Film Review: The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug

Peter Jackson returns with the 2nd helping of The Hobbit. The Desolation of Smaug. I really enjoyed the first film, and dear I say it, I actually enjoy the plot and story of The Hobbit more than the Lord Of The Rings trilogy. However, Mr Jackson’s decision to use all source material – whether through a dedication and love to the world created by JRR Tolkien, or a cynical marketing ploy to stretch and pad the timeline to such an extent he can edit it into three films is for another debate.

However, Smaug the magic dragon puff’s his way brilliant back onto our big screen. As it’s the “middle movie” we don’t need character set up, karaoke night at the local all you can eat or a reintroduction to middle earth. We simply need and get “Action!”.

As a result, this film has a cracking pace to it and doesn’t feel as long as it is. The first film did at times drag. Badly. Smaug flaps its wings and compared to a lot of things I’ve watched recently, kept me totally gripped. Yes it’s not the deepest, emotional story ever to come to the big screen. But you need to remember it’s a children’s book. A bloody good children’s book, that through love and care is fast becoming a good adult’s film. Trilogy.

Right, time for the bad bits. You do, however, while watching a single film feel as though you are in the middle of a story. And for no real reason. I actually think that with a bit of concise editing they could have cut it down to two films and still kept the story faithful to the original text. There are times when you want part 3 now. The pace keeps the film gripping and drags you into middle earth and the enjoyment that goes with it, but you can’t help but feel that this is a story that’s just filling in time. You become totally engrossed, time just flies by and just as I was thinking “keep going, keep going, don’t stop, I don’t want to leave middle earth” boom the trailers roll.

Also, I saw it in 3D. I saw the first one in 3D last year, and while I then watched it again on 2D Blu-ray, I thought let’s once again treat myself at the cinema to the full 3D experience. My gut reaction has changed to how I feel about the 3D/2D debate from the first film. It’s good it 3D, it works, the computer generated scenery/sets are stunning, but it never really adds to the film. You don’t feel like it’s making it special or that it was really worth the extra money.

But I’m sure, watching it in 2D, exactly as I felt after the first film, you’ll feel that, even though the film is enjoyable and watchable you weren’t quite getting the full experience. I think that watching a film shot for 3D in 2D is like going for a swim and then staying in the shallow end – it’s fine but it’s never quite there.

My biggest issue with The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug is with some of the special effects though. Things just don’t line up. Smaug looks stunning and is a work of art, and yet his haul of gold looks like it’s been borrowed from the upcoming lego movie. There are then times when backdrops to a scene look almost like we have returned to the old out of focus painted sheet behind the actors and then others it’s crystal clear CGI.

And scaling. Smaug seems to grow and shrink in size and stature in compression to the dwarfs and hobbits around him at will. Don’t let this put you off though. I came out of second instalment of The Hobbit, disappointed, not because of the points I’ve just been through, but because it’s another 12 months of waiting before I can finish the story.

9 out of 10 stars (9 / 10)

Posted on by 5WC in Film First Edition

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