The Lord of the Rings… Probably one of the most important film franchises of the current era. Under the direction of Peter Jackson, the franchise took filmmaking into whole new realms as it took us on a grand journey from The Fellowship of the Rings to The Return of the King. Needless to say, if you are a fan of movies and have not yet seen the three films, then you need to set aside a whole day (believe me it will take that long), watch it, and enjoy… The Hobbit on the other hand, if it will be remembered at all, will be remembered as a film franchise cashing in on the fact that you can put Peter Jackson behind the camera, Ian McKellan as Gandalf on-screen, and spend $225 million dollars knowing you will earn that money back within the first two weeks. I feel like the term ‘cash in’ is a bit harsh of a term. It carries some pretty negative connotations behind it, in particular alluding to the movie being terrible. Though I feel like the term applies here. While The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug may not be a ‘bad movie’, it is certainly a ‘cash in’ and a one and done affair.
The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug is the continual story of Bilbo Baggens (Martin Freeman), Gandalf (Ian McKellan), Thorin Oakenshield (Richard Armitage), and their quest to reclaim the dwarven treasure stolen by the dragon Smaug after he destroyed the city of Erebor. The story follows the questing dwarves as they are hunted through the land by marauding orcs who are under the command of The Darkness. There travels led them through Mirkwood where they are captured by wood elves lead by none other than Legolas himself (Orlando Bloom). The story then follows the questing dwarves and the thief hobbit as they attempt to escape from Mirkwood and find their way to the mountain to defeat Smaug.
It is Entertaining and Has that Old Lord of the Rings Feel
Just like LoTR… You can watch this movie and be entertained. I might not enjoy the misuse of CGI or the way the film ended. But there was never a moment watching the film that I was extremely agitated or bored. It is an easy watch and the action when it does happen is very cool. I loved the fight with Smaug and the whole conversation he and Bilbo shared in the film. The acting is really well done and it is needless to say that the LoTR Universe is one of the most immersive worlds you will ever come across. Not to mention, just watching Orlando Bloom and Ian McKellan reprise their roles in a new story is always a welcome sight.
Yep this film is a certifiable CGI whore. Now, it isn’t the worst offender and in all honesty this isn’t a terrible thing… But it sure as shit isn’t a good thing. They did not reach eye gouging levels by CGIing things like sweat or blood that I could tell. But you could tell there were several scenes that were in the film to just say, ‘HEY look what we can do with this!’ Most notable being Bilbo sticking his head over the treeline of the forest. With pretty blue CGI birds flying over the CGI surface… It gets a little grating on my nerves from time to time.
The Lord of the Rings is a film series that lends itself to CGI… There is just things that cannot be done without CGI and a lot of it is in this Lord of the Rings universe. But at least in the original series it did not distract me from the film itself or the scenes that were created purely from CGI were not there just to say ‘look how pretty we made this!’
The Bad Habit of Having a Middle Movie Cliffhanger (Spoilers)
This happened with Catching Fire and I just sort of dismissed it, knowing that Mocking Jay was around the corner. But after seeing the end of this movie. I realize that there is a nasty little pattern that is starting to form in the film industry and that is ending movies (in particular the second movie) on a complete cliffhanger, setting itself up for the third movie… Yeah nobody likes this. At all. It is like waving a middle finger in the faces of all the people who paid money to see this movie saying ‘HAHA Guess you got to watch the third movie to see what happens! Give us money you fucking peasants!’
I can give Catching Fire a little slack because I’m not really sure how you could end that movie in anything other than a cliff hanger. But for this movie… There are so many other ways they could have ended this besides doing what they did. In the film, they finally defeat Smaug by covering the SOB in liquid gold. But of course this only serves to piss him off as he flies off to wreak untold havoc on Lake Town. The final scene is Smaug flying towards it as Bilbo watches helplessly. Now granted, everyone knows this film is going to have a third film… There is too much set up for there not to be. But that doesn’t mean you have to end it with Smaug flying towards the damn city, thus ending on what feels like the rising action of the story.
When Star Wars did The Empire Strikes Back they set up plenty for the third film. Luke and Vader, Han Solo being captured, and so on and so forth… BUT they did end it. This is the equivalent if Empire Strikes Back ended with Boba Fett taking off from Bespin and Stormtroopers firing at the heroes as they watch helplessly as the ship flies away. I do not mind if you set your films up for a sequel, but at least have a very clear conclusion to your film while you set yourself up.
This can be said about the pacing of the whole film franchise. The Hobbit is a great story, one of the greatest of all time. But man, it does not need to be stretched into a three movie epic. This film could have been finished in a single movie, two movies if they did not want to cut a lot of the material. This greatest criticism of this film is that nothing really happens of much significant. This film is 161 minutes long and I can sum it up in the following sentence; They run to a cabin, they go to a forest, they get captured by elves, they take a Barrel Disney Ride to a boat, boat goes to Lake Town, They go fight Smaug, and Smaug doesn’t die and flies to village. That is the movie!
GRANTED, you could do this about a lot of movies, turning it into a one sentence long exposition. But at least with other films something more is accomplished in between. With the exception of a love story between the elf Tauriel (Evangeline Lilly) and Kili (Aiden Turner) I feel like nothing else substantial was accomplished. Just going from thing to thing to thing to fill up two and a half hours and putting a few battles in between to spice things up.
I do expect more out of a movie that is in the same universe as The Lord of the Rings and directed by Peter Jackson. I expect a little more character development and a grandiose feeling of the events transpiring. Instead I find myself sitting there watching action happen just to appease the audience at large and without a single notable character death, I feel like nothing is at stake.
On the whole, the film is pretty disappointing. I expect a lot more from Peter Jackson and the Lord of the Rings Universe. There is a gross misuse of CGI, it doesn’t end well, and it feels like nothing is really accomplished through two-thirds of the film. However, it is still an entertaining watch. The actors do a fantastic job, there are some funny moments, and the action when it does happen is intense, and on par with this films predecessors. It isn’t terrible, but it isn’t the end of the world if you miss it.
Final Score 2/5
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