The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug 3D
Academy Award® Nominee
The adventure of Bilbo Baggins continues as he journeys with the Wizard Gandalf and thirteen Dwarves, led by Thorin Oakenshield, on an epic quest to reclaim the Lonely Mountain and the lost Dwarf... View more >
extended sequences of intense fantasy action violence, and frightening images
Starring Martin Freeman, Ian McKellen, Richard Armitage... View more >
Under Jackson's direction, "The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug" was shot in 3D 48 frames-per-second and will be released in High Frame Rate 3D (HFR...
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Please Note: Reader Reviews are submitted by the readers of The BigScreen Cinema Guide and represent their own personal opinions regarding this movie, and do not represent the views of The BigScreen Cinema Guide, or any of its associated entities.
After a slow start, the Hobbit series has founf new life in the second movie which is titled "The Desolution of Smaug," anbd in a way it's a little better than the first, but still lag behind the Lord of the Rings series from a decade ago. Bilbo Baggins, Wizard Gandalf and the 13 Dwarves continue their quest to reclaom the lonely mountain and to take on the dragon. Director Peter Jackson continues to brath life into the series and so far I like the look of the series. I saw the movie on IMAX, the first time in over a year and I saw it in 3D. It cost me a bundle, but it's worth it. Even if I saw in 2D, my opinion will not change. Evangeline Lilly is one good looking elf.
I'm not a Lord of the Rings fan (my husband is), so I didn't expect to be excited by this movie. But out of all the films so far, I disliked this one the most. There was lots of fighting, but I didn't see much plot at all. I didn't read the book, but those who did kept telling me all the parts that were totally new and not from the book, to the point at which I said, "Ok, you've now described the entire movie". Yep. And what was changed didn't make a lot of sense to me (lots of "why did/didn't they just..."). And it looked like there was less effort put into the visuals - it looked much more video game like to me. Sometimes to the point of being very distracting.
Plus, of course, it's not really a stand alone movie by any means. it's like taking any other movie and just stopping it in the middle. Very odd place to just end abruptly, but after 3 hours I guess you have to.
It's not a terrible movie by any means. If you like LOTR you'll enjoy it. Just not a great movie. I put wait for rental, but if you aren't seeing it on the big screen there really is no point at all. One kid loved it, the other was "ehh".
Being a fan of the Lord of the Rings series of books and movies, and of The Hobbit (the book that started it all, and the first "real" book I read as a child), I'm an easy mark for Peter Jackson's rendition of The Hobbit on the big screen.
However, the mistake that I made before seeing "The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring" back in 2001 was repeated again before seeing this, the second installment of a three-movie adaptation of a 300-page book. That mistake was that I read the book before seeing the movie. In this particular instance, I listened to the audiobook version while traveling, read by Rob Inglis. It was very enjoyable to revisit the story that started my fascination with reading and that inspired me to dive into the Lord of the Rings books at age 10 or so.
Anyone who appreciates Tolkien's writing style and skill will likely have issues with Peter Jackson's adaptation. The Hobbit is a much more lighthearted story than the books that followed, and the movies follow that tone. However, it is in the changes that Jackson has made, either in the necessary effort to adapt a story as a movie, or (more likely) to stretch a single story into three quite long movies, that I found my patience strained while watching this movie.
With the first Hobbit movie (An Unexpected Journey), I found the addition of storylines (the whole Radagast storyline) a little bothersome but not that big a deal. Changing some events, like the encounter with the trolls, was a little more bothersome, but acceptable. Much of the "Riddles in the Dark" sequence between Bilbo and Gollum was retained, and that was the highlight of the movie, so overall, a balance was struck.
However, in "The Desolation of Smaug," Jackson treats the book as a mere outline in which to go nuts with his imagination and the technical wizardry of the special effects studio. In the process, much of the soul of the book's sequences that happened between the begin and end points of this movie is lost.
In the movie, the encounter with Beorn is an action sequence that puts the party in jeopardy. This makes Beorn a character to be feared, even by his allies. In the book, Gandalf must use his wits to introduce the party a little at a time so to gain Beorn's interest in their journey as well as his willingness to host such a large group in his home. That took finesse and intelligence, all of which is missing from the movie's encounter with this character.
There are so many examples of this type of thing going on that this review would get too long for anyone to read to detail them all, but the two most egregious changes must be mentioned.
The first is the spiders in Mirkwood. This storyline in the book gives Bilbo a chance to come into his own and take charge of serving the dwarves with some real value in Gandalf's absence. His teasing of the spiders and baiting them to follow him so the dwarves could escape is an important part of his arc from meek little hobbit to courageous Bilbo Baggins.
The second change and lost opportunity to retain the soul of the book is in the encounter with Smaug. The book makes this all about the mental gymnastics between Bilbo and the dragon, and how they banter back and forth trying to manipulate the other while maintaining a level of dignity and grace. That sounds odd because you're talking about a fire-breathing dragon, but its the choice of the author to make the challenge about using your head instead of just using your sword. In the movie, there is an extended action sequence, probably 30 minutes or so, involving Bilbo and nearly all the dwarves that seemed overly long and served to showcase the special effects (which were fabulous) more than it did to do anything for the story.
The 3D was good, but I don't think it was necessary to enjoy the movie. I found myself wishing I could remove the glasses about two hours in. This presentation was also in the High Frame Rate (HFR) process, and like the first Hobbit movie in which I experienced HFR for the first time, I didn't notice anything special or distracting about it. Maybe I could tell the difference by seeing it back-to-back with a viewing of the non-HFR 3D show.
Overall, the movie will be better received by those unfamiliar with the book. A second viewing will likely improve my feelings about the movie (as happened with "The Fellowship of the Ring"), as more distance is put between experiencing the original source material and the movie adaptation. It's also quite possible that the first two movies will be better once the final installment is complete and all three can be viewed as an entire work.
Until that time, however, The Desolation of Smaug must hold its own. Viewed as it stands now, it's less intelligent than the first movie, much less the original text. It exchanges intelligence and wordplay for action and special effects. It represents a missed opportunity in my mind, but perhaps it was necessary to make a commercially viable movie.
Will I see it again in theaters? Probably not. Will I purchase it on Blu-ray when it's released? Certainly.
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