REVIEW: The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug

I’ve been a Tolkien and Hobbit fan since I was 13 years old. And have read the hobbit almost 20 times since. I suffered through the Rakin Bass cartoon which I hated, the sad and weak Lord of the Rings movie Ralph Bakshi attempted. I have mixed feelings about Peter Jackson’s efforts in Lord of the Rings. I am a purist and he takes a lot of liberties. But unlike other attempts I’ve seen, he does seem to respect the material and tries to give it justice as he sees it.

I liked the first Hobbit movie he did. But this is a lot better. It moves a long at a brisk pace despite it being 2 1/2 hours. There is no slapstick and silliness like the last one had, which is a blessing. One of my big problems with Jackson is his love for stupidity and crass humor. This film, however takes a lot of liberties with the book. It’s basically true to the story but a lot of new content is added. While he and his co-writers have gotten better since Lord of the Rings with making their added stuff sound more like Tolkien they reveal why Tolkien was so much better than they as writers. Tolkien gave his characters more meaning and more weight. They added a new character to this movie who I like, Tauriel. She’s fine and I don’t mind her being there. But all these new scenes they added between her and Legolas and the Orcs being on the edge of just about every scene in the story (which wasn’t the case in the book) keeps the pacing going but robs the story of its complexity.

What Tolkien did with the Hobbit was show human nature through his inhuman characters. The Elves, Dwarves and Men of his world revealed a lot of failings people have dealing with each other. It comes to a head in the next part but here it just seems like window dressing. Because Jackson ladles on the action to a ridiculous extent. All that action makes the story feel more like a series of set pieces. The book was way more about characters. The Hobbit is almost sidelined as the Dwarves and other characters steal the show. Like in the Lord of the Rings movies, the Hobbits are kind of shunted aside in their own story.

I did enjoy it. It was spectacular. Even more impressive than The Lord of the Rings was in some ways. I just felt it was missing its heart. And Smaug was very well done, but they made his scenes more action oriented than they were in the book. The cat and mouse conversation he had with Bilbo in the book was just a prelude for the Dwarves trying to steal the show again.

Sadly, not a lot of people in the theater when I went today. But if the last one could make a billion dollars in a couple weeks thius one should do better. Its more entertaining.

I just wish they understood that action is not always needed to keep a good story compelling.

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