Hobbit: Desolation of Smaug Review

Headed out to the theater to catch Hobbit 2: Desolation of Smaug yesterday in 3D. By myself. Because when you’ve got a baby, your options for theater viewing become narrower, and I really didn’t want to miss this one in theaters. I imagine that for most of you, this review is superfluous. You’ve already made your mind up about whether or not you’re going to see the film, and you’re mainly curious as to what I thought.

First, some context. I reviewed the first one a year ago, and I loved that one. If you look up “Target Audience for Hobbit Films” in the dictionary, you’ll see a picture of me right next to the definition. I look forward to every extra second Peter Jackson has to give me. I just love how he’s created the visual world that’s a riff on Tolkien’s literary one. The films just ooze with creativity and craftsmanship.

And so of course I loved this second installment. I really can’t wait until I can play all three extended Hobbits back to back and then dive into all three extended Lord of the Rings back to back. That’s who I am. Deal with it.

What’s to love about this movie? Loads. The action sequences are flat out incredible. Dwarves in barrels, Smaug, orc/elf fights. Fantastic stuff. And Smaug? Jaw dropping awesome. Fantastically realized and acted. Setting details are superb still–the way Laketown is so different from Mirkwood, which is so different from the Elfhome, which is so different from Erebor. And then there’s all the dwarf stuff. I loved how . . . dwarfish the film was. How the dwarves show their own approach to solving problems. Fun stuff.

That said, there are some things some people are going to get upset about. Some things that aren’t “canon.” You’ve got Legolas playing a fairly significant role here. Much more than the cameo I first expected. You’ve got Tauriel, the hot redheaded elf who’s completely new. Dwarf/Elf love triangles. Erebor action sequences. Orc character development.

Did it bother me? No. I challenge any fantasy fan who claims to hate this movie to go watch all 107 minutes of Dungeons and Dragons, and then come tell me just how awful Desolation of Smaug was. It’s an adaptation, folks. Things have to change. Accept that. Embrace it. Peter Jackson knows that.

The weakest part of the film would probably be the insistence it has on trying to stick to the book, honestly. Beorn is cool and all, but he’s relegated to more of an afterthought–as are the spiders of Mirkwood. They’re there, they’re nifty, but then they’re gone. The first third of the film feels breathless, and I wonder if there’s a much better edit waiting for me to watch in the extended version.

That said, once the movie hits Elf prison, it slows down and settles in for much better pacing. Though I have to add that if you’re expecting to see a certain climactic battle with Smaug at the end of this film, you’re not going to get quite what you think you will. And that’s as close to spoilers as I want to come.

I loved the film. 9 out of 10 for me. Have you seen it? What did you think?

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