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Review: The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug

Deja vu, much?

This evening, I went to see both “Hobbit” movies. It was actually a lot of fun. We had a good-sized but not huge crowd for the double-feature, and most of them were mature Tolkien fans: people willing to lay down $30 and not get home until 4 AM, without the privilege of an IMAX screening (which you could get if you just went to the midnight screening at this cinema). I tied for first in a trivia competition, which isn’t nearly as impressive as you’d think when you realize anyone with a basic knowledge of the book and a familiarity with the main actors should have been able to answer them. Being a Sherlock fan is good for knowing, for example, that Benedict Cumberbatch voiced not Smaug (and I use that word “voiced” advisedly – really, it was a truly impressive but DARK role with some really excellent motion-capture acting) but the Necromancer as well.

This was the third time I’ve seen “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey” in the cinemas, and this time I made two conscious choices. First, I was determined to actually enjoy it. Really enjoy it – to focus on the things I liked rather than the things that irked me. Second, I was going to approach it as a telling of the events around “The Hobbit” rather than an adaptation of “The Hobbit” itself. That meant I didn’t get irked by things like the prolonged race through Goblintown or the whole showdown between Azog and Thorin (with assistance nobly provided by one hobbit-burglar). I would try not *too* hard to chuckle at the rather obvious copying of Gandalf with the map, or the dwarves making their way across country in a long line that copied the Fellowship profile shot in “The Ring Heads South” section. I would focus on the bits that really felt right to me, like pretty much everything in Bag End and with Gollum. And because of that decision, I really was swept up in it. The bits that had always bothered me in the past suddenly seemed necessary to flesh out the characters, to show how they can fight or the enormity of the world. As a retelling of the Quest for Erebor, it really worked quite well.

Next up, “The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug.” Before we go any further, I’m not holding back, so thar be spoilers.

Read the rest of this entry »

Originally published at Faith Seeking Understanding. You can comment here or there.


( 11 comments — Leave a comment )
Dec. 13th, 2013 11:38 am (UTC)
I'm going to see it this evening. I have seen the Thranduil clips online already and I am braced for Evil!Thranduil. I have promised myself I'm not walking out over it.

And I don't need to see it to know Tauriel's going to be a Mary Sue. I can see how the whole love triangle thing is going to end already. So, Leggy hates dwarves in Fellowship 'cause he lost his girl to one in Hobbit. Then he ends up with a dwarf boyfriend himself. Write that fan fic. (I guarantee you someone already has it started). **SIGH**

But, like you, I didn't like the first one much until I relaxed and watched the DVD and tried to focus on Bilbo. Then I actually liked it. It helps that I made my own cut of it with iMoviePro to cut out a bunch of Gobblintown. So, hopefully, I can sit back and enjoy a view a Mirkwood on screen. That's what I'm going to try for anyway.

We'll compare notes more later. ;-)
Dec. 13th, 2013 05:09 pm (UTC)
The funny thing was, my first thought on getting out of the cinema was we really needed a "fix this movie" fanfic challenge. There's certainly a lot to work with, but I'm not sure there's enough of a Tolkien connection to redeem me. I am toying with an idea of a "why Thranduil is not evil" essay, but I know that's been done.

The love triangle thing, though? That wasn't the first fanfic I'd like to see written. And yet I have no doubt in the world someone was pecking away at their keyboard all night. Probably several someones.

On Mirkwood: this was actually one of the things I loved. You miss quite a bit of the hunt through the forest: the elven party drawing them off, the whole thing with crossing that river and Bombur going to sleep and having to carry him, etc. But the forest itself is wonderfully drawn, it's Fangorn on steroids with a hallucinogenic effect as well, and the cave feels more like Lothlorien set in a cave worthy of the Moria halls. It may not be how I imagined it, but it was magnificent.

Edited at 2013-12-14 02:14 am (UTC)
Dec. 13th, 2013 05:11 pm (UTC)
Also, Bilbo's moment above the trees when he tries to work out where the company is? Movie moment #3 with Bilbo that really, really worked for me. It was wonderful.
Dec. 13th, 2013 01:31 pm (UTC)
I would focus on the bits that really felt right to me, like pretty much everything in Bag End and with Gollum.

*agrees wholeheartedly*
Dec. 13th, 2013 05:09 pm (UTC)
I suspect we're not the only ones. :-)
Dec. 13th, 2013 02:35 pm (UTC)
That said, if Peter ever sets his eyes on the Akallabeth, I’m flying to new Zealand and taking a baseball bat (cricket racquet?) to his knees.

*falls over laughing* Call me, I will go with you and hold him down!
Dec. 13th, 2013 05:03 pm (UTC)
Glad I could give a laugh! Can you imagine his take on Sauron's dark religion and the temple? Ugh.
Dec. 16th, 2013 03:07 am (UTC)
Or if PJ ever looked at the Silm, I can only think with horror on what he'd do with Feanor... (Though there's, er, plenty of canonical bad rap for him to work with there...)

I like Dreamflower's view: seeing the movies as an AU fanfic! That's kind of how I went in, I wasn't expecting anything resembling a faithful adaptation. I *knew* Tauriel was going to be Mairisuwen, that she'd be Legolas' love interest (didn't expect Tauriel/Kili, though), and I didn't have high hopes for Thranduil either. He was not how I imagined him, and I had a very different picture of the Woodland Realm.

However, I purposely went in excited to see the film, so I wasn't growling and grumbling the whole way through. My friend was dressed up, I borrowed her cloak to feel more in the spirit, and we fell into conversation with a friendly girl dressed as Frodo in front of us, so a good time was had by all.

Bilbo continued to be phenomenal, and Smaug was thrillingly dreadful and magnificent. I was absolutely riveted the entire time that they were at the Lonely Mountain. Like you, I'm going to need to see it a couple more times in order to let the whole thing percolate. :)
Dec. 13th, 2013 08:03 pm (UTC)
See, this is just why I look for spoilers ahead of time! It helps to bring my expectations down to earth, and keeps me from exploding at some scene I don't like.

Of course, it also helps that I simply think of PJ's cine-verse as being a nice long AU fanfic. I've read (and enjoyed) worse, insofar as taking liberties with canon go. (Not judging the quality of the stories--some are brilliant! Your whole "convince me" approach applies to AUs as well as to 'shipping.) ;)

But now I'll know what to look out for on some things, and probably will only wince at Tauriel's Mary Sue-ishness, rather than growl at it.

And I suppose I should wait a year until it's over to actually start writing, but my head keeps wanting to start an essay about the difficulties of blending book and movie verse with TH fanfic, as opposed to with LotR, which isn't all that hard...

Dec. 14th, 2013 02:12 am (UTC)
I agree. If I hadn't known what expect with some parts, I'd have been losing my mind. As it was, since I was braced for it, I liked the movie over all.
Dec. 14th, 2013 02:39 am (UTC)
After I got burned by the Bakshi debacle back in the 70s, I'd never go blindly into any Tolkien adaptation!

Urrrrggghhh! I was ranting about that the other night to the DH (he can't even remember us going to see it, lucky man!) He couldn't believe how ticked I am about it still after 35 years!
( 11 comments — Leave a comment )



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