (yes it is) while Hunger Games targeted late teens
- Both were the middle of an epic trilogy/ quadrilogy
- Both were amazingly long, clocking more than 2 and half hours of screen time
- Both started and ended abruptly, “gently” reminding of the next movie instalment
But where both draw from the source materials were also their biggest differences. CF had to squeeze an entire book in a movie, whereas DS was to spread a very thin book into 3 long movies. And those differences have shown.
DS was way too long, throwing in subplots and plot threads to drag an otherwise simple story: Continuing where we left in [The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey], the dwarves, along with Bilbo Baggins and Gandalf the Grey, continue their quest to reclaim Erebor, their homeland. This kinda made those eagles in the last movie assholes as they didn’t fly the pack to the nearby mountain.
So how do you add length into a linear movie? Director Peter Jackson brought back fans-favourite elf, Legolas, which didn’t appear in the book, and CREATED a new female elf, Tauriel. Officially Director Jackson said he wanted to give a feminise role in the all macho male characters, personally I felt it was to have an unwarranted love triangle among Tauriel, Legolas and dwarf Kili, and thereby further lengthen the movie. The affection was definitely senseless especially when Tauriel left Legolas to fend for himself so that she could take care of Kili. That’s so forced and out of character.
In addition, I felt the writer simply made up Gandalf’s magical power as and when the plot required. “oh made Gandalf super powerful when dealing with the apparition of Sauron, oh he needed to fight common orcs or trolls? Just used the sword”
Another comment I had was Director Jackson fond of keeping the dwarfs alive, every single one of them! The last movie we already had every one survived all the mishaps with no even a scratch, this time the dwarfs simply outdone themselves by getting through tasks after tasks with lives more than those of the cat. And they were repeating showing the “you wouldn’t be hurt by blazing fire as long you were behind a pillar” cliché. You have THIRETEEN dwarfs; it is ok to kill off a few!
The overly emphasis on action also saw character development taken a major backseat. Towards the end of the last Hobbit, we saw the warming up to Bilbo by Thorin. However in DS, despite Bilbo saving the dwarfs’ asses in every single turn, Thorin simply treated him like another disposable pawn.
How did the supposed plan worked again? Bilbo was supposed to sneak in to steal the Arkenstone from Smaug the Dragon, so that Thorin could use the stone to unite all dwarfs to go back and killed the dragon? (no spoilers here, this was explained in the first movie) Hmm… but didn’t Smaug literally destroyed the then united dwarfs’ kingdom? How would the new troop stand a better chance? Also this had got to be one of the most predictable ending for the antagonist, as I dared anyone walking out of DS not figuring out how Smaug would die in the next movie, straight down to by whom and where.
Now here’s the good part – technically DS is impeccable, if a movie is judged based on the action and effects, DS would have easily taken the Best Picture honour! The sets were magnificent, the actions well-choreographed and the scenes breathe taking.
Special mention goes to the CGI effect of Smaug the dragon. This was simply the best rendition of the mystical animal with top notch voice acting making the 20 minutes of so scenes with Bilbo so much enjoyable and yet menacing at the same time.
Advice: watch DS in all those cinemas with the new-age technologies, be it the IMAX, HFR or Dolby Atmos system, and its only ONE 3D movie this, [The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug] is the one.
Oh there is no teaser in the ending credits so you can head out, presumably to the nearest toilet after a 3 hours movie and Director Jackson appeared as cameo as the very first face figure shown.