Just in case you have noticed, I usually do Speculative Fiction reviews on Saturday, but I forgot. There, I said it, and I even promised that I would review this film. I feel bad, because I’m going to give this next movie a mixed review.
This is my feeling on The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, which covers the rest of the Hobbit prequel trilogy, so far. It feels like Peter Jackson is doing the same thing as George Lucas. That is, once the landmark trilogy has been made and name made, make a prequel trilogy that is of lesser quality. I feel no reason to make any Jar-Jar related comments about Episode I with the new Hobbit trilogy.
As it is, I liked The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey. The reason why is because I felt that Peter Jackson bought the magic of The Lord of the Rings back, but it just isn’t the same. Maybe it is because there are just some things that you just can’t bring back to their original glory.
I will have to question the method that The Hobbit was brought to the screen. I know everyone has said this, but it seems odd that each of The Lord of the Rings books was made into a 3-hour movies with source material that was 300-500 pages per book. And yet The Hobbit is being made into three movies. This is quite similar to the habit of franchises like Twilight, Harry Potter, and now The Hunger Games to put the last book into two movies.
Personally, I think there is a lot to be said by spreading out a book into a few movies, because it gives the film the opportunity to cover all the book’s nuances. The good thing about Tolkien’s Middle Earth is that there are a lot of things you can put in it if your source material is not enough to fill the length of a movie. I have heard that much of the stuff in The Hobbit movies have been taken from The Silmarillion, which is another Tolkien book.
I have the same feelings about the Hobbit movies as I do about most comic-book movies. That is, they pack them full of stuff from the source material so they are bursting with way too much plot and unnecessary characters. In the case of Desolation, it has Legolas. Legolas is not in the book, what is he doing here?
Another main concern with these Hobbit movies is they depend too much on computer generated effects. There is one scene in the film where the dwarves make an escape via barrels down a river. There is one scene where a barrel rolls and hits several orcs, and it looks just awesome, but it couldn’t be done without CG. One of the things that I liked about The Lord of the Rings films is how Peter Jackson used a lot of real costumes with miniatures along with CG to make the world really come to life in a realistic way. In The Hobbit series, it feels like a lot of the effects are done with CG, and it feels artificial. There are some exceptions, like this whole town on a river that feels like something they actual built.
Another mistake that Desolation makes is that characters seem to be living in a world of cartoon physics. I already mentioned a shot in the barrel escape, but there is a scene where an arrow is blocked with another arrow. I am totally serious about that. I actually took me a minute before I realized what happened, and how atrocious that would be. I mean, you really have to time that right. If you can shoot an arrow, could you not shoot the archer a half-second earlier? Talk about a close call.
Okay, I had a lot of negative things to say about about Desolation, but I have just as many negative things to say about The Two Towers. I think it is the weakest of the LOTR trilogy, but it still has very awesome scenes. The Two Towers also have scenes that are drawn out unnecessarily, and same with Desolation. I’ll give you a spoiler alert and say that scenes with the dragon are way drawn out.