Ror Reviews: THE HOBBIT: THE DESOLATION OF SMAUG (IMAX 3D)

Does Peter Jackson's middle Hobbit flick suffer from "second movie syndrome", or will it silence those not convinced by An Unexpected Journey? Read on for my take, with some well signposted SPOILERS.

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By Mark "RorMachine" Cassidy - 12/10/2013
The second installments in movie trilogies are often considered the weakest. Tasked with the job of carrying the momentum forward from the first film but leaving enough to ensure a satisfactory finale is set up, they can often seem a bit...uneventful. Fortunately that is not the case with The Desolation Of Smaug - although it must be said that those who raged against the decision to turn Tolkien's novel into three movies might have some more ammo come the ending.



This time Peter Jackson begins with an interesting flashback of the first meeting of Thorin and Gandalf, and from there we're straight into the action as Bilbo and co. flee Azog and his orcs. We meet (far too briefly) Beorn the skin changer, and then we're off again to Mirkwood and some very nasty spiders. The Desolation Of Smaug continues on like this for pretty much its entire runtime - and that's not a bad thing! Although I really enjoyed An Unexpected Journey, there is no doubt that it dragged at times. That's not to say there aren't any lulls in the action for some dramatic character moments, but even these scenes have a sense of urgency that the first movie lacked at times (I'm looking at you Council Of Elrond).

Obviously Jackson and his writers take a few liberties with the source story to pad things out and introduce some characters that were not in the novel, but in the case of Tauriel (Evangeline Lilly) at least I can't imagine many complaints. She's one of the highlights of the movie and her burgeoning romance with Kili (Aidan Turner) is actually quite sweet and never seems forced. Luke Evans also does a fine job as Bard - a character that actually gets much more to do in this movie than he did in the novel! Then of course we have the return of Orlando Bloom as a younger, more aggressive and, well, dickish Legolas..no doubt influenced by his even more dickish father Thranduil (Lee Pace). These are all welcome additions though, as the Elven scraps provide some of the most thrilling set pieces. Another is that barrel ride glimpsed in the trailers and so familiar to Tolkien fans; this time with a added Orc/Elf arrow battle for good measure. This brings us to the titular beast. Benedict Cumberbatch's Smaug will undoubtedly go down as one of (if not THE) best screen dragons ever, bringing a malicious intelligence and ferocity to an incredibly realized CG creation. His scene with Bilbo is a joy to watch, and what follows is a chaotic scramble of fire and dust as the dwarves try to stay ahead of Smaug's wrath.

No, action junkies will have little to complain about..though this does bring me to what I really didn't like about the movie. Peter Jackson just can't seem to help adding completely ridiculous, physics defying pratfalling to certain scenes. Dwarves tumble into oh so conveniently placed barrels/forges/holes, before rolling through orcs like a bowling ball etc. A bit of this is fine of course - but it just goes too far. For instance..

SPOILERS:


Towards the end Thorin winds up literally falling onto Smaug's snout. All the dragon has to do is snap once and his enemy is dead...but instead he just sort of hovers there looking at the dwarf until the others have a chance to throw stuff on top of him. Then after that Thorin is swinging right in front of him on a chain..chatting away! EAT HIM DAMMIT! It's just plain silly, and it removes any sense of real danger from what up to that point has been a pretty tense final battle overall.

END SPOILERS.


So yeah, that stuff really annoys me but if you don't mind it then you could probably add a star to the four below, because The Desolation Of Smaug is a great time overall. Another gorgeous looking (do see it in IMAX if you can) journey to Middle Earth, with a great returning cast and some very welcome additions. As I said, the cliffhanger ending may piss a few people off, but if the third and final film can live up to what these previous installments have build up, we will be in for a treat. "This generations' Star Wars prequel trilogy"? Not even close boys, not even close.

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62 Comments
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PurpleHelmetWarrior - 12/10/2013, 12:20 PM
Cool, can't wait to check out, avoiding spoilers (didn't read book either)...
Spidey10 - 12/10/2013, 12:21 PM
Cant wait to see it...great review
Mashpataters - 12/10/2013, 12:22 PM
I knew this one would be good.
GEEKBLAST - 12/10/2013, 12:30 PM
"The second installments in movie trilogies are often considered the weakest."

This opening statement seems to have been beamed in through a worm hole from a parallel universe.

You're gonna have to give me some examples Ror because almost every trilogy I can think of the sequel is the best movie or just as good as the first
Nubase - 12/10/2013, 12:30 PM
will be watching this on imax
charlie2094 - 12/10/2013, 12:31 PM
Nice review, can't wait to see it! Think Smaug will be awesome, looks incredible from the trailers, and Cumberbatch sounds great! Was a bit annoyed by the physics defying scenes of the first, when the film seemingly goes from role to ridiculous, so a shame to see it's still present, but I can overlook it

Not many people seem to be mentioning the Necromancer, also played by Cumberbatch? Is he actually in the 2nd?
ManofSteel23 - 12/10/2013, 12:33 PM
I like the first,so this looks like it wont disappoint,I only have to look at it as a childs film and everything silly doesnt bother me
ralfinader - 12/10/2013, 12:33 PM
Great review from both Ror and Gusto. Looking forward to this flick and more pics of Ror's pot of gold.
SpideyQuad - 12/10/2013, 12:38 PM
Thank God because Star Wars is the biggest overrated hunk of crap. The Empire strikes back is a good movie, but I consider that an accident given that the four after that are complete and terrible junk manufactured to promote toys and games to the little kiddies. (Not even touching the profiteering involved over the decades)
RorMachine - 12/10/2013, 12:41 PM
That's just the exception that proves the rule! I'll see your Empire and raise you a Back To The Future 2, Girl Who Played With Fire, Attack Of The Clones, The Two Towers, Temple Of Doom (which was originally part of a trilogy for a long time remember)..course it's all down to personal taste at the end of the day but generally speaking, those movies were less well received than the other installments.
NovaCorpsFan - 12/10/2013, 12:44 PM
Sounds good. Probably gonna go see it with my buddies.
GEEKBLAST - 12/10/2013, 12:48 PM

@Ror I'm with you on Back To the Future 2, Attack of the Clones, Don't know about Two Towers...and I wouldn't even count the Girl who Played with Fire but like you said that's personal taste

But I still think you're ignoring that it's overwhelmingly accepted that there is a thing called the trilogy curse...meaning that a franchise generally doesn't get bad till the 3rd movie

Godfather

Terminator

X-Men

Star Wars

Spider-Man

The Dark Knight Trilogy

Alien trilogy (before the 4th one)
NovaCorpsFan - 12/10/2013, 12:50 PM
Spider-Man 2. X-Men 2. Thor The Dark World. Beneath the Planet of the Apes. Blade 2.
NovaCorpsFan - 12/10/2013, 12:52 PM
Before I get people going apeshit over Beneath the Planet of the Apes being better than the first. I find it to be much more engaging than the first.
NovaCorpsFan - 12/10/2013, 12:54 PM
monkeyballs

Only 'cause of the sex scene.
NovaCorpsFan - 12/10/2013, 12:54 PM
Rocky 2.
gaikinger - 12/10/2013, 12:54 PM
Ror - do they continue with the Lonely Mountain themed soundtrack?....i really dig that!
Joementum - 12/10/2013, 12:56 PM
Read the book. It won't really ruin Jackson's take on the story. The book demands a deep imagination and need of adventure. The movie(s) demand for popcorn sales and watered down drinks.

When reading the books I imagine Tolkein's hand on every page. When watching the movies, Jackson's additions seem less inspired which in-turn leaves me less inspired.
you can.
Read The Hobbit...create images/special effects and feed your imagination.
GEEKBLAST - 12/10/2013, 12:56 PM
@monkeyballs
Really?? I mean I guess I could see that but not really

@Nova

Rocky 2...F#$K YEAH!

RorMachine - 12/10/2013, 12:58 PM
Guys, hardly any of those are real trilogies..aside from The Godfather which I'll give you..second was clearly better than the third. But the likes of X-Men, Spider-Man etc? never envisioned as trilogies..there was no beginning middle and end of a story to tell, they just made more movies that sometimes happened to stop on 3..that's not what I was talking about with my opening comment.
SpideyQuad - 12/10/2013, 12:59 PM
GEEK, hard to argue with that list but you left out "Return of the Jedi ""possibly the first movie the start that trend. :O
KidGoku - 12/10/2013, 1:01 PM
Is Toy Story 3 the only film of a trilogy that is the best film as well as being the third?
KidGoku - 12/10/2013, 1:01 PM
Return of The King. Nevermind.
Dmon - 12/10/2013, 1:12 PM
While I personally prefer Batman Begins to TDK most people would say TDK is better then the first one.
GEEKBLAST - 12/10/2013, 1:14 PM
So you're qualification for a "trilogy" is that the franchise from the on set had to be envisioned as three movies. Ok that's cool. But that's not really how that word is thrown around today...even in Hollywood.

But if we're gonna use the word the way you define it, then sure I see your point.
Brainiac13 - 12/10/2013, 1:16 PM
ROR you lucky dude!!!

Looking forward to this over the Christmas holiday.
Greengo - 12/10/2013, 1:17 PM
Did you see it in 48fps?
SpideyQuad - 12/10/2013, 1:17 PM
Monkey, how about "Thor the Dark World"

While not great it did surpass the original. The same could be said about the Narnia movies
GEEKBLAST - 12/10/2013, 1:17 PM
oh and going by your definition, while I could be wrong, I don't think Indiana Jones was originally envisioned as a 3 part series the
Nomis - 12/10/2013, 1:17 PM
SpideyQuad - 12/10/2013, 1:21 PM
yossarian Touché sir, Touché
RorMachine - 12/10/2013, 1:25 PM
Actually Indy was..loosely at any rate. There was always a plan for a trilogy with certain elements present in each, but you are right in that they didn't actually continue a story from first to third. And obviously we can't even refer to it as a trilogy now that we have Kingdom Of The C*nting Skull.
SinestroFirg - 12/10/2013, 1:36 PM
Being in NZ, I am pretty sure no one gives a shit about this movie over here. J/K.
NovaCorpsFan - 12/10/2013, 1:36 PM
Is Guto controlling these other accounts or does he have a fanbse?
NovaCorpsFan - 12/10/2013, 1:37 PM
Guato*
SinestroFirg - 12/10/2013, 1:41 PM
Gusto,

it's G'day bruh...

That shit is Australian. Those incestious, bikini clad retards are hot though. But they Ozzies. So they are a notch below humanity.
batcheeks8 - 12/10/2013, 1:42 PM
I'm seeing it in an hour, can't wait
Nomis - 12/10/2013, 1:47 PM
TERMINOMIS!

AC1 - 12/10/2013, 1:48 PM
Since when have people considered second installments the weakest in trilogies? Usually it's the third part...

Anyway, looking forward to this one, even though I found the first to be quite disappointing (despite the phenomenal cast).
MCott - 12/10/2013, 1:52 PM
I agree with you about the comparison. The Star Wars trilogy was a great monument of film making. The prequels, however, were just a greedy attempt by Lucas to line his pockets with cash.

That didn't happen with the Lord of the Rings and the Hobbit. You can tell Peter Jackson genuinely wanted to continue the story, and he didn't really care about the money.

On a side note, you only talked about the film's main plot. I do wish you would have talked about the two side plots a little more. Particularly the plot about Gandalf at Dol Guldur. Honestly, that's what I'm most looking forward to in the movie. That and Benedict Cumberbatch's second character, the Necromancer of Dol Guldur. (I've read Tolkein's works so I know all about the Necromancer, but I'm just really excited to see it)
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