Review of The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug

EDIT: Should mention, as this is a hobby-blog, that the movie showed some orcish warriors that probably will be released as a plastic boxed set. They reminded me slightly of Morannon Orcs. Beorn in bearform could be seen, and I suspect a "resin" model. Noticed that? How the term finecast isn't as prevalent anymore?
   Lastly, here's hoping for another Sauron model! Don't really know how they would sculpt him, but if would give it a go... it would look like... hm... maybe I will give it a go? 

EDIT #2: Link to blog by mr Legatus Headlius with some nice images pertinent to above update.

I thought that GW:s bear would look very, very different from mine - and it does, but not extremely different. It was difficult to sculpt the bear below but it is satisfying to see that I didn't miss the target that much.

Just came home after watching The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug. We were a good crowd sitting in the large theater but not as feastly as the one last year, when I went on a Saturday. Still, there was anticipating shushes when the movie started, some good laughs and a halfhearted applause at the end, which I assumed was directed towards myself, as is custom. I sat in the middle, with closed eyes and feasted on the praise of the audience.

Before saying anything about the movie, something about the 3D high definition version must be said, something which probably has been said before... We have all heard how some actors couldn't continue in their line of work after the silent movie era ended? How their voices weren't good enough or something. And some people, to this day, still thinks colorama movies are less high quality with their wizzes and bangs than the quality of movies made in the good old grayscale.
     There probably were one or two actors that looked like crap before the make-up department adjusted to colour movies, perhaps these even got their careers destroyed? Who knows, who cares... but still, keep this in mind - that I am aware of how early versions of new tech can sometimes be a bit wonky - when reading the following:
    The HDF made the movie look like it was filmed by students with handicams. The quality was great, don't get me wrong, but the difference was so big it made the movie look... DIY or cheap beacuase it was made so meticulously detailed. Like it already existed a Middle-Earth and some guys just put their finest clothes on and reenacted a bit of dwarven history in front of the camera (everyone remembering not to blink too much, because a staring actor, is a good actor).
      It is interesting how new awesome technique can make a super-high-cost production like The Hobbit look cheap - or at least be perceived like that by an untrained eye such as mine.

With that said, and probably a bunch of persons misunderstanding me with this HDF-matter - like with the cost of dwarves (not anyone commenting no, no, we all got along nicely of course. No, there was some annoying PM:s and some forum linkys which had totally gotten me wrong) - here's the tiny review.

Contains a few spoilers. Even for those that have read the book!

This movie had a lot of Peter Jackson moments, and I am not talking about the first four minutes or so of the movie, when the drunk director once again made a short and appreciated appearance, no, I am talking about Tauriel, almost all fights against the goblin-orcs and when the dwarves find themselves battling Smaug inside Erebor. They all have their place in a movie made by Peter Jackson, but sometimes I wished someone else could've done the films, someone with a more... respect... for the legacy of Tolkien. But then again, this is a (kind of) dark fairytale, so forget the above. And also, who else could have directed this?

There were fewer "hilarious" moments, thankfully, in this movie than in the first one. To be honest, the only one I can remember are when Bombur started bouncing with his barrel - just thinking of it make me snigger. It really did have its place and no critique shall be passed upon the scene.
       However, what happened before that, needs to be addressed: An arrow was at either Fili or Kili (and wounded the target), and we all know what is supposed to happen to them. But now, they are left behind in Laketown, plus the wounded one healed by the abominable she-elf, and safely away from the Battle of Five Armies. It will be interesting to see if the makers of the movies avoid the brother-dwarves final ending from the book, just to make the movie even cuter. Probably not, but there is no recollection in my mind that they were ever left behind in Laketown... Perhaps they will meet Aule after a short fight against Smaug? Instead of their booked meeting with Aule after BoFA?

The movie began with a small recapitulation of Thorin and Gandalf's first meeting in Bree. Some running and jumping ensued and soon the gang fell asleep in Beorn's cabin. As I had hoped, Persbrandt (who plays Beorn) was as weak an actor as he normally is - but this time it was even worse. I doubt he even know what Lord of the Rings or The Hobbit are. He felt lost. The drunkard's role in the third movie will likely just be him storming down a slope and tearing orcs and goblins apart before awkwardly saying goodbye in one of the ending scenes, and off he is.
    After Beorn there was a short version of the Mirkwood walk (where Tauriel was given waaay too much time and attention) and a nice, very simplified version of the feasting Wood Elves - no tables in the forest - and the eventual infiltration of Mirkwood Castle by Bilbo. The Wood Elves were well portrayed for the short amount of time that could be given them, I suppose. Minor grievances, like their lacking vigilance when the dwarves barrel-rode into their rivergate, can be excused (they were ambushed by noisy, smelling orcs).
    An amusing hunt then took place and finally the dwarves met mr Dale himself, Bard. I really liked this part of the movie, when they arrived in Laketown, and it was a good breath-taker between the action.

Inbetween various scenes there was a fantastic little thing when Gandalf goes to examine the graves of the Nine. I had hoped there was time for the fight at Dol Guldur, but it seems all the goodies are to happen in the third and last movie: The Battle of Five Armies, the battle at Dol Guldur - with elves and magic (if it wasn't omitted, God forbid(!)) and the battle against Smaug.

Blah-blah-blah, the dwarves come to the Lonely Mountain, which was a sight to behold with its ruins. They arrive, bicker about the last light, open the door, Bilbo is sent down, Bilbo wakes Smaug which is a good part - followed by a part which was too action-y and naturally disliked by me. The cliffhanger was Smaug flying to Laketown.

A genuine production. But I should have stayed away from the HDF, super framerate-thingie as I thought I should have. The 3D, I felt, were more of a novelty in this movie than in the last one, where they were used to better effect. The actors did their job - with the expected failure of Persbrandt - but Ian McKellen was excellent in this one. He is Gandalf.
    Props and effects and terrain and cities are super well done and it really feels like you're in Middle-Earth! The story is, as been stated before, quite fast paced and rightly so. It is a great matiné movie, but I liked the first one better: The Desolation of Smaug receives 44 stars of 55 possible stars. A weak "four".

10 kommentarer:

  1. I must admit, I didn't bother this time with the 3D, just saw it in regular 2D which I preferred...

    The idea of the 'graves of the nine' is an interesting one as I am unaware they ever had graves... the effects of their rings making them slowly 'fade to shadows'... but it made for a good cinematic moment.

  2. I should probably have done the same, what with the substantial increase in price... But the spot in the theater I got was just too darn good to miss: Exactly in the center of the middle of the middle of the spot!

    The graves of the nine was a bit weird and felt slightly nightmarish when he went inside the dark tomb, which I highly appreciated - but I was likewise under the impression that they'd simply faded into darkness. And that's a little bit what I like and at the same time dislike with Peter Jackson: The liberties he's taking with the source material. He's a cheeky bastard... and sometimes I like it.

  3. Yet to see it, but not too worried about spoilers - good review, kept me reading. Could imagine you, a Llama, in the middle of the theatre feasting on the applause for some reason.

  4. Hahah! Yep, with the good old front teeth sticking out in a *very* satisfied smile ;)

    And glad to hear you kept reading, it always feels a bit weird posting large portions of text - "will anyone read it", one thinks.

  5. I certainly read it! Very good! Really looking forward to seeing it with my daughter who is doubly excited as she is a big Sherlock fan!

    1. If she likes Sherlock as much as I do (and this comes from "hetero-normative" man, I like his acting skills, honestly, nothing else!) she won't be unhappy, even if his voice has been altered, it is quite obvious who's hiding behind all the CGI and voice-filters; but strangely enough it took just a few sentences before getting lost (in a good way) in the movie, and I forgot it was mr B. Cumberbatch speaking.

      You'll go the 21st if I remember it correctly? I wish you the best of times!

  6. I read it too! You write interesting texts! I saw the HFR 3D version and confess that I enjoyed it very much. I have to agree with you , the Smaug scene "was too action-y". Anyway, here, in Athens, one ticket costs 12 euros but I think it worth the money! 2D are cheaper.
    I understand that you are a big "fan" of Persbrandt!!!! I didn't know him to tell you the truth.

    1. 12 EUR:s is more than acceptable for the 2D-version. I (almost) gladly paid the equivalent of 17 EUR:s (175 SEK) but that was because I forgot my own 3D-glasses and didn't want to steal them from the open box behind the ticketman. I am such a saint, am I not?

      Thanks Panagiotis, it is more encouraging than I want to admit, to hear that you and others read and hopefully enjoyed the little review/recap!

    2. 1 ticket 2D costs 7 euros
      1 ticket 3D HFR costs 12 euros

  7. Oh, I see, even better then!