Published on December 17th, 2013 | by Ari Nellen1
Ari Reviews The Hobbit 2: The Desolation of Smaug
Muse, Ithika & I all went to the premier of The Hobbit 2: The Desolation of Smaug. So in an attempt to give you some words from more than one of us I’m going to talk about The Desolation of Smaug forgetting all other writings other than The Hobbit. Ithika is well versed with The Silmarillion and other Tolkien texts.
The thing the movie does right is the fight scenes and the comical nature of the film. It really goes a long way to picking up the heart and childlike essence of the book. The fight senses aren’t a blur of realness; each blow is exaggerated, and this allows you to follow along. At one point Legolas stands atop dwarf heads shooting orcs out of the air. And that’s just great! A simple, and possibly over exaggerated telling. Almost as if a hobbit could brag!
The film falls down where it steps out of this. In an attempt to draw the movie into three an ‘epicness’ must be added, like some sort of Hollywood recipe with too many conflicting flavours. Queue Sauron, and serious business talks from orcs which don’t quite leave you with a sense of importance that they should. The Lord of The Rings gave a real sense of urgency, of the dire consequences and sacrifices of war. Arguably padding the story should never had been attempted, and in the end the balance of seriousness and humour just fail to bring the plot together. The additions even detract from the plot in part because you’re anticipating an event you know is coming because you’ve read it.
It’s unfortunate the additional dialogue doesn’t come off as Tolkien. Stephen Fry was given Stephen Fry lines and delivered them like a Stephen Fry character from Fry and Laurie. Martin Freeman is such a strong actor, but every now and again I’d just get a sense that that Bilbo, or Freeman, was in on the joke, his reactions too modern for The Hobbit. Yet Freeman and the script goes a long way to characterise the addiction, weakness and also the strength in Bilbo. It’s in these moments you really get down to the grit of the story and it’s heartbreaking in a way book isn’t. It’s this addition that I really think is an improvement and is delivered in short bursts so that the feel of the scene doesn’t change.
Evangeline Lilly is so right, it’s so fantastic that they wrote in a woman into a story that had none. It’s just unfortunate that there is only one. Oh, and that they put her in a love triangle. Because Hollywood. And hopefully in the future there will be additional female leads, and additional POCs, because representation matters!
The Desolation of Smaug is great visually, and they did well to give every location a high fantasy feel. 3D had it’s moments though was utilised as a gimmick, and it always felt it could have been better used with Smaug. I must mention there is some awful quality footage during the barrel chase, with some kind of barrel-cam. It’s so obviously terrible and distracting from the action.
Let’s get down to the teeth of the review: the movie fails to deliver like the last, since there aren’t as many scenes where the movie mirrors the feel book. And not just the additional scenes. I liked The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey more, because even though Desolation of Smaug had great fight scenes and actually there is a dragon, it failed to fire my nostalgia cannons. In the end isn’t that the main reason to see the books of your childhood on screen?
Three and a half out of five! But I would see it over again, because there’s still nostalgia there, though perhaps I should just go and read the book out loud.
Edit: The further out I am from the cinema, the more fondly I think of this film! I keep remembering the great bits and not the bits that broke the atmosphere.