Saturday, December 14, 2013

The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug [2013]

Okay, there are going to a lot of spoilers in this, so whenever you see This loud font, skip the paragraph. Unless you like spoilers, in that case, knock yourself out! :)
Okay, we've been waiting a whole dang year for the sequel to An Unexpected Journey, and now that it's finally here, how does it measure up?
I'll start with the bad, then the good, so that we can end on a positive note.

The Bad
A lot of CGI. I know that it's hard to do a fantasy movie without it, but I'd like if the sets were a little more real looking. You'd think that with such a huge budget, they'd be able to spring for some nice, big sets.

Also, the spiders. No, not the spiders themselves, because they were great, but the way that scene was done. I wish that they had kept in the part where Bilbo rescues the dwarves while taunting the spiders with a funny song. Yeah, it was a little cheesy, but not anymore so than the romance between Tauriel and Kili. Which brings me to my next gripe...

Why did there have to be a half-baked love triangle between Tauriel, Legolas, and Kili? Not like it didn't have it's moments, but it seemed a little strange. Plus there was a rather *ahem* crude comment which seemed a little out of place for Tolkein. I see that the romance plot benefited the main plot of the movie, but it wouldn't have to be there if they had stuck to the relatively simple plot of the book.

It seemed like the stuff from the book that they kept in were very rushed to make room for the things they were adding. Like Mirkwood. There weren't any chilling nights spent in terror of the creatures of the forest, or any business involving that river Bombur fell in, then was asleep for ages... Plus, no crashing the elves feast, either. They meet up with the elves during the spider part.

Spoilerificness Ahead! Read on, if ye dare!
The thing that bugged me the most about this movie though, was the way they did the Lonely Mountain bit. Bilbo doesn't even come out with any gold after first conversing with Smaug, instead the Dwarves come in, and there's a long fight scene that finishes out the movie. I was actually a little afraid that it would have the dwarves kill Smaug, because it ends with Thorin and Company dousing Smaug in liquid gold. Then of course, Smaug bursts out of it(How was he still alive? And don't say 'Because he's a magic dragon'), crashes out of the mountain, shakes off the still-liquefied gold(Well, maybe the gold is magic), and flies off to destroy Lake Town. Then the movie ends on a royal cliff-hanger. I felt like the action sequence here was kind of jumping the shark. Oh, and what was the deal with Gandalf and Sauron at the end?! Why do they always break the poor guy's staff?
Spoilers end here.

Beorn didn't get that much screentime either. He was there though, that's what counts I suppose.
The violence, too, got a little over the top. I mean really, we were getting into really cartoonish Orc-Killing Methods. Speaking of which, did I miss the part in the book about the Orcs chasing them?
I suppose by now I sound like a grumpy ol' purist. I suppose I am a purist, but I'd like to think that I can be well-humored company when I try hard enough.
Let's get onto the 'good', yeah?

The Good
Omigosh, Smaug looked terrific. He actually was quite frightening, (Well, not like I'll be having nightmares or anything, but I could totally see why he was feared), and the voice work was awesome. He sounded so fierce and evil, sounded just right. The scene where he and Bilbo were talking was also a definitely highlight of the film for me, even if it was staged a little differently.

Bilbo. He was great. His actor is so likeable in the part, I think that him and Benedict Cumberbatch as Smaug were the best performances in the film. Not to say the others weren't good either, I really like Balin, and Gandalf. Radagast also seemed a little less zany than in the previous film.

The music, as usual for a LOTR movie, was beautiful. The credits song was allright too, not as good as The Song of the Lonely Mountain from the last one, but still better than the cheesy theme song from the Cartoon version.

Despite what I said earlier about the sets being a little too digital, I have to admit that they did look stunning. Especially the inside of the Lonely Mountain, and Lake Town.

The Verdict: C
Well, I had a lot of fun watching it, but it just didn't seem 'Tolkien' to me.
The Hobbit is much lighter source material to work from than The Lord of the Rings, so yeah, maybe it doesn't have that sort of melancholy. But The Hobbit is a very charming, whimsical book. It's the kind of book that apologizes for the bad table manners of trolls. I didn't get that charm while watching the movie.
That being said (aren't I such a Puddleglum?), it was fun to see it, and the good parts were worth the parts that weren't that great. Because heck, it's just cool to see Smaug in a live-action adaptation. :D

So it's not the most faithful adaptation of a book ever, but it's not the worst adaptation of a book, either.

Hope you're having a good Advent!

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