The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug (2013)
Directed by Peter Jackson
As my title conveys, I am not happy with Peter Jackson’s “Hobbit” sequel. Not at all. Here’s why.
1. 2007 video game quality – Too many things, from the orcs to Bilbo (an unsurprisingly incredible Martin Freeman) in Erebor to Gandolf’s (Ian McKellen) struggle, look incredibly unrealistic. I can almost see the editors saying “Does it look like Bilbo is actually talking to a dragon?”…“Close enough.” I’m not sure whether it was the 3D, Jackson’s high frame rate (HFR), or a combination of both, but at times I felt like I was back in middle school watching an advertisement for the new Hobbit video game. At times, it’s almost comical in its fakeness.
2. Cheesy elfin romance – Don’t get me wrong, I was really glad to see a strong female character enter the “Hobbit” franchise…I just wish she didn’t need to be in a love triangle reminiscent of a work of Lord of the Rings fan fiction or a Spanish-language telenovela. Tauriel (Evangeline Lilly) is a good character, able to excite audiences with her strength and shooting prowess. But when she gets the hots for one of the dwarves (even after part two, they’re not given enough individual attention for me to remember their names), and Legolas (Orlando Bloom, just as awesome to watch in CGI battle) begins to show feelings for her, it all gets a little silly. That, coupled with the cinematography and lighting associated with the high frame rate, made “The Desolation of Smaug” look like a predictable soap opera.
3. Again, nobody dies – I understand the franchise was created for children, and that Jackson and the screenwriters have a book to stay faithful to, but how can I feel any sort of suspense with the understanding that nobody will die except the bad guys? The middle, disregarding a 15-minute fight scene for the ages (involving the dwarves floating down a river while defending themselves from orcs with the help of a couple elfin friends), is slow and boring, no thanks to the lack of real peril. Sure, there are some occupational hazards, but nothing that we’re sure they can’t all get out of alive…even if most of them are no more than four feet tall and 400 pounds.
Even if Smaug (Benedict Cumberbatch) looks fantastic (for the 30 minutes we actually see him) and a couple of the fight scenes rival any I’ve seen in quite some time, “The Desolation of Smaug” fails to capitalize on the exciting premise the first “Hobbit” set up for it. And I’m even less excited about how Jackson has stretched out the third part into a feature-length film. I guess we’ll find out.