Movie Review: The Hobbit, The Desolation of Smaug

Looking back through my blog I realized today that I never wrote a review about the first Hobbit movie. Eh, the tl;dr version of what I would’ve written was: Dug that they included some of the songs but, my god, did this movie ramble on.

And it really did. Michelle and I both left the theater wondering why, exactly, it was as long as it was. Couldn’t they have paired down some of those OMGRUNNING scenes? Couldn’t they have tightened up that intro into how The Hobbit is connected to The Lord of the Rings series? I’ve read one account about the extended version of the Hobbit is actually better than the theatrical release, not necessarily because of more content but because the content that was taken out actually made what they left in flow better, which to me seems like the exact opposite way one should edit a movie.

Regardless, I’m pleased to say that both Michelle and I liked The Hobbit, The Desolation of Smaug a lot more than the first film.

Now, that’s not to say that the first film was without its moments. The riddle scene with Gollum was pretty much as good as it ever could’ve been (and by that I mean it was bloody excellent with the theatrical Gollum’s unique brand of murderous insanity and humor mixed together) and I really dug that they left in Under Misty Mountain and Carefully with the Plates. Some of the fight scenes were ok and running through Goblin Town was alright even if I didn’t get Fifteen Birds in Five Fir Trees at the end of it.

The Hobbit, The Desolation of Smaug also had great moments. The scene with the spiders was nice and creepy, especially with Bilbo being able to understand them while wearing the ring, although I would’ve liked to see him do his smack talking that he does in the book to get them all riled up. The escape via barrels was well done also (although the orcs chasing them was completely made up), and, really, what fan of the book wouldn’t want to see Bombur the fattest dwarf ever kick tail? The nod to Gimli/Legolas’ relationship was also a nice touch thrown in and made me want to go back and re-watch LotR just to see them again.

And Smaug. My god, I enjoyed the initial scenes with Smaug and Bilbo so much. I wish they’d done the full self-glorification Smaug engages in (they trimmed the bit where he describes himself) but after hearing Benedict Cumberbatch do Smaug’s voice I can’t imagine anyone else doing it; he was a brilliant casting choice. As far as appearances go I have no issue with the way they designed the dragon. When it comes to such iconic, non-human characters it’s always a little worrisome when they’re going to be adapted for the big screen, I always fear that I won’t like the representation we’re given, but I was happy with this one.

Also, unlike other people who were annoyed by the parts that were added to the movie, such as EVERYTHING having to do with Tauriel, the white orc, and Lake Town, I minded it less in this movie. While it’s more or less The Hobbit fanfiction, I liked Tuariel, especially since they decided to add the non-cannon bits with Legolas. Plus it’s nice to see that there are other elves, especially female elves, who can kick just as much ass as Legolas.

This movie also flowed better in my opinion. Yes, was it a bit more action oriented than the previous movie? Certainly, but in this case I think it helped because the parts where they made up action and added it to the cannon parts of the story, such as the barrel ride, helped make those parts more exciting (where as the parts they added into the first movie made it feel bogged down). I dug what they did with the Necromancer arc in this movie and the big reveal of who the Necromancer really is (especially with the reveal of the “eye”).

The parts that I didn’t like? Honestly, for as much as I like him in the book the Beorn of the movie was a little…lacking and, honestly, they could’ve just pulled a Bombadill with him and I don’t think it would’ve made that much of an impact on the film. The movie did have some pacing issues (I think they could’ve trimmed the time spent wandering the forest or running away from the dragon). Some aspects of Tauriel’s addition did feel a little stilted; did we really need an elf-dwarf romance plot line?

In the end though Michelle and I liked this film and were happy to have seen it. I’m glad I went to see it in the theater because I think I would’ve really missed out on seeing Smaug on the big screen like that. We saw it in 2D and I think, in hindsight, it wouldn’t have been a bad thing if we’d seen it in 3D.

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