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Interesting thriller with some weaknesses
I agree with almost everything in the previous review written by Artax88, and would just like to add a few things: I disliked the esoteric/mystic parts in the second act. The old, blind man and his "prophecy" didn't fit well with the rest of the film and was in, my opinion, redundant. Additionally, it was a little ridiculous and framed by silly lightning effects.
Also, I would have liked to see a little bit more of the hero's and villain's relationship. It was only hinted at, but seemed very interesting to me. The villain was a strong character and could have benefited the film by having a little more screen time. Room for this could have been made by cutting out some of the "father of my girlfriend doesn't like me" scenes and the previously mentioned mysticism.
I expected much better
I was looking forward to "The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug", but was quite disappointed by the result.
In the begging the film felt hectic to me, spending too little time on some scenes and jumping right into the next one. Then, as soon as Gandalf and the dwarfes+Bilbo were split, the transitions between the two or three plot lines were rough and were always created as cliff hangers which I found quite annoying. (I don't have a problem with cliff hangers per se, but the frequent crude switches made me nervous and pulled me out of both plot lines).
Apart from the exchange between Bilbo and Smaug, most dialogue was overly lofty and dramatic for my taste. I expect talk of "evil itself" and the like from a LotR/Hobbit movie but every once in a while an ordinary, mundane exchange would be nice.
Lastly, the plot: the quest started out fast paced and I thought it was on a good way. But then needless side plots and distractions were integrated. I don't see why this had to be a 2,5h+ movie at all. And the ending is an extreme cliff hanger that could have been resolved within ten minutes. The dragon flies off but with all the foreshadowing we already *know* what is going to happen. Of course there will be more side plots and a huge battle, but still, so much drawing out was unnecessary. Moreover, in Gandalf's plot line almost nothing happens. He goes on a quest to find out about the necromancer that takes a lot of screen time with very little happening. He walks around in several ruins and speaks about "the darkness spreading" but that is all. Similarly, the whole evil mayor against Bard plot was basically superfluous. That the dwarfs think only of themselves was clear without being spelled out. And that Bard is the one who will kill the dragon with the black arrow didn't need to be telegraphed for twenty minutes. On the other hand, the addition of Thauriel and some more inside view of the Wood Elf King's motivation is nice. (Although Thauriel's healing scene was way overdoing it with bright, shiny elf-lighting). Lastly, the change of "the villain Orc" felt really weird. I can't see a reason why Azog was replaced by another big, evil Orc. I'm sure Azog will now lead the Orc army into the final confrontation and have his big showdown against Thorin, but that could easily have been accomplished without introducing "generic-big-evil-orc IV" into the plot.
I did like a lot of the ideas, the special effects, locations and characters were as great as always, but this movie just felt drawn out and histrionic.