I have a confession to make: Novels, as a medium, don’t particularly interest me. When it comes to reading fictional stories, imagination is a key component to recognizing what takes place over the narrative. While I can visualize ideas in my head, attempting to do so with an entire story can get me sidetracked rather quickly. I’m much more adapted to a visual medium, where the images are played out right in front of me.
As such, I have not read many great novels or books. This includes all the works of J.R.R. Tolkien and his work with “The Lord Of The Rings” and “The Hobbit.” I’m not opposed to the idea of ever reading such fantastic stories, just that I’m hesitant to do so.
My only exposure to the world of Middle Earth has been through Peter Jackson’s ongoing film series, and only recently at that. Over this last summer did I finally sit down to watch “The Lord Of The Rings” trilogy, and it immediately impressed me with its scale and scope of story, hooking me through opening narration alone.
“The Hobbit: The Unexpected Journey” was the first film in Peter Jackson’s newest trilogy and attempt to bring Tolkien’s other well-known work to life. My complaint with the film is there are many elements that go nowhere and don’t add much of anything to the film, such as every scene with Radagast. Jackson did a wonderful job trimming the unnecessary parts of “The Lord Of The Rings” novels, such as anything dealing with Tom Bombadil. The same cannot be said for his newest film series.
The next part in that trilogy, “The Hobbit: The Desolation Of Smaug” is more of the same as the first film: A grand sense of adventure, filled with many diverse characters as they face a perilous journey across an unforgiving land where they will face down a foe that all men fear, the mighty dragon, Smaug.
What I enjoyed more about the second film than its predecessor was how it gave more the cast of twelve dwarves their own character. In the first film, many of the dwarves were interchangeable and by the end of the film I had forgotten nearly all of their names, let alone their personalities. While in this film, they take the time to develop certain dwarves, showing off their strengths and the reasons why they were brought on this journey.
Kili (Aidan Turner) shows his strength through his determination to completing the mission even after taking a poisonous arrow to the leg, while his brother Fili (Dean O’Gorman) demonstrates his devotion and love towards his family by giving up such a marvelous adventure to protect his sick kin. The elder of the group, Balin (Ken Scott) seems wise beyond his years and would rather remain peaceful, preferring to resolve matters through words.
But Orcs don’t take kindly to anything that doesn’t involve putting heads on pikes, so he decides to be crafty instead.
Moments like these really make the characters stand out amongst others and really makes you appreciate the film slowing down to develop them and to make us care about their journey.
However, much like the first film, Jackson seems to indulge himself way too much in his craft and puts in parts that don’t serve any purpose in the story. These types of scenes would work great in an extended cut for the DVD/Blu-Ray release, but not for a theatrical release.
For example, many of the scenes involving the elves just serve as a distraction from the journey of the dwarves. Ask yourself: What do these scenes accomplish? What do they tell us that don’t already know? Honestly, it is a hard question to answer.
Does this mean I feel most of the elf scenes should have been cut? Yeah. They not only exist for their own sake, but are merely fan-service. In particular, moments with Legolas (Orlando Bloom). I don’t know about you, but Legolas was my least favorite character in the original trilogy, because he is so perfect and infallible that he becomes boring. You know that he’ll walk out of any situation without so much as one hair out of place that it removes all tension and drama from the sequence.
Nearly all scenes containing Legolas in this film are about him kicking copious amounts of Orc carcass. It may be exciting to watch a CGI-Orlando Bloom flail around the screen, but when you know that he’ll make it without even breaking a sweat, what’s the point?
This isn’t the case for all action sequences in the film though. In a later scene, the team of dwarves are floating down a river in barrels and being shot at by Orcs. There is little that the dwarves can do, and you really feel their helplessness and will to survive. They devise creative ways to handle their opponents and this makes for one of the best sequences in the whole film.
That is “The Hobbit: The Desolation Of Smaug” in a nutshell: While it may feel like an extended cut filled with fan-service, there are moments of great creativity and brilliance, especially when it focuses on the character moments of the dwarves.
If you liked the first film, then you’ll certainly like this one. If you didn’t care for “The Hobbit: The Unexpected Journey” then this one will not change your mind on the series.
Final Grade: B-
Categories: Movie Reviews