Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Quick Take on The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug

       I saw the flick this afternoon. If you're a JRR Tolkien purist, you probably won't care for it — unless you're also a huge action fan and maybe a whitewater enthusiast. Peter Jackson has um ... Jacksonized the flick and turned it into a Lord of the Rings prequel that threatens the suspension of disbelief for the latter.  As a result, some of the best things about Hobbit 2 are also the things that also make it kind of dodgy.


     Visually it's a 3D-elight, if you decide to view it in that media. The movie opens with a dark orc chase that quickly gives way to a sun-filled, airy meadow, with bumblebees flittering around the screen.

      The Mirkwood elves' hangout. Of the three elf kingdoms, Mirkwood Hall is a little more decadent than Rivendell or Lothlorian. But it's also more tree-ier and looks more like a place you'd expect to see elves. (Did I really just type that?)

      Bilbo above the treetops. It's funny how such a simple scene was such a memorable passage, in the book.

      Bilbo and Smaug and Holmes & Watson. As UK tv's current Sherlock Holmes (and the most stylish man in the universe, since Bowie) Benedict Cumberbatch is making a lot of people his bitch these days. As Smaug, he gets outwitted by his Watson, Martin Freeman as Bilbo. Cute, huh?

    Gandalf gets attacked by formless, black smoke Sauron, who turns into Burning Slit Sauron as a result of Gandalf's defense spells (I think). 

    River Barrel Chase. As a kayaker, this may be the result of some bias on my part, but that looks like one badass run.



Not so much

    Legolas! I know, right? Orlando Bloom is always a welcome sight, but there's something that's just wrong about a scene with a Legolas that looks 10 years older than he was in the LotR movies, meeting Gloin, father of Gimli, several decades before LotR takes place.

    Mirkwood Spiders. That whole business was kind of a let down, compared to the book.

    The Sauron reveal is another instance where you wanna go, 'hey gee, cool,' before you wonder, if they knew this cat was out of the bag this early in the story, why didn't they start coming up with a Destroy Sauron plan much earlier?

   No emotional connection to the story. Or very little of it, anyway. There's an elf/dwarf (Legolas, Kili, and the newly introduced Tauriel) love triangle that got added into the mix, but even that doesn't seem to hold up as any kind of sweepstakes. Considering what we know of LotR, it's a safe bet Legolas is going to wind up single, anyway.

    Overall: It's a good popcorn movie; the craft that went into it was superb. On the down side, its soul is missing. You don't get the feeling the movie makers love these characters the way they did in Jackson's other Tolkien trilogy. When you consider that was a much shorter book, and it's getting three installments, you'd think someone would have taken a little more time for that.

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