Saturday, 14 December 2013

The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug

Same as last year, I didn't really get excited for the new Hobbit film until it was just about to come out. We've been to Middle Earth plenty of times before and you kind of know what to expect in terms of the tone and style of the film. So it was unfortunate that The Desolation of Smaug did nothing for me in terms of bringing me back to a world that I love to watch on screen. At least An Unexpected Journey brought me back into the world that I loved in way that gave me goosebumps as soon as I saw The Shire and heard the heartwarming music. This film however, feels more like a tribute to the world of The Lord of the Rings rather than being an extension of the mythology. It's the middle of the trilogy and that is exactly what the film feels like, a middle, it doesn't really have a beginning or an end. It's just a bit boring. Apart from the dragon, the dragon is awesome!

The second film in The Hobbit trilogy picks up with Bilbo and the Dwarfs as they travel to Erebor to reclaim their homeland from the dragon Smaug. A few things happen along the way, all action packed, but everything is sorted out pretty quickly, that's about it really. Directed again by Peter Jackson, who obviously has a love for the book his films are based on, so much so he is the first person we see in the film, but he also has to learn when to let go of something and stop dragging it out... into three films. Lets just say he is suffering from something I would like to call George Lucas syndrome. Lets see why.

Although the film is still titled The Hobbit, Bilbo isn't really the main character of the film. Actually there isn't really a main character of the film, Bilbo feels more like 'just one of the dwarfs' and we see a little bit of everybody else like Thorin, Gandalf and Kili and those other dwarfs, like the fat one and the stupid one and the old one. We get a little bit of Legolas as well, he wasn't in the books but his part is pretty cool although by the end it feels like he's outstayed his welcome. A new character is introduced, Tauriel, a female Elf who has been chucked in to the very male dominated sequel. Evangeline Lilly plays her well but like most women in film at the moment, her character is more of a half hearted love interest that sets up a love triangle between her, Legolas and Kili. Yes that's right, Kili. She does kick a lot of ass though. Another new addition to the cast is Luke Evans as Bard. Acting wise though everybody is just as good as the last outing, but none of the characters are ever given enough time to shine.

The first act of the film is the worse though, we are chucked back into the story pretty much straight away in an uneven and sometimes poorly edited opening. Everything feels a bit rushed, which is weird for a film that lasts for 2 and a half hours! It does get better though, but not by much. The middle part still feels oddly dragged out and boring until the final act where things get a lot better but then it just ends. It ends in a way that would be great for penultimate episode of a TV show, but Game of Thrones this is not. We are not waiting a week to see the finale, we are waiting a whole year! I have read the book and I can see many better places to end the film, especially with The Battle of Five Armies that is going to make up most of the third film. Don't get me wrong, There and Back Again is going to epic in spectacle but I cannot see it being anymore then a war film, I hope I'm wrong.

The soundtrack is obviously just as good as the last but certain pieces play at the most obvious of times and that makes you wonder if Jackson thinks we're stupid, as if we can't tell that this bit is supposed to be happy or this is bit is supposed to be sad. I know this is what soundtracks are for but in this case it feels forced and cheesy. And while we are on the subject of cheesy, you know those cliche moments in films where it looks like your heroes are about to lose then all of a sudden somebody comes and saves them? Well this happens in the film, a lot. So much so that it gets really annoying after you've seen it for the tenth time. 

Then there's the CGI. There is loads of it and it most of the time it looks out of place. The barrel sequence you see in the trailer is one of the best examples as it is so obvious when real footage is being used and when CGI takes its place, everything just looks a bit out of place. And whenever the big white Orc turns up he looks like something out of a video game. When the Orcs are real people with make-up and prosthetics it really looks good, they come across as a lot more menacing because they look real! There is also a lot of violence against the Orcs that really do push the boundaries of the 12A certificate. I have no problem with it but it is sure to be controversial, especially with the latest study that found more gun violence in 12A's than in any other film certificate.

The best thing about this film was the dragon Smaug. He looked incredible, now he was a CGI creation that truly looked magnificent. In fact I would go as far as saying that he is probably the best dragon ever to grace our screens. Benedict Cumberbatch is perfect in the role and he not only voiced the creation but did motion capture for some of the screens. As soon as we get to Smaug in the film it is awesome. If the whole film had been as good as the scenes with Smaug it would have been an easy 5/5 film. But unfortunately, this film won't be getting that score from me and it is unfortunate because I loved the previous film and The Lord of the Rings trilogy.

The Desolation of Smaug  was a CGI overloaded film, with bad pacing and direction. The film felt like a dragged out middle chapter with no beginning or end. I'm surprised at the critics reception to this film, with many heralding it as better then the first film, for me it is not, in any way. But that's just my opinion. I am giving the film a rating of 2.5/5. The .5 was added because Smaug was so awesome. The final film better be good!

Judging from first reactions I am obviously in the minority when it comes to my opinion on the film, so let me know what you thought of it in the comments below. Do you agree or completely disagree with me?

Thanks for reading!

1 comment:

  1. While it needed to be longer, I still felt like this was a nice enough sequel where we at least get more tension within the story, and feel like it's actually moving somewhere. Good review Alex.


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