THE HOBBIT: THE DESOLATION OF SMAUG HFR 3D Review; "This Is A Sequel Done Right"

The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug finally hit theatres today, and you can read my spoiler-free verdict on the sequel, HFR (High Frame Rate) and 3D after the jump! Does it live up to An Unexpected Journey and The Lord of the Rings trilogy?

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By Josh Wilding - 12/13/2013

Like its predecessor, The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug is far too long. While there's no denying that the epic story is certainly big enough to justify being turned into a trilogy, it would have been far from a bad thing for Peter Jackson to use that as an opportunity to trim down some of the material. The Necromancer story may tie-in nicely to The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, but it feels unnecessary and occasionally slows down the pace of this movie despite serving as an effective way of bridging the two trilogies. It does however appear as if these scenes will pay off in the third and final instalment, and minor niggles aside, the sequel to The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey is nothing short of perfection.

Before talking about the movie though, I have to address HFR (High Frame Rate). Many critics didn't fall for the format this time last year - perhaps explaining why it has been shown to them in just regular old 3D at this year's screenings - but it looks absolutely incredible once again. It's comparable to the huge difference between DVD's and Blu-ray's, something which is evident in the magnificent barrel sequence (as it contains a single shot with no cuts flowing beautifully across the screen). It does occasionally make CGI more noticeable, but it's hard to say whether that is in fact the fault of HFR or down to how good we've become at noticing it thanks to countless "Making Of" documentaries. The 3D is also fantastic and arguably the best I've seen this year. That too is enhanced by HFR and if you choose not to see the movie in this format, then you might as well not even bother.

The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug is faced with having to bridge the gap between the first and final movies, but is never dull and never leaves you wanting more (although the cleverly handled cliffhanger ending will mean you're counting down the days until There And Back Again is released). Without delving into plot details, the story moves along at a nice pace - perhaps slowing down for a bit TOO long when they reach Laketown - all the while delivering impressive set piece after set piece. Whether it's the battle with the spiders in Mirkwood Forest, the incredible barrel chase mentioned above or the downright awesome final battle with Smaug, the sequel contains some of THE best action of any 2013 blockbuster.

Performance wise, everyone who returns from the previous instalment is just as good as they were last time. It does occasionally feel like Martin Freeman's Bilbo Baggins doesn't get enough screentime, but this gives us the chance to get better acquainted with the dwarves; no bad thing by any means. The biggest new additions are of course Luke Evans (Bard the Bowman), Evangeline Lilly (Tauriel), Lee Pace (Thranduil) and a returning Orlando Bloom as Legolas. They're all excellent additions to an already amazing cast and each of them are given several scenes to shine in. They all bring something new to the table, and their interactions with the characters we already know from An Unexpected Journey prove to be fascinating. There is one scene in particular with Legolas which will leave a huge smile on the face of any fan of The Lord of the Rings movies, and it's proof that having Peter Jackson return to helm these prequels was always the smartest choice.

Of course, when it comes to the real BIG new addition to the sequel, you can't really beat Smaug! While The Hulk was undeniablly an amazing creation, what Weta have achieved with the titular dragon is truly unbeatable and perhaps the greatest example of special effects to ever grace the big screen. He FEELS real and the level of detail which has clearly gone into his creation is just stunning. Benedict Cumberbatch's voiceover work is also great and helps again to effectively bring the dragon to life. While I'm sure that hardcore fans of the books will perhaps have some issues with The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, this is yet another superb adaptation of J.R.R. Tolkein's work by Peter Jackson. It fits in nicely alongside the other four, and will arguably be forever viewed as the definitive take on the classic novel. Simply put, regardless of a few minor niggles which ultimately amount to very little, this is a sequel done right and an absolutely essential viewing experience.









The second in a trilogy of films adapting the enduringly popular masterpiece The Hobbit, by J.R.R. Tolkien, "The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug" continues the adventure of the title character Bilbo Baggins (Martin Freeman) as he journeys with the Wizard Gandalf (Ian McKellen) and thirteen Dwarves, led by Thorin Oakenshield (Richard Armitage) on an epic quest to reclaim the lost Dwarf Kingdom of Erebor.


STARRING:

Martin Freeman as Bilbo Baggins
Ian McKellen as Gandalf the Grey
Richard Armitage as Thorin Oakenshield
Graham McTavish as Dwalin
Ken Stott as Balin
Aidan Turner as Kíli
Dean O'Gorman as Fíli
Mark Hadlow as Dori
Jed Brophy as Nori
Adam Brown as Ori
John Callen as Óin
Peter Hambleton as Glóin
William Kircher as Bifur
James Nesbitt as Bofur
Stephen Hunter as Bombur
Luke Evans as Bard the Bowman
Hugo Weaving as Elrond
Cate Blanchett as Galadriel
Orlando Bloom as Legolas
Evangeline Lilly as Tauriel
Benedict Cumberbatch as Smaug

RELEASE DATE: December 13th, 2013.
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39 Comments
TheRaven20 - 12/13/2013, 11:18 AM
Not even close to 5 stars for me.
TheRaven20 - 12/13/2013, 11:19 AM
I won't argue with people who liked this but don't call it a "superb adaptation of J.R.R. Tolkein's work". This was a terrible adaptation and an ok movie.
Smallvillefan21 - 12/13/2013, 11:44 AM
gulducati - 12/13/2013, 11:46 AM
The books are over-rated. There, I said it. I know a bunch of snobs will think that is blasphemy, but it's true. Apparently, you're not allowed to dislike books and you're not allowed to like movies as much or more. Who cares about faithful adaptations? They are different.
FreedomFreeLife - 12/13/2013, 11:46 AM
This movie is darker and much closer to Lord of The Ring
Movie gets from me 9 out of 10

Who rates less are hate and never seen this movie
ekrolo2 - 12/13/2013, 11:47 AM
@TheRaven20

I guess purists exist for everything these days.
SauronsBANE1 - 12/13/2013, 11:49 AM
@FreedomFreeLife, Or maybe people who rate this lower than that, you know, actually have different opinions than you.
valeriesghost - 12/13/2013, 11:53 AM
I enjoyed the original trilogy, i was okay with the changes, but the first Hobbit movie was no good. These are NOT faithful adaptations. THey've added WAY to much for it to be an adaptation. Less is more. There wasn't a need to break this book into three movies, two would have been perfect.
Greengo - 12/13/2013, 12:00 PM
Thank you for addressing HFR!!!!

It was amazing to see the first one in that format.

Greengo - 12/13/2013, 12:06 PM
Adapt: 1.
make (something) suitable for a new use or purpose; modify.
giannis - 12/13/2013, 12:12 PM
I saw it yesterday, It gets 8.5 out of 10 from me. HFR 3D was f.u.c.k.i.n.g awesome. Next week, once I finish with my exams, I'm going to see it one more time (in HFR 3D of course :)
ekrolo2 - 12/13/2013, 12:14 PM
By valid reasons for disliking it I mean stuff like them feeling the pacing was off, or the CGI was bad or some ones acting was terrible or the camera work was atrocious, you know, real [frick]ing problems with a movie. But when I hear anyone hate a movie solely because its not a copy/paste of the source material they can go [frick] themselves as far as I'm concerned.

You can thank this site for making me feel this way because it is INFESTED with assholes who just hate on anything thats not a copy/paste job of the source material weather its a book or comic and that is their sole and only reason for why they dislike it.
Greengo - 12/13/2013, 12:14 PM
Niggle?

funny gifs
SauronsBANE1 - 12/13/2013, 12:14 PM
And I definitely didn't mean to say that YOU'RE the hypocritical one. It's more of a culture thing. People in general praise the Avengers for the reasons I mentioned before and absolutely destroy the Dark Knight trilogy or even Man of Steel for being different from the comics. But for some reason when it comes to, say, the Hunger Games, or Lord of the Rings, or The Hobbit, the word "purist" suddenly comes up and us "purists" are just supposed to enjoy the film for what it is and not get upset at changes.

OF COURSE we'll get upset at changes. Comic book fans get upset about changes to their comics, and we get upset at changes to the books. In that way, it's hypocritical. Not necessarily you, just in a lot of people. Trust me, I definitely hear what you're saying, and I didn't mean to make it personal at all.
ekrolo2 - 12/13/2013, 12:16 PM
@SauronsBANE1

I get that man and yeah I can understand where you're coming from, I just get really carried away lol, hope I didn't insult you or anything I was just trying to prove a point.
SauronsBANE1 - 12/13/2013, 12:16 PM
I definitely agree with you that one shouldn't completely hate on a movie JUST because it's different from the source material, or that it just didn't do what one wanted it to do. That's fairly ridiculous, because sometimes those changes can actually strengthen a movie. I fully, 100% agree with you there.

Personally, I don't hate the Hobbit JUST because of the changes, although they certainly don't help. There's a myriad of other problems that doesn't just make this a poor adaptation, it makes it a poor movie overall.
SauronsBANE1 - 12/13/2013, 12:16 PM
Haha no worries, mate! I get pretty passionate about this kind of stuff too, no need to apologize
mrHJK - 12/13/2013, 12:20 PM
I thought it was better than the first Hobbit, but I'd still only give it like 4/5 tops.
Nomis1800 - 12/13/2013, 12:24 PM
Film was amazing!!! I do think this film is gonna benefit the most of the Extended Edition. Particularly the first half of the film will be longer and this way the whole film is better balanced.

I can't wait to see DOS once again in HFR/IMAX, I had an absolute blast at the Hobbit Night!

TABA feels very very very far away, good thing time only moves forward! :D Very excited to see how the cliffhanger continues and of course the happenings in Dol Guldur and probably the biggest sequence ever: the BO5A.
cipher - 12/13/2013, 12:31 PM
Heh, I wish I could get inappropriately drunk for the short (very short, hopefully) time we'll see my girlfriend's parents during Christmas week, but I can't afford for her to cut me off from the bed.
Greengo - 12/13/2013, 12:43 PM
Gusto has a lot of experience in that department.
WhiteBolt - 12/13/2013, 12:45 PM
I really enjoyed the first one in the HFR, but I didn't with TDOS. The overabundance of CGI looked really weak in 48fps. Smaug did look fantastic though.
RorMachine - 12/13/2013, 12:46 PM
You can't say a movie that ADDS things without detracting from the original story an unfaithful adaptation. Nothing was actually altered here, just expanded upon...Tolkien's original tale plays out the same, with a bit extra..and the extra is great stuff! I'd even argue that making Bard an actual CHARACTER instead of relegating him to..what was it?...half a chapter in the novel? Improves on things.
WhiteBolt - 12/13/2013, 12:48 PM
//There is one scene in particular with Legolas which will leave a huge smile on the face of any fan of The Lord of the Rings movies//

That scene had everyone laughing with a few "Awww!" from the girls in attendance.
dougieisrollingthejays - 12/13/2013, 12:53 PM
I actually like that they added a lot of stuff. some of it was shown in the book but never explained. Like the necromancer.
ds9epicfan - 12/13/2013, 1:01 PM
Good reviews or bad,I could care less!I'm still gonna go see the movie and make up my own mind!So far I've enjoyed The Lord of the Rings & The Hobbit and read the books and could care less if the movies are 100% faithful or not faithful to the novels!Books are literature and movies are a different creature!To judge both on the same level is pointless,your giving yourself a headache for no reason,same goes for comic books,cartoons,video games and tv shows turned into movies!To me,it's just one big headache if you're always nit-picking about details and stuff!And over the years,I've noticed that Hollywood doesn't give a shit about our opinions,rants,disappointments and disagreements with their way of making movies!The ONLY option we the fans have is to boycott going to movies or let shit go and try to have a good time at the theater!
Ceejay - 12/13/2013, 1:07 PM
"The Hobbit movies so far are Peter Jackson's awful prequel trilogy."

..erm, NO!
NeoBaggins - 12/13/2013, 2:56 PM
Film was [frick]ing awesome!!!! Saw it regs because I couldnt wait. But on my off day IMAX 3D.

THIS one has the weight of LORD of the RINGS to it. I love the first one, but it was missing some of that epic weight and urgency of LOTR even tho it's meant to be more of a lighter beginning. Well, it was genius because DOS is an epic, action-packed adventure. I sound like the plug guy on a TV spot but damn. Loved it.

Not sure they needed CGI characters where actors worked just fine in the first trilogy, and I really wonder what's going to go into the third film when(spoilerish?)



they were nearly at the end of the story. A 3 hour film about a battle? Guess we'll see. p
Sparrowsabre7 - 12/13/2013, 6:18 PM
Really not sure why so many people are loving this that hated the first, to me it had much of the same problems, some of which I felt were exacerbated this time around, and I liked Unexpected Journey. DOS isn't bad at all, it's good, but it still fell short of my Expectation of Smaug.
TrevT2 - 12/13/2013, 8:36 PM
Seen the HFR 3D Double Feature ( Unexpected Journey and Desolation back to back ) And WOW! Haven't had that much fun watching a movie since The Avengers, From start to finish it was just pure Middle-Earth awesomeness. The Hobbit being my favorite book i am fully aware of the changes that peter jackson made and i personally think they are improvements on an already amazing story.. Everyone that complains about the changes and length must want a 2 hour Narnia movie meant for kids ( Nothing against those movies but they sure aren't LOTR )I really like that these movies are trying to fit into the LOTR trilogy and LOVE they are implying that Smaug could ally with Sauron, I think that makes perfect sense! and that Possibility makes the Quest to take back Erebor and kill the dragon much more important and meaningful.
MightyZeus - 12/13/2013, 10:11 PM
Great review. I'm glad you enjoyed the film.
I am looking forward to watching it.
eleven59 - 12/13/2013, 11:10 PM
did like it better than the first..

something odd though.. Smaug looks more lifelike and real than the barrel scene, the final forge battle, and the orcs combined... go figure...

really wish Jackson would go back to more practical special effects..
StarkAnthony - 12/13/2013, 11:49 PM
This was better than the first one, but not by much. It had all the same problems, just perhaps in smaller doses. It's still an unnecessarily long and bloated cartoon.
Rhysno1 - 12/14/2013, 3:51 AM
Anybody else find it really clunky and repetitive?
I'm so sick of seeing the dwarves get captured and then escape constantly.
Was there any need for this film to be so long? I'd have cut down most of the start and focused more on Smaug, the only redeeming factor in this film for myself
JoJo1982 - 12/14/2013, 5:47 AM
I thought the movie was great and probably had the best action scenes of this year(highlight being the river and the barrel battle and Legolas fight with Bolg towards the end). Matter fact this was the shortest movie of the middle earth saga
ThatOneDude - 12/14/2013, 8:00 PM
Saw it last night, the pacing was 10 times better than in the first Hobbit. Smaug was [frick]ing amazing!!! So realistic and Benedict did an amazing job with the voice, definitely a 9/10 from me!!

Was a little sad when the Godzilla teaser didn't get played at my screening though...
MCott - 12/14/2013, 9:01 PM
That's all good.

1. I've heard some debate over the character of Tauriel and her romance with Kili. Look at it like this. In the book, Tolkien made the dwarves indistinguishable from one another (except for Bombur who was the biggest). There's an event (no spoilers) that happens at the end of the book. I think Tauriel was included (aside from the absence of female characters in The hobbit) to give that event a bigger impact.

2. Honestly, I want to hear about one of the movie's side plots. It's the thing I've been most excited for in this particular trilogy. How was Gandalf's confrontation of the Necromancer at Dol Guldur?
Bailkurn44 - 12/14/2013, 10:09 PM
This movie was amazing
Christuffer - 12/24/2013, 9:47 AM
I wholly agree. High Frame rate is bad ass

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