A quick sidenote: I have been thinking about some of my previous reviews and have realized that I’ve been a little too lenient on the grading, so expect some more “reasonable” reviews. I changed three scores: The Hobbit to a 75, and the two Hunger Games reviews got bumped down a point. Just thought I’d let you guys know.
The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug was a movie I was not looking forward to. The first one was such a disappointment and such a waste of time that I was ready to give up on the Hobbit trilogy then and there. However, the trailers for this one looked a lot better. I also figured I might as well finish what I started and just write reviews on the whole trilogy so you’re all welcome.
Martin Freeman returns as Bilbo Baggins and this one was centralized on him like the first one should have been. If you recall, I thought one of the major flaws of the first one was that Thorin played more of a lead role than our main character did, stealing the spotlight away from the story we were supposed to be hearing. It wasn’t a slight to Thorin’s character or actor Richard Armitage. He did a good job and I acknowledge that. I feel the blame fell more on the writers’ shoulders because they failed to make any real character connection with Bilbo nor did they really give Martin Freeman the opportunity to prove himself as an actor.
This one does not make the same mistake a second time, broadening Bilbo’s character and making us appreciate him as a person as well as getting to know who he is. He’s timid and yet has a courageous side that the audience can rally behind.
Despite the improvements on Bilbo’s character, I still find it lacking in some areas. I know him better than I did in the first one but I still have unanswered questions regarding his character. One of the big ones: what is causing him to continue to go forward on this journey? I know at the beginning he talks about wanting to go on an adventure and I get that. A lot of people today want to go on an adventure and have a day like no other. A day where they can do something heroic and do it for the right reasons, or a day where they can step up to something they know is wrong and do something about it. However, despite an everyday person’s want to do something like this, most people have these opportunities pass them by, because things hold them back, whether it’s fear, judgment or something else entirely. The person who has a chance to make a difference meets obstacles and rarely are they willing to make the leap of faith to get over them in order to get a chance to make that difference. They would rather that chance just jump in their lap and make it an easy ordeal, but that’s not how life works. That’s why whenever someone does a selfless act they are so highly praised for it because not only did they talk the talk, but they walked the walk.
I want to feel the same way for Bilbo, except that I’m not convinced of his motive. He’s had many chances to turn back. Why hasn’t he? I feel like that question hasn’t been answered yet. Perhaps the writers are saving that answer for the big finale but I feel it causes the current product to falter.
Thorin plays a good secondary role once again and while I still don’t know most of the dwarfs’ names, I feel like I know the niche they are supposed to fill.
The action series reached a new intensity and dynamic in this one, another element that was lacking in the first. Of course, when you have Legolas and the Wood Elves showing off incredible archery skills, it’s hard to not be entertained.
Among some of the mishaps in this film, Gandalf leaves the fellowship within the first half hour in order to perform an individual endeavor that also seems to lack any logical output, something I’ll discuss in the spoiler’s edition. The conclusion is acceptable if not predetermined. I feel everyone saw the ending coming from leagues away.
Once again, if you’re new to my blog, I’ve always ranked movies on a scale of 0-100 (I don’t know why, I just always have). Here’s the grading scale.
90-100 It’s a great movie and definitely one worth buying. (Iron Man 3, World War Z, 42, Just Go With It, Real Steel)
80-89 It was a pretty good movie and definitely one worth seeing, but it doesn’t quite scratch my top ten percentile. (The Truman Show, The Hunger Games, The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, Gangster Squad, Elf)
70-79 It’s okay but I’ve seen better. It has its moments, but it has its flaws, too. (The Usual Suspects, 21 Jump Street, Escape Plan, Captain America: The First Avenger, Dawn of the Dead)
60-69 It’s got plenty wrong with it but I still got enjoyment out of this one. (Pacific Rim, The Long Kiss Goodnight, Disaster Movie)
50-59 This movie isn’t intolerable but it’s not blowing my mind either. I’m trying really hard to get some sort of enjoyment out of this. (Along Came Polly, Aliens, Alien Resurrection, Full Metal Jacket, Thor)
40-49 This movie is just mediocre. It’s not doing anything other than the bare minimal, so morbidly boring that sometimes I’m actually angry I watched this. (Patriot Games, The Great Gatsby, Pitch Black, Alien)
30-39 Definitely worse than mediocre, the 30’s ironically define the 1930’s, full of depression, lack of accomplishments, poverty and just so dumb. (The Contract, Pride and Prejudice)
20-29 What did I just watch? Cliches, stupidity, nothingness, did I mention stupidity? Just…wow. (The Sum of All Fears, Thor: The Dark World)
0-19 Watching this movie resulted in one or more of the following: seizure, loss of brain cells, falling asleep/unconsciousness, feel you wasted your time/day, accomplished nothing for you, left the movie knowing less about it then you did going into it, constantly asking yourself why you came to see this movie, or near-death experience. In short, staring at a wall was just as entertaining as watching this movie. This movie deserved a sticker or a label that said, “WARNING: EXTREME AMOUNT OF SUCKAGE.” (Midnight Cowboy, Dark Fury, Alien 3)
My score for The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug: 84.
A large improvement from where it started, The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug makes appropriate strides of improvement for a sequel, but it still lacks some and leaves the audience wanting more.
*SPOILER ALERT* IF YOU DON’T WANT THE MOVIE SPOILED, STOP READING!!!
There are still portions of this movie that could have been cut and at times, it’s still obvious that Jackson is drawing this story out a lot more than it needs to be. Why there was an insistence to make a 300-page book into a trio of three-hour movies when the Lord of the Rings made a trio based on three 400-page books, I don’t know. It doesn’t make sense, especially when I could probably read through a 300-page book in half the time it takes to watch nine hours of film, if not less.
Among the things that could have been eliminated to shorten this:
1. The film starts with Thorin going to the Prancing Pony in Bree a year before the journey ever started. Gandalf meets him there, tells him someone’s trying to have him killed and oh, by the way, it’s time to obtain the Arkenstone.
2. It then shoots to present time showing Gandalf and the dwarves evading Azog and the Orc party, eventually coming to the house of Beorn for shelter, staying one night and taking his horses in the morning, meaning the only need-to-know point of that whole encounter was to get horses so they can run across a valley and get to a dark forest and Gandalf can skip out on them. Why couldn’t we just start at the forest shortly before Gandalf leaves them and just narrate “shortly after borrowing horses from a friend”?
3. Why is Gandalf abandoning the group? So he can obey a telepathic message from Lady Galadriel and investigate the tombs of the Nazgul. That makes sense but what if they all just broke out and then Gandalf arrives? Gandalf can’t fight all nine at once. Why couldn’t they send someone less important, like the Brown wizard or a talking bird or something? After finding all the Nazgul are gone, Gandalf goes to Dol Guldur and before entering says he “knows it’s a trap”. If you know it’s a trap then why are you going in? I know you’re really powerful and all, but once again, is there someone less important we can send instead or better yet, more people we can send to back you up, like a nine-man team or something, so the mission has at least a small chance of success? It doesn’t help that you know the size of the Orc army when you’re locked in a cage, forced to watch as they go to kill all your friends. Questionable decisions there, Gandalf.
How does Smaug fail to kill any of the dwarves in their whole skirmish in the mountain? He’s huge and can breathe fire and the dwarves are fat and slow. He also seems to be dumb because he manages to light the forges for the dwarves, the forges being the only formidable weapon that the dwarves had against Smaug and then he stupidly walks up to a statue of molten lava. I don’t mean to be insensitive, but I’m pretty sure at least one party member would have died in all that mess.
Finally, Thorin and the dwarves look for the keyhole to the door to the mountain for all of five minutes before giving up. Really? You’ve traveled all this way to give up in five minutes? Why were Bilbo and I the only two people smart enough to wait and see if anything happened when the moon came out, since it’s called moonlight and would technically be the last light of the day? Then Bilbo calls for the dwarves to come back, no one responds, he looks for the key, kicks it and Thorin pops out of mid-air to pin the key to the edge of the cliff with his clan right behind him. What? No. That does not happen.