Sunday, December 22, 2013

Movie Review: The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug

A bit of book-keeping first, as people have probably seen I have finally gotten the ads working on the site, wohoo! So yes they're supposed to be there, nothing to be alarmed about. And I'm experimenting with the formatting of the reviews a little bit, I was never happy with how far you had to scroll down on the main page so I'm going to experiment around and see if I can find something I'm more happy with.

Alright down to the review, even thought I was rather grumpy with the first Hobbit film I was still a bit excited for this one, guess all of Peter Jackson's conditioning to make the world get overly excited whenever their's a new Tolkien film has worked. Funny enough I did hear recently that the extended edition of the first film actually works a lot better than the theatrical cut, explains a few things and the mood shifts work a little better. I'm not sure the same is going to happen to this film but I have to admit I am curious about rewatching the first one now.

The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug

Summary: Biblo, Gandalf, and the company of dwarves continue their trek westward to The Lonely Mountain where the dwarves plan to oust Smaug and regain their ancestral home, or at least retrieve proof of Thorin's kingship. Things don't go as planned however when Gandalf has to leave to deal with a growing threat in the east and they face opposition from all they come across but slowly they make their way to it and begin the final parts of their plan. 

The Good: I did enjoy this film more than the first one for no real concrete reason. It certainly also had problems, which I'll get to later of course, but somehow I just liked this one more. To articulate things I rather liked, Smaug is done well and rather surprisingly I like Tauriel. I'll admit I didn't really see her as being in a love triangle like most people online (and the actress herself) have said but I think that's because I can always tell where a story is going (ie, what the canon ship is going to be) and since the story was giving out incredibly strong hints that none of it would work out I just dismissed it. And guys, when you say "I didn't like her because we know it's going to be Legolas and Gimili's bromance in the end!" stop and think about what you just said, yeah you just said you don't like a female character because she "gets in the way" of a male friendship, that's an awkward thing to see people saying. I've also seen some people saying they don't like how The Hobbit is being turned into more of a LotR prequel than following the tone of the original story, which is true, but I disagree that this is entirely a bad thing. One thing I remember from the first time I heard the LotR story, and I came to the same conclusion when I reread it a few years ago, is that it always seems to come out of nowhere that "the war is over and the age of man has become, all other races shall fade away!" even knowing that the story has a lot of parallels to the then-ongoing WWII and how our world entered a bit of a different age then. Even knowing that it still seems to come out of nowhere but with these movies I start to get it. You hear the characters discussing how the green wood has become Mirkwood and see the elves closing their doors, I know how trying to retake The Lonely Mountain will go and can see from that what affect it'll have on the dwarves as a whole. Between this and seeing how the world had been in a stagnated, uncomfortable peace that was being broken by Sauron returning I can see how LotR wasn't just a war and a quest, it was about that and a changing world so, while I wish the movies were shorter, I can get what changes the writers have been making here.

The Bad: This movie is still entirely too long, while some of the new subplots are interesting they take too much time and most if not all of the major action sequences feel gratuitous (I'm reminded of a bit from the video diaries where they show them "releasing the computer people" from their overnight sleeping room and I wonder just how many of them really did sleep there to get this all done in time). That mostly sums up my complaints but it is a rather large one, the movie has actually woven in all the new subplots so tightly I'm not sure you could make a good fan-edit to cut the movie down (I'm willing to at least try) and it makes me more sure that while two Hobbit films would have been fine, possibly even necessary, three, especially three, two-and-a-half-hour ones, is entirely too much.  

The Production Values: I don't really have much to say about how the film looked and sounded aside from the fact that there were some bits where I felt like they turned the saturation down comically low in an attempt to make everything look more serious. It's much harder to talk about what a movie looks and sounds when you go in knowing exactly how it should, based on previous experience, and honestly it would actually be worse if I went in and then have tons to say since that would mean that the movie looked so much better or worse than the others that it would stick out whenever someone went back to rewatch them.

So I'm giving this movie a 3 out of 5, I did enjoy it more but it still has some serious filler and pacing issues which made me rather grumpy with it. I am looking forward to the last film though (and praying to the powers that be that it's not another two and a half hours, although at this rate I'd only be half surprised if that was the run time).