Small Screen Comparision: The Hobbit: TDoS

The Hobbi: The Desolation Of Smaug - Header

Having already reviewed The Hobbit: The Desolation Of Smaug when I saw it last year in the cinema is seems a little foolish to write another review. And so, it seemed to make more sense, in the same way as I did for Gravity, to compare how the film transfers from the large screen to the small. And how that effects, improves or changes the viewing experience.

The first thing that really hit me, and it was surprising, as it hadn’t happen at all with the first film, or even the Lord of the Rings trilogy, was that on the smaller screen this film just lost all its impact. It felt cramped, it felt squeezed. It didn’t feel anything like the spectacle it had in the cinema. Whether, unlike previous outings was because this was the first of Peter Jackson’s JRR Tolkien films I was watching at home in 3D I don’t know, but it actually ruined the film slightly. This sense of compaction and loss of depth and connection to the film was so striking in the opening sequences that I did actually think at one point of getting up and changing it for the 2D version instead.

However, I persevered and left the 3D running and sadly, it never really improved. I remember at the time of seeing it in the cinema, while thoroughly enjoying it, also finding that a lot of the 3D looked gimmicky, fake and with a layer of “Magic Eye” to the effect that distorts your acceptance of reality and makes everything feel broken. And on the small screen this sense is just heightened. The depth problems, especially in the naturally cramped scenes – for instance inside Bard’s and Beorn’s houses – are so screamingly in your face that they instantly draw your eye away from the important action, from the narrative, and from the story as a whole.

And the problems with the 3D don’t stop there. It’s been a very, very long time since I’ve been watching a film only for the screen to turn blank, a spinning disc to appear and the horrific instruction to “insert disc 2” to appear on screen and yet, The Hobbit has managed to achieve this archaic feat. Something not even 3D version’s of Titantic or Avatar, both of which were longer, could achieve. Peter Jackson I salute you!

It’s not all bad news thought, because certain elements do transfer well, Smaug still looks stunning and you can see where the special effects budget for this film went. There are dragon’s and then there is Smaug. The scenes in the dark forests with the great spiders are brilliant and the world of the Silvan Wood Elves has the perfect balance of organic beauty and sinister corruption. But I still cannot forgive a blockbuster franchise, with the backing this has, in both financial and technological senses, being so up and down. You have Smaug looking so beautiful you wish he almost was real and yet, Dwalin the Dwarf looks constantly looks like he is wearing a flesh coloured swimming cap rather than a fellow sufferer of alopecia. Which is all the more bizarre as Graham McTavish who plays him is naturally bald anyway!

I can only finish this by saying that when I say the second instalment of the Hobbit’s story in the cinema, I was grabbed, entertained and enchanted by it. But second time around, at home on a smaller screen I could have easily walked away from it. Having lost that sense of occasion, the sense of power and strength, all that was left to take over where the problems. The destruction of scale and depth, the little flaws in the story. Annoyingly, unlike Gravity, which went from big screen to small in a way that changed the film, neither positively or negatively, but rather in a way that gave you a new experience, Bilbo’s journey will actually turn a lot of people off the film the transfer is that bad.

I am actually glad that I am not reviewing this for the first time, because based upon last night, as you can probably tell, my thoughts on the film have nose dived from the 9/10 I gave it only 5 months ago. Right now, I am actually very disappointed and almost wondering, almost questioning, whether I was too enthralled by the story first time around to be objective in my review. That’s how different the experience was.

The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug on 3D Bluray – 5 out of 10 stars (5 / 10)

Posted on by 5WC in Film, Opinion First Edition

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