Monday, August 4, 2014

The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug (2013)

"Strangely video-game like, unimpressive special effects following LOTR." <---- Shut your Orc mouth.I was fortunate enough in December 2012 to watch The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey (2012) in theaters. Last December, when The Desolation of Smaug hit cinemas, it seemed nobody wanted to go, and my family didn't want me to go alone. Yesterday I decided to rent it from Redbox, and last evening after finishing up the week's schoolwork assignments, I watched this two and a half hour film.

Cinematically, this is an absolute specimen. New Line Cinema and Peter Jackson spare nothing to make Tolkien's film adaptations excellent in the aesthetic sense, in scenery, imagination, costuming--everything. I remember at least subconsciously knowing that An Unexpected Journey was the same, and good cinematography is a huge draw to me--it's partially why I so recommend War Horse (2011).

But I am not without my complaints--unfortunately. An Unexpected Journey I absolutely adored. I was a little miffed at how much Jackson rent the story up by including Azog, who, at the beginning of Tolkien's novel The Hobbit, is already dead. I enjoyed the inclusion of the Necromancer and the White Council's meeting about him. That movie, when I first saw it, seemed the right amount of action and character involvement. I cannot say the same for this installment--at all. It was as though Peter Jackson looked at his audience and said, "Okay. You know the characters well enough. I'm making this second movie purely for the action." There was maybe one or two instances of character development within the Dwarves and Bilbo. There was at least half an hour too much of action. I was like, okay. Let's take some extra needless shots of Orcs coming to Laketown because we really need more action. Let's include more attacks so we can make this 2 1/2 hours like its precedent. Let's make it extremely emotionless because you've already basically told me that every second there's going to be a surprise attack so it's not going to be a surprise for me anymore.

But faulting this movie incessantly for overly dramatizing everything takes away from many of its good points. I already said that the cinematography was excellent. And Legolas was an absolute oaf in this movie. That isn't exactly a good thing, but it showed how much he matured within the sixty following years. Tauriel's relationship with--Kili, right?--that was a bit weird, but it was sweeter than I expected, and I felt that it added, rather than took away from, the general plot. What can I say, I'm a romantic. Bard the Bowman was incredible. I loved him. Perfect, perfect casting.

Now to the best part of the whole movie. 

Smaug the Great and Terrible.

He's pretty obviously CGI'd, but you can't help that because he's a dragon. His sheer size was magnificent. And Benedict Cumberbatch! Agh, can I just fangirl for a second? I watched him in War Horse briefly, but had no idea who he was then. His voice for Smaug was just absolutely perfect, his acting impeccable. Of course they modified the sound of his voice to make it bigger, more earthy, but I just loved that. It was like listening to Treebeard, but much less exhausting. I could listen to Smaug's voice forever. And his fire did not look CGI'd--except maybe once. Final assessment of this dragon: I LOVE HIM.

And . . . Martin Freeman. Best Bilbo ever. Couldn't have cast a better one. I can only imagine how difficult to act the Smaug scene was, yet he pulled it off so darn well. I just love Bilbo. And Martin Freeman's acting. Did I already say that? :)

The movie definitely had its faults. But it had its good features too. What Jackson lost in overemphasizing drama he made up for with a brilliant cast and amazing effects. And did you know that the trailer for The Battle of the Five Armies is out? Pippin's song is just the right fit for the trailer, which looks much, much better, and far more enticing, than the trailer for The Desolation of Smaug, which I remember thinking looked a little mmm-blah ish. 
What do you think of the trailer? What did you think of The Desolation of Smaug?

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