December 14, 2013 · Print This Article

I have to unfortunately preface this review by saying yet another movie experience was ruined by fools addicted to their cell phones.  These were not even punk kids, but a middle-aged couple (woman in a wheelchair no less) flashing their phones out checking texts, especially during the end of the movie.  I had to ask them to stop several times and they still persisted.  Just disgusted by the absolute cell phone addiction in society.

It was not going to be a positive review of THE HOBBIT: THE DESOLATION OF SMAUG [2013] anyway, but it did not help to have my theater experience ruined.  I just saw a reviewer on IMDB call Peter Jackson’s Hobbit story a reimagining, and that has just greatly helped me put things in perspective.  This is the setup for the larger Lord of the Rings story that was just not present in the book version of The Hobbit.  Still, hinting at an elf-dwarf romance??

My criticisms are basically repeats of the ones from the first Hobbit movie, the action sequences are so beyond ludicrous in their complexity and danger that every character on screen would have zero chance of surviving.  One gets hit by a single arrow in the leg this time, that’s it.  It just makes the action have no consequence.

Gandalf continues to be the best character on screen in any movie.  SMAUG opens with a quiet flashback talk in Bree between Gandalf and Thorin.  What Jackson excels at is creating the world of Middle Earth from its look to its atmosphere.  Coming out of the rain in Bree, I could feel the cold and weariness Thorin must feel from seeing the visuals on screen.

The best scene in both Hobbit movies by far involved Gandalf in a direct clash with the dark power of the Necromancer.  On a narrow stone bridge, casting out his sphere of white light bombarded by the dark light of the Necromancer, that scene was pure fantasy and it delighted me.  I felt privy to a different world.

However, another Jackson weakness is when he cuts scenes.  Bilbo about to finally descend down a secret passage in the side of the Lonely Mountain to face the dragon, it was built up so well, boom, cut to Gandalf.  I would have liked to have let that Bilbo scene play out without interruption.

I was pleased finally when we got the first conversation between Bilbo and the dragon Smaug, with Bilbo bragging about being a Barrel Rider among other titles and Smaug letting him boast for awhile.  That was believable.  Smaug chasing around Bilbo and all the other dwarves and not even injuring a single one of them, preposterously unbelievable.

Then the movie just ends.  For readers of the book knowing the story, it is especially abrupt.  I was actually expecting at least 30 more minutes of movie!  Come next November I will rematch SMAUG in the unbreakable silence of my own home and relish seeing Gandalf do battle again, but I am sorry to say probably not much else.

UPDATE:  November 29, 2014

Rewatched SMAUG this evening and was not in unbreakable silence as I am currently homeless…but upon a second viewing I feel I liked SMAUG a bit better having been prepared for ludicrous action scenes.  I feel I picked up on a little more of the expanded LOTR universe being shown in the Hobbit movies that is not present or fleshed out in the book.  Still, I think it would be hard for Smaug to not kill a dwarf trying his best not to harm them moving around in tight quarters, never mind every one getting out without a scratch.  Despite all this, I am looking forward to THE BATTLE OF FIVE ARMIES, after all, the marketing was effective, it will be one last time in Middle Earth.


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