Throwback Thursday: Review of “The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug”

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Last Thursday, I caught the midnight (really the 10 pm) premiere of the second instalment of The Hobbit trilogy called The Desolation of Smaug. Now, I’m going into this review expecting that you’ve seen it since it’s already been a week people, come on. I’m a firm believer of watching movies I’m super pumped for the minute they come out. Needless to say, spoilers (always said in River Song’s voice).

First off, I’m going to say something I’ve told most people who have asked me if they should go see this, prefacing that they haven’t seen the first one: YES. Go see it. You don’t need to see the first one. Just watch the following video and you’ll know everything you need to:

I watched the first movie but that’s because I believe that the more movies Peter Jackson makes about Middle Earth the better. In any case, whether you’ve watched the first movie (loved or hated it) or not, you have to see this movie. It’s infinitely better and tons of fun. Plus if you watched the Lord of the Rings trilogy mostly for action, then this movie is for you. The pacing is faster, there are a lot of cool fight scenes plus Smaug. Oh mighty Smaug. The VFX people have really outdone themselves with their work on Smaug. He is exactly how I pictured him in my mind when I first read the book. Obviously Benedict Cumberbatch’s voice made it all the more epic.

Enough about me gushing about Smaug, onto the story. To put it simply, all the cool stuff in The Hobbit happens in this movie minus the climax, which means yes, it ends in a cliffhanger and Smaug does not die in this one. So we visit Beorn’s house, go into Mirkwood, fight the spiders, meet the elves (yay for Legolas and more importantly Tauriel!), go to Lake-town, meet Bard, then go to the mountain to meet Smaug. And I use “we” here because I felt like I was part of the company since I went to see it in IMAX 3D 48 FPS, which I highly recommend. The barrel sequence looked particularly amazing on the IMAX and is one of my favorite scenes. But they have added and changed lots of elements from book to screen, which in my opinion make for a more entertaining and ultimately better movie. We all knew this was coming since the announcement of splitting the films into three parts. Some purists may be disappointed but I for one welcome the changes. In my opinion, simply adapting The Hobbit page per page wouldn’t have worked, so adding Tauriel and Legolas, showing where the heck Gandalf goes and having more dragon scenes were simply awesome.

Another thing I noticed was how, by having three Hobbit films and now having seen the first two instalments, this trilogy is mirroring the Lord of the Rings trilogy. In Fellowship, much like An Unexpected Journey, the least amount of action takes place. It’s more exposition really and can (but shouldn’t) be skipped. In Two Towers, we have a really cool battle scene in Helm’s Deep much like the dragon vs dwarves scenes in The Desolation of Smaug. Both films are ultimately leading up to the final movie where the penultimate war is inevitably going to take place (Return of the King‘s Battle at the Black Gate and There and Back Again’s Battle of the Five Armies).

This is a completely biased review I know but I can’t help that I loved it so much. Obviously I can point out some plot holes and ridiculous things but I won’t because I don’t want my high from the movie to wear off just yet. Instead, I’ll end the review with some cool easter eggs I’ve noticed from this movie:

1. Peter Jackson’s carrot-munching cameo that echoes the almost exact one he did in The Fellowship of the Ring, set in Bree.

2. We go back to The Prancing Pony where Peter’s daughter, the adorable little hobbit who gasps as Bilbo tells the story in The Fellowship, has a cameo now all grown-up as the waitress who serves Thorin and Gandalf.

3. Legolas finds a photo of Gimli, his future BFF, in Gloin’s pocket and insults him. Classic uppity Legolas.

4. Stephen Colbert has a cameo as one of the citizen spies of Lake-town. He has a fake eyepatch!

5. Bofur says basically the same line that Sam does in The Fellowship: “Kingsfoil, aye it’s a weed!”

6. It’s not really an easter egg, more of a fun fact: Tauriel dated a hobbit! Evangeline Lilly’s ex Dominic Monaghan played Meriadoc Brandybuck. I found it amusing when I overheard the girls beside me giggling about it.

Hope you all go and see the movie to decide for yourselves!

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2 Comments

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2 responses to “Throwback Thursday: Review of “The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug”

  1. I basically hated it, but I appreciate the reasons you loved it. I find the mirroring of the LOTR trilogy really distracting — it’s completely obvious, and it’s so unnatural — and I loathed all the battle scenes. Seriously, the barrel scene is one of my favourite set pieces in all of literature, and it felt like a tacky video game. And the female elf with dwarfen love story? Blech. (I love Evangeline Lily, but seriously, blech.)

    I don’t mind changes — Bard’s family history instead of a bird kind of thing — but this movie isn’t just changes for the sake of dramatization. It’s all padding, and it’s awful. I got really frustrated and, a little embarrassingly, legitimately upset at how much I loathed the first two hours of the movie.

    Having said that, Smaug is truly AMAZING and that ending scene — “What have we done?” — was brilliant.

    • I totally get your point. They definitely went “Oh wait, we’re now splitting it into three? Damn, we better stretch everything out!” As much as I loved Smaug, even I thought the dragon vs dwarves scenes were running too long! As for Tauriel, I liked her but not the weird love triangle. Apparently that was just added in reshoots since the studio felt the movie needed romance ugh. ‘Cause they just can’t have a female character that is just there to kick ass and point out that maybe the elves should be looking at the bigger picture instead of shutting themselves in. Le sigh.

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