Monday, January 6, 2014
Movie: Hobbit: Desolation of Smaug
My rating on a 1-10 scale: 9.5
Genre: Fantasy, adventure
Series or set: Hobbit
Number in series: 2nd
Primary actors: Ian McKellen, Martin Freeman, Richard Armitage
Length: Two and a half hours or so
Based on: Technically, the original Hobbit book, with a bit pulled from LOTR
Time period: Fantasy
Year it came out: 2013
My overall opinion: A good movie! At the time of writing this, I’ve seen it twice in the theater and will see it once more before it goes out. I liked it better the second time than the first, though I greatly enjoyed it both times! Now, here we go with what I thought of it and specific people/creatures/events/etc, in no particular order.
Be warned: spoilers are not in the least avoided! Indeed, they abound.
Bolg – Another primary orc dude to dislike, in addition to Azog who is making a return from the previous movie. And once again, he has quite a unique look about him – almost like there are bolts in his head, or at least, that was my first impression. While Azog was still the main immediately-visible villain, Bolg was also around quite often to do his dirty work for him. Decidedly despicable.
Gold – There was so much gold in this movie! Seriously. Either I haven’t heard, or I don’t remember how many gold coins were made for these scenes, but it was clearly a lot. The sheer vastness of the dragon’s lair was stunning…but I’ll come to that in a bit more detail later. Anyway. So there was all the gold in the dragon’s lair, and then down in the furnaces and all the gold that was supposed to bury said dragon was also an immense amount. Most impressive!
CGI – Like the vast amounts of gold, there were also vast amounts of CGI – albeit, very well done in my opinion. As my friend pointed out, however, part of the charm and enduring quality of the LOTR trilogy is the fact that so much of it is real, not digital. However, the CGI in this film was done nicely and didn’t detract from the story.
Dragon – One cannot write a review of this movie without a section for the dragon Smaug! He was impressive, and seemed quite accurate to the book, which I greatly appreciated. He seemed quite reasonable as far as dragons go. Certainly very large, very strong, but not impressively wise. So yeah, a good dragon!
Underground sets – There were two amazing locations that were underground in this movie – one being Thranduil’s palace with wood elves and the other, obviously, being within the Lonely Mountain. Let’s start with Thranduil’s. After I got used to the idea of elves living underground instead of just in trees (accurate to the book as it is!), I quite liked it. It managed to be underground, yet still spacious and truly beautiful. And light. Elegant curves, making it elvish. A lovely place to live. And then there’s the whole area under the Lonely Mountain. As you may know if you know me (or have read this blog for very long), I have rather a fascination with caves and underground scenes – the Mines of Moria is my hands-down-all-time favorite part in the LOTR trilogy. So going underground again here had me on the edge of my seat. The dragon’s lair is gigantic and awe-inspiring. And then the melting area…but that deserves it’s own section. Suffice to say that I have gained a very deep respect for the work of the dwarves and the area that they have created under there. I’d love to visit – after the dragon is gone and all is at peace.
Forge/furnace/melting place – This part was all so amazing. I was fascinated by how everything worked, and by watching the whole process. It’s quite an ingenious plan in the end, that whole thing with the statue, though how Thorin could’ve ever actually thought it would work is beyond me. Anyway, this was all definitely one of my favorite parts!
Sauron, orcs, and the ring – Because they all go together a lot. Sauron first. I’m not sure if he was ever named or not, but he was definitely there and a rather prominent part of this movie. He even takes on the eye form in a way. Some of that eye part was a little silly, I thought, but certainly very dramatic. Then there was the ring – already Bilbo feels often compelled to put it on and disappear, and experiences a weird world when he does. Played up a little from the book, but not an all bad change. And finally, the orcs. This was a big thing about this movie that I didn’t like – remember the scene where Gandalf goes to Dol Guldur to fight against the evil lurking there and meets Azog and co? At some point, as Gandalf is looking, he is told by the orcs that “we are legion.” There was a lot of darker content in parts of this movie, and that combined with the particular use of the word “legion” (which is pretty Biblical) felt like it was a very direct nod to satanic or demonic behavior. I’m all for a good-versus-evil battle, and think that probably some of this story does definitely correlate to the Bible. However, I really don’t like it when demonic type stuff is in the story, even when it’s clearly evil. SO I strongly disliked that.
Legolas – He’s back! Technically, it’s true, he’s not supposed to be but I think his appearance was more than worth it. It was great to see him again. He wasn’t a character who the audience got very attached to in this movie like he was in LOTR, and you never really got to know him – he spent most of his time doing awesome trick shooting. Speaking of which, I laughed when he stood on dwarf heads as they floated down the river and shot orcs – they all shot orcs. Epic. But yes! Legolas was back, up to amazing tricks once again.
Tauriel – Finally! A female elf who’s a fighter! She was a delight to watch. I did think that the whole thing with her and Kili was a little silly – I mean sure, he’s cute and awesome, but he’s a dwarf and she wouldn’t fall for him. Ever. But all in all, I thought she was awesome and her fighting skills are amazing!
Dwarves in barrels and spiders – The barrel scene was delightful, as I have suspected since the very beginning. While I didn’t absolutely fall in love with it, it was good and certainly enjoyable. And Bombur flying out of the river in his barrel, crashing down a hill, and killing many orcs? That was amazing. The spiders…definitely gross, but a good part of the movie.
Bard – We finally get to meet Bard here! He’s not bad looking, and seems like a nice enough man – I had to keep reminding myself that while he has his good points, he’s a bad guy in the final battle (although Thorin is too a little bit). But here Bard has a son and two daughters who we get quite attached to, and I’m curious to see how they paint him in the third movie.
Fire – Strange to say, the fire in this movie really stood out for me. Lol, it sounds weird – but I walked away thinking “There was so much fire!” Smaug was certainly very fond of it and used it often. Random point.
Nazgul beginnings stuff – To anyone not familiar with the Lord of the Rings movies, much of the fore-shadowing in this movie may go unnoticed and may even seem confusing. However, LOTR fans will be fascinated by the beginnings of the Nazgul. My only drawback is, of course, that this is not really in the book at all and technically shouldn’t have been included in this movie. Their burial place, where Gandalf and Radagast visited, was fascinating though!
Gandalf’s journeyings – I will be the first to admit that seeing where Gandalf went after leaving the hobbits was fascinating, and for the most part, it makes sense to have included it – time-wise, at least. Though I think much of it isn’t learned until LOTR in the books. But it was interesting, for sure, despite the made-up parts.
Peter Jackson’s cameo – Yup, there he was within the first few moments of the actual film, chomping down on another carrot in a distinct nod to Fellowship of the Ring! I was quite excited that I caught his cameo this time. :D
Book faithfulness – Well, as some other person said, about half of it is from the book and half of it is just made up and stuck in and added to make it more exciting. It was definitely exciting. And some of the improvements were indeed improvements – some I didn’t like as much.
Something missing – One thing that hit me really hard to not have was the awesome way that the dwarves are introduced to Beorn. Here they see him as a bear, and then get chased by orcs and all just kind of run into his house. Remember how in the book, they come in by twos following Gandalf’s instructions as he steadily spins a tale, except for Bombur who comes a little before he’s supposed to? It’s such a cool way to do it, and I really missed that here. I also noted that this movie entirely skipped the river with the water that they couldn’t touch (except Bombur touched it and fell asleep and they had to carry him a great distance).
So there you go – a complete run-down of my thoughts concerning Hobbit: Desolation of Smaug! Worth your time and money to see in the theater? Absolutely. I can’t wait to watch it again!
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Have you seen it? What did you think?