Friday, December 20, 2013

The Desolation of Smaug - A Review

I want to take a moment to talk to you people about the film that opened last week and according to Box Office Mojo has made a domestic total of over $96,000,000 and is currently the reigning king of the box office: The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug.

I’m not going to bother with much organization here, but I will keep the visible text spoiler free so if you haven’t seen the film yet, you may proceed safely. Just don’t highlight that last bit until you’ve seen the film, and if you can’t resist, dude that’s all on you.

I was so excited to see this film last weekend. The first one was wonderful; I enjoyed every second of it. This one however, too many flaws. It annoyed me. A lot. I accidentally kicked the seat-back in front me a couple times out of irritation. Sorry dude who sat in front of me. It wasn’t personal, I  promise. My foot just attacked your seat without my consent. (In my defense however, I didn’t kick very hard at all. I think.)

Why the film irritated me in one sentence: deviations from the original story, less than perfect CGI in several places, and really just too much made-up action and storylines and too little original Tolkien. It's such a shame because this film is overall a beautiful piece of work; Jackson really has great taste and style in film-making. I have a lot of respect for him and his work. The cinematography is great, the sets outstanding, acting also great, makeup - very nice (good job on contouring and highlighting those elf faces), scores as usual wonderfully done, but script? Meh.

Tauriel's story and addition to the company is not one that I personally liked very much, at least not the particular twist they threw in. Also, aside from one major problem being settled in this film, all other ends are left open and unresolved and the ending comes about at a most irritating time.

Speaking of Tauriel, the lovely Evangeline Lilly gave an interview here where she made some really interesting remarks about her fake Tolkien character, and throughout the article I was all,

Ah ha.
Yes, yes, I get that.
Okay fine that makes some sense.
Well at least I now have a better idea as to what their ideas were.
Your people really thought all these replies through, didn’t they?

But then I just look back at the film and want to scream, “WHY?” It’s really the same issue I have with the trilogy. Beautiful films through and through, but good grief man, why must you wander away from the story and do this to us?

I mean, I totally get it. Marketing strategy, for one. Example: Bloom is nice to look at. He has a big fan base. His character has a big fan base. Character and nice face making an appearance in a film where most of said character and face fan base is even though he doesn’t appear in The Hobbit story? Win-win.  Same thing with their created elven character. Strong female roles sell well. Also, personal ideas, forward thinking in what’s best for the film, Other People with power and money have a say in what’s in and out as well and a million other things are taken into account and all have a hand, foot and tooth in the making of a film but that doesn’t stop me (and many, many other die hard Tolkien fans) from getting thoroughly pissed.

I can respect this as a film, but as a follow-up to the first one that stayed so true to the original story this just went too far off the other end and as a result many of the characters ended up in situations that their original personalities per their original storylines just wouldn't take them. As a fan of the books, this was disappointing. However, those who griped and whined about the first film being too slow and the general audience who is not an avid fan of Tolkien, this film will probably be more to their liking.

When it comes down to it, all I can say is: enjoy the film for being an amazing piece of artistry. If you are only going to see it once and want to see it in the best way possible, IMAX 3D is where it’s at. However, Tolkien book fans, I’m afraid we’re all pretty much going to agree that this one kinda sucks.

I gave the film a 3 1/2 on Flixster, mostly for the artistry. The first was a 5, for everything. That, and the collective gasps, sighs and general noises of irritation that filled the theater at the end of The Desolation of Smaug pretty much sums it all up.

Additional gripes which are spoilers:

Gandalf going into Dol Guldur by himself – worst CGI of the film and people, please. Gandalf is smarter than that.

Tauriel and Kili. I just can’t. The whole idea of it still blows my mind as horrendously stupid that I still have a hard time finding the right words to express my extreme displeasure. 

The dwarves and Bilbo summoning their inner masochistic Latin dudes and trying to take down Smaug all by themselves (for real! Or fake, because it’s completely made up). They’re supposed to be smarter than that too. At least, much smarter than trying to kill a fire-breathing beast with liquid gold. I mean, really? The creature has fire INSIDE of him. Tell me again why you think you can somehow scald him to death?

Thought so.


  1. Thanks for the review! I haven't been up to date with the hobbit, but I'll sit down to watch all of it one day! A little bit off tangent but, Evangeline Lilly was great in Lost! Have a lovely Christmas! ^_^

    1. Thanks for stopping by! Yes, you must. I hear that she's fantastic there. I'll have to go watch at least some of it just for her. Merry Christmas to you!!

  2. Hello! :)
    I'm a big Tolkien fan too, I love the books. Anyway, I'm sorry you didn't like The Desolation of Smaug as much as the first Hobbit movie. It sounds like you really love the book and I can only imagine your disappointment! Personally, I loved it. I agree with you that a lot more liberties were taken with the story of The Hobbit in Desolation of Smaug than were in the first hobbit movie, but I think the changes fit pretty well. Though the romance between Tauriel and Fili was was not necessary and not in the books, and I don't think I would have missed it had it not been there, it didn't feel tacked on to me. I think they did a really good job with that part of the movie, and I love Tauriel. But that's just my opinion. :)
    Anyways, have a very happy new year!! :)

    1. True true! I like Tauriel too, I really do. I think the decision to put some girl power in was really smart and except for the romance, it totally works. It's a good film, no doubt about that, which is why I'm so divided on how much I like and hate it.

      Happy new year to you!!


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