The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug

Director: Peter Jackson

Starring: Ian McKellan, Martin Freeman, James Nesbitt, Orlando Bloom, Evangeline Lily, Richard Armitrage, Lee Pace, Benedict Cumberbatch

Rated: PG-13 (extended sequences of intense fantasy action violence, and frightening images)

 

The dwarves, along with Bilbo Baggins and Gandalf the Grey, continue their quest to reclaim Erebor, their homeland, from Smaug. Bilbo Baggins is in possession of a mysterious and magical ring.

 

The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug

By Cole Schneider

“The Hobbit” should be retitled, “The story with a bunch of characters, one of which is a hobbit.” Peter Jackson has ditched any character development and has replaced it with tension-less action sequences. Maybe that’s because none of the focal characters are particularly interesting. The film has Thorin, Gandalf, Legolas, and Bard among others fighting with the hobbit Bilbo for screentime. Yet it’s Bilbo that remains the only point of interest in the whole story. Bilbo has an interesting story to tell, it’s a shame that everyone else keeps getting in the way.

There are many distractions: a giant bear-man shows up for a scene in a role that only makes sense if he is reprised, Sauron himself appears in a moment that gives Tolkien fans reason to walk out of the theater, and a needless love triangle develops. These three things alone could have been cut and the result would have been a normal-length film whose focus is on the titular and only remaining interesting character.

A bad score, poor dialogue, a hyper-kinetic camera, and many other things contribute to the films own desolation, but the most distracting element of the film is it’s CGI. Jackson’s Middle Earth films have increasingly gotten away from practical effects, but this is a joke. It looks and plays out like a video game. Still, Smaug, the dragon that both Hobbit films have been leading up to, is an impressive beast and like Bilbo’s interaction with Golem in the first Hobbit, the meeting between Bilbo and Smaug here is certainly worth watching.

Rating: 1 out of 5 stars.

 

The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug

By Matt Greene

Each decade Hollywood gives us a middling series of prequels to a cultural phenomenon, and the innate problem with prequels is our lack of surprise because of the knowledge of the fate of the characters. The latest Hobbit isn’t immune to these problems, but at least its prequels are more successful than others (ahem…Star Wars), and it’s difficult to deny the pull this world has on my attention. Jackson’s fabulous realization of Middle Earth, the impressive spectacle, and fun set pieces are enough to recommend this otherwise misguided and overlong epic.

Like the other Middle Earth movies, “Desolation…” is essentially a road trip movie in which nothing is easy and every turn is filled with a ubiquitous “darkness”. The themes of power and pride are still potent, but other than a few moments of much-needed humor, the dialogue is mostly either expositional and boring, or completely pointless and boring. On top of that, it is filled with drive-you-crazy moments of cheesy happenstance coincidences. However, the casting is strong as ever, especially  Bilbo, Gandalf, Thorin, and the perfectly realized Smaug. Even if most of these characters are too often either quiet or totally absent in this chapter, their presence is still felt and needed.

The biggest problem is the editing; not because of the length, but just to trim the fat a bit (a love triangle? Really?)  But honestly, reviews are pointless. You are either going to see these films or you aren’t; fans will like them, haters won’t. For me, there is enough to like in this world to keep me coming back for more…but barely.

Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

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