The Hobbit: Desolation of Smaug


Short Review: Tried not to hate it. There were some good parts, like when it stopped. You’re gonna see it anyway, though.

Long Review:

Before we get to the review of the movie, can I complain about something else for a bit? Thanks.

Anyone else pissed off that we have to watch commercials, before the trailers, before the movie?!  And these aren’t even the kick ass high budget commercials you see at the super bowl. No, they’re the same freekin’ one’s you see everyday on TV (or in my case, on Hulu, because I don’t have cable).

Here’s an interesting fact for you. Movie theaters don’t make money on the movie tickets. They break even. Don’t believe me? Go here.  So it's understandable that they might need to make extra money on the commercials before the trailors.

Just like gas stations, movie theaters make money on their concessions. So that fish you snuck in under your Santa Suit like Dan Aykroyd from Trading Places is not only kinda against the rules, but it’s also taking money away from your local theater and, therefor, the wages of those poor people that have to pick up all the crap you just dumped on the floor ‘cus, ya know, someone will pick up. Yeah, because you put it there. Jerk.


Ok, on to the movie.

If you don’t remember, I didn’t really like the first Hobbit either, and I’m not so fond of this one. Some people say this one was in some ways. Let me go on a rant for you. You’re welcome.

All movies have the same things to be critical about. Directing, acting, editing, visual direction (yes it’s different), boom mic holding (very important), and so on. And for the most part, Desolation of Smaug nails it on these. Directing is darn good (we know Jackson is a good director) and the acting is of course top notch, especially 2 time oscar nominated Ian McKellen. Martin Freemin is pretty good as Bilbo still and it was cool to hear Benedict Cumberbatch as Smaug. (thank you Google Drive, for correcting my spelling for a fictional dragon).

I have to say, though, that editing is something that Jackson forgot about a little bit. Not in individual scenes, some of the action scenes were really well cut in a way that kept them moving quickly and fast, but kept us, the viewers, in a place where we knew what was going on with our main characters. However...some of the actions scenes were kind of too long...and that’s my complaint of the whole movie. It’s...just too long.

Let’s go back to the Lord of the Rings for a bit. They were long, for sure. But they always had us feeling like we were going somewhere. No scene felt like it wasn’t needed, even the one’s we knew weren’t in the book. And, when the extended DVDs came out, we realized, “Oh, there was more crap Jackson wanted to put in, but they cut it out for time,...and it wasn’t completely necessary to the plot.”  

But when directors have made something totally and completely successfully to the point of making a studio millions, then they’re less harsh on the creator. “Oh, you want to put giant purple unicorn in your movie, sure man, that’s fine, you gave us millions before, go ahead.”  There’s no giant purple unicorn in Smaug, but there is somethign giant, that wasn’t ever in the books that...was not needed. 

We’ve seen this with other directors too. Think of James Cameron. If you go back to watch his other movies on DVD, you’ll see big scenes that were cut for time in the theaters. Aliens, Abyss, T2, all cut for time, all with extended, much longer versions on DVD. But after Titanic, the most successful movie of all time, he was given free reign with Avatar, 162 minute movie (that’s 2 hours and 42 minutes). Was I ever bored with Avatar? Hell no, I saw it 3 times in the theater.

In contrast, Smaug is 161 minutes, one minute shorter than Avatar.

But The Hobbit isn’t a single, epic movie. It’s the second movie made from the shortest book based in the Middle Earth universe! I don’t fully understand why they’re making these movies so long. They don’t make extra money for longer movies, in fact, they’re losing money. If they make a really sweet 2 hour movie, they make just as much money as a longer one, maybe even more because people might be more interested in seeing it a second time if it doesn’t take half the day to do so.

There are two problems with critiquing The Hobbit movies. 1: It’s based on a book, so we have something to compare to the original source material. 2: Peter Jackson made the Lord of the Rings movies, so we have something compare his abilities with.

Most movies that are based on books fall short of the original source material. (One that I can think of was better was Contact, the book was just kind of boring). So, this is not a hit against Jackson, it’s just fact that we all have to keep in mind and forgive him for.

But the fact he has already made such fantastic movies before with Lord of the Rings...when The Hobbit movies are so far from his own abilities, and from the source material, it’s almost like multiplicative effect, not just additive.

It sounds like I hated it...but, well yeah, I did. But there were some good parts. A giant, fire breathing dragon never looked or worked so well in a movie. It was good to see a live action movie do a dragon SO darn well.

And although she was never in the book, it was good to see Evangeline Lilly as an elf. You might remember in Lost as Kate, or, if you watch TV really late at night ten years ago, from those Live Links commercials.

(Sorry, she’s not local, you can’t talk to Evangeline Lilly if you call Live Links, and apparently doesn't live in Duluth, or in Vancuver).

Should you see it? Well yeah, it’s a Middle Earth movie, you’re going to see it anyway, so go, go see it. Fine then. And you will probably like it a lot better than me, ‘cus I’m just an over critical amauture movie reviewer with a lame website.

Here’s what Movie Bob says. 

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