December 14, 2013

Movie Review: The Hobbit - The Desolation of Smaug

I don't really want to spend that much time on it, but I feel I would be remiss if I did not take a moment to reflect on The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug. As you may recall, I was not exactly a fan of An Unexpected Journey. While this middle chapter is definitely a step up from the first, it is not enough to win me over. In a way, that is a bit of a shame as it seems likely this will not do as well box office-wise, as it seems I wasn't the only one unenthusiastic over the first. While this did not win me over, it probably deserves a little better fate than that. On the other hand, perhaps this is a sign not to try and make further Middle Earth tales. One can hope.

To get us back into the story we get a flashback to before the journey began. Thorin (Richard Armitage) stops in a pub for a meal, taking a break from the search for his father. He notices he is being watched, but before trouble breaks out, Gandalf steps in, introduces himself and offers to help him get his homeland back and take his rightful place as the dwarf king. We then return to Bilbo and the anonymous drawfen horde and their journey to the lonely mountain.

What follows is some walking, some running, some horseback riding, some more walking, a bit more running, a ride in a boat, a little hike, and then a bunch of running around inside a mountain followed an Uh-Oh moment and a cut to black. That about sums it. Sure, other things happen, I just had a hard time mustering up the desire to care. It seems like Gandalf manipulates people into situations and then bails, the dwarf leader mainly cares about getting his king gem back, and our resident hobbit is trying to stay alive while occasionally falling prey to the power of the ring in his pocket.

This movie just goes on and on and on, seemingly endless, until it just stops. This isn't an adventure, it is a cure for insomnia made of pretty pictures to lull you into a false sense of security. Just as you are about to doze off, they toss in an action sequence that will either keep you awake or fuel some very strange dreams.

I suspect that Middle Earth has just worn out its welcome. I feel like I have seen all of New Zealand, more than once. While The Lord of the Rings trilogy was jam packed and exciting, this feels thin and stretched out, padded with filler. Instead of making this an exciting journey we get a little bit of material stretched to the breaking point.

To be fair, the fight/trip in the barrels down the river was fun and the stuff with Smaug is pretty fun, I also liked the spiders. It was also nice to see Evangeline Lilly again, this time playing an elf. The performances are fun (although I must say that Ian McKellan felt a bit off), cinematography is what you would expect, well let's just say that it is certainly technically proficient. This just didn't do it for me. Lord of the Rings-lite. It is pretty but definitely less filling.

I did make sure to see the movie not in HFR. I really do not care for the high frame rate presentation. I'm sorry, I like my movies to look like, what was it? Oh, that's right, movies!

Mildly Recommended.

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