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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.

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

Comments

dreamflower02
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...

elliska
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.
dreamflower02
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!

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