“The Hobbit – The Desolation of Smaug” – A Review

So, a couple nights ago the family and I went to see the new Hobbit film (#s of 314 episodes) by Peter Jackson. In case you haven’t read my review of the first installment, you can find it here.


That review is kinda negative


Let me just say, as I often have before, that Peter Jackson makes some of the most beautiful movies ever seen. Sure, one can argue that he has stupid-high-definition cameras and digital editing tools that can help him craft any blemishes out of his shots, or even create landscapes and worlds completely out of thin air.

But that’s not the point.

Other directors without these fabulous tools have pushed angle and lighting and makeup to their limits and created wonderfully beautiful bits of cinema. Jackson is just using the tools at his disposal to show us what’s in his head, what he wants us to see.

And it looks beautiful.

For the now-fifth time, Jackson immerses us in a vision of J.R.R. Tolkien’s Middle-Earth that is simply breathtaking. Static shots, wide shots, crane shots, flying shots: whatever he wants to do, he does, and we are lucky to be able to visualize the physical world these characters inhabit with such clarity.

Now, to the movie proper:

A lot of people have expressed problems with the new elf character, Tauriel, played by Evangeline Lily. I don’t, because it’s a minor expansion of one of a hundred elves that were present in the Wood-Elves’ kingdom. Yes, the “love-triangle” (such as it is) is a bit sappy, but I’m even willing to overlook that in light of the other, more extreme liberties that Jackson takes with my 3 hours.

There were no Orcs pursuing the Dwarves through Mirkwood. Once they escaped, there was no pitched battle between dwarf-laden barrels and Orcs on the riverbanks. No. In fact, the dwarves were sealed in the barrels by Bilbo prior to their escape, after which they floated gently away down the river, no muss, no fuss, and feeding the dwarves ever-more-respectful assessment of their burglar’s abilities.

Further, Jackson goes on to make Bard some sort of smuggler and secret rabble-rouser against the Master of Laketown. Thankfully, Jackson allows Bard to retain his genealogical position as the ancestor of the head guardsman who fault (and failed) against Smaug’s initial incursion so many years before. In reality, Bard is the Captain of the guard of Laketown, and held in high esteem.

I was glad to see that Jackson felt that the Black Arrow was important enough to keep in, and I even appreciated the added little touch of it being dwarf-forged, but, seeing as how Bard and his ancestors were expert BOWMEN, do we really need a replay of the fire-signal drama from The Two Towers through the insertion of the dwarven windlass? This weapon, perched high atop the tallest tower, where, I can only assume, we will be treated to a fifteen-minute sequence of Bard heroically scaling and battling his way to the top in an attempt to fire the last remaining black arrow into Smaug sometime in the eighth and final installment of the film?

Finally, and perhaps worst of all, is the fact that Jackson, for a reason known only to himself, chose to completely alter the most important section of the book: the entry of Bilbo into the Lonely Mountain and his discourse with Smaug. So simply and beautifully done by Tolkien, Bilbo enters alone, becomes invisible, and trades witticisms with Smaug as he searches for a weakness. He is finally undone by one comment, and crashes out of the Lonely Mountain to punish the men of Laketown.

Jackson, for some reason known only to him and whoever his pot-dealer is, decides to insert a ridiculous, slapstick, arkenstone-cops chase scene between the dwarves (who never actually enter the mountain until Smaug leaves), including a Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom-esque minecar sequence, followed by a mind-numbingly stupid sequence involving casting, then destroying, a monstrously large gold statue.

Finally, having interpreted Bilbo’s off-hand titling of himself as the “barrel-rider,” Smaug exits the Lonely Mountain to attack the men of Laketown, who he assumes has sent Bilbo to steal his horde.

As the dwarves and Bilbo see Smaug flying off into the night on his way to destroy Laketown, Bilbo can only ask “what have we done?” as Jackson cuts to black, forcing us to digest this retarded hash of a film that should rightfully have been called Peter Jackson films all of Tolkien’s Supplemental Material while we wait for episode 14.

“What have you done, indeed, Peter Jackson?”


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