Still trying to capture that good ol’ “Lord of the Rings” magic.
It goes without saying that Peter Jackson (director of the Hobbit films, as well as The Lord of the Rings) is an incredible storyteller.
That being said, the man needs to learn the importance of the word “cut.” The Desolation of Smaug, much like its predecessor in An Unexpected Journey, is just way too bloated and overlong to effectively tell its story. If everything within these nearly-three hours were extremely compelling and riotously entertaining, then I’d understand. But it’s just not.
The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug remains a solid film, though. There’s plenty of thrilling action scenes (including an incredibly fun scene featuring Bilbo and the dwarves floating down rapids inside barrels, all whilst fighting off an army of Orcs), the newly added Evangeline Lilly as elf Tauriel brings a breath of fresh air (though I may be biased since I’ve had a massive crush on this beautiful woman ever since LOST debuted almost a decade ago), and Smaug might just be the best fire-breathing dragon to ever grace the big screen.
But, I’m pretty sure this movie is called “The Hobbit,” right? So why, then, does it feel like Martin Freeman’s Bilbo Baggins is really only a main part in about thirty minutes or so of this film? He’s useful to find a magical keyhole and distract the formidable Smaug, and that’s about it. The wizard Gandalf, dwarf king Thorin, boatman Bard, and the elf duo of Legolas and Tauriel all seem to play bigger roles than the person this movie is actually named after.
And I know it’s sort of a given in many fantasy films today, but it’s hard to get over the obscene amounts of CGI used in these Hobbit films. All the obviously computer-generated orcs, landscapes, and locations make it start to feel like one is watching an elaborate Hobbit video game demo onscreen rather than an actual film.
Nevertheless, The Hobbit Part 2 remains a lot of fun. But if you’re still expecting these to be the second coming of Lord of the Rings, give up hoping. It’s become quite clear that these Hobbit films are simply popcorn entertainment whereas the LOTR films were amazingly entertaining while also being emotionally involving. There sure is a lot of dazzling spectacle to be had here, but it just can’t help but feel hollow.
For as entertaining as The Hobbit may be, it must be admitted that it simply can’t stand on its own as a film. There is no recognizable beginning, middle, and end. It is merely a continuation of the last film, and a setup for the final film (complete with the new Hollywood standard: an unsatisfyingly abrupt ending), disregarding the need for any conceivable storyline resolutions or character arcs. The great film trilogies are made up of three films that are able to stand on their own as well as help tell a larger story. Lord of the Rings did this. Star Wars, Back to the Future, Indiana Jones, The Dark Knight, The Godfather, and Toy Story did this. The Hobbit does not.
The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug sure is a lot of fun, but there’s not much substance to be found here. This overly long second installment has plenty of great moments, but also has no clear sense of direction. It almost seems as if Peter Jackson, nearing the end of his time with hobbits, is eager to force as much of the Middle Earth mythos onto the screen as possible… But if you’re into that sort of thing, well here you go.
© Matt Tory, 2013.